Frustrated Trying to Lose Weight? Here are Helpful Tips to Get You Started!

You'll want to have consistent exercise and a balanced eating plan for weight loss results.

Some of the links in this post about weight loss are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

I would like to think one of the things I am best known for in my writing career is as a quasi-expert fitness guru. In my lifetime I have gained and lost over one hundred pounds (kids, amirite?) You may remember my “big” weight loss with the Wii Fit. Since that time I have pretty much managed to keep it off.

There was also a tumultuous period a few years back where I wanted to lose about five pounds. I tried a fad diet and it led me down a multi-year road of trying ALL the diets and I ended up twenty pounds heavier. It got so bad I ended up with a binge eating disorder and I sought help from a nutritionist. I saw her for four years, kept going long after I lost the weight. Now I have a wealth of knowledge I am going to share with you!

To start, let me say if you know you’re going to be dieting DO NOT use this time to “eat all you can” before you start your weight loss program.

That was my biggest mistake so many years ago. All I really wanted was to lose was five pounds that fateful holiday season. What I did was eat ALL the foods in that two weeks between Christmas and New Year’s. That caused me to gain five pounds before I even started dieting! That made that quick five pound weight loss a more daunting ten pounds. Terrible idea. In this article I’m about to tell you how you can lose the weight without getting rid of the foods you love.

Let’s to start by doing something I think might actually backfire. I’m going to suggest getting the RENPHO Body Fat Scale Smart BMI Scale Digital Bathroom Wireless Weight Scale. It’s affordable and effective. For starters, it will tell you your weight and body composition. That is helpful in knowing the total number of calories your body needs per day at rest just to survive. It’s a key number to know because you’ll want to take that number and subtract a certain amount of calories to equal the weight loss you’re looking for.

It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound. Ideally, you would cut out 500 calories each day for a one pound per week weight loss. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, and you *can* cut 1000 out but you’re going to be hangry and you might not succeed. Not to mention if you’re cutting 500 but adding exercise that will burn additional calories so you’ll lose weight faster. Remember, one pound per week is still 52 pounds in a year! Slow and steady and whatnot.

The reason I say the scale might not be the smartest idea is you could possibly become a bit obsessed with it. That can be good or it can be awful. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you eat for consistency. My problem was I was weighing myself daily. Doing that made me antagonize over a one pound daily gain when I knew I was keeping my calories in check. However, it does motivate me to reign my eating in. I also love having all the data on hand on my phone. That isn’t an affiliate link, it’s just the scale I use.

Now for eating before this ends up a whole ass novel.

For weight loss, you do not have to give up the foods you love.

Another thing I suggest you briefly try is MyFitnessPal or something similar. DO NOT BECOME OBSESSED. Again, these things I am directing you are tools. The scale will help you find out the calories your body burns at rest. You can input that data into MFP and it will tell you how many calories you should be eating. I suggest not changing your diet at first and just log what you eat as honestly and accurately as possible. Set it to private, there is no reason to lie. It’s helpful to know what you’re working with so you can go from there. In MyFitnessPal, you can manually input recipes and it has a barcode scanner for exact nutritional amounts.

Once you see how many calories you’re eating on average you can see what needs to be cut from there. Do I recommend a mostly whole food diet? 100%, but you really shouldn’t give up what you love. Personally, if there is a food I know I can’t control myself around I won’t buy it. Most things I can eat in moderation but I know certain foods will be on my mind nonstop if they’re in the house.

Dieting Pro Tips

What I do suggest is to eat what you want in ONE portion size and know that the next day you are more than welcome to have that same thing again. Snickers was murdered this way. I bought a fun sized bag and had one eighty calorie Snickers every day for like three weeks. When I ate it I took my time knowing I could have another the next day. After so many I got so sick of them I haven’t had one in years.

Try to incorporate as many healthy foods as you can but allow yourself whatever you want in moderation. If you don’t you’ll binge and the number on the scale will climb.

Honestly if you have a poor relationship with food and don’t have proper hunger and fullness signals you’re going to want to seek out a dietician to help you on this journey. Mine was a God send.

Don’t Forget to Exercise

Exercise is key to successful weight loss.

You also need exercise. Any exercise. Move. Do what you enjoy. Personally, I use the Down Dog app series. I use all the apps, purchase one and you get access to them all. I also have a virtual fitness coach who developed a workout using weights I have at home to use on days I’m not doing yoga to aid in weight loss. She also helps me pop my booty out because I was just doing yoga alone and I lost my butt. Dee (Mom Inspiring Fitness on Instagram) helps me lose the rest of the weight yoga didn’t burn off while building muscle in my bum to pop it out.

I’m going to end it here by saying if you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will answer them. Make sure you drink a ton of water and don’t drink your calories. When you go out to eat ask for a to go box with your meal and immediately box up half of it when it’s delivered to your table. Bonus meal! You can also contact me by clicking there or using the contact feature on this website.

I wish you all the best on you fitness journey!

On Life, Love, and Loss

I can’t think, I can’t breathe, I can’t talk – so I write.

For the past three months I have been prepping myself for this Saturday, the three year anniversary of my sisters suicide. I had a plan. Details don’t matter, it’s all irrelevant now. Fact of the matter is, I had a plan on how I was going to get through this anniversary and FINALLY have a good birthday, something I haven’t had since she died.

That’s all gone to shit, the world is on fire.

We are all living in unprecedented times right now. A world pandemic. I lost a friend today, a good friend. She had been fighting an illness her whole life and something as simple as a handshake may have been what killed her. She was young too. Much younger than me.

She fought. She fought her whole life and she overcame again and again and lived her best life only to be taken out by something that came from eating a bat? Is that what they’re saying now? Bat soup is killing off our entire population? We can’t leave our houses, we can’t hug our friends, we can’t open a package from Amazon without wondering if we are going to DIE from opening it. WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?

Elise was quite the lady. She loved freely, lived fearlessly, and was always aware and supportive of my life. We met nine years ago when we both worked at Fox & Hound and of course stayed in touch on Facebook but she was ALWAYS there when I needed her. She checked in on me when Sandy died, she helped me through a crisis a few years back, and last year when I was afraid for my own life because of a failed port she Facetimed me and talked me down from a massive panic attack because she was no stranger to blood clots and ports.

And something as simple as a handshake took her out.

WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW?

Yes. I had to ask twice because what the actual fuck?

When are we going to be free? We are all living in the prisons of our homes. I’m lucky I already homeschooled or else I would be shitting my pants. I’m lucky my husband can work from home and we have more quality time. I’m lucky to HAVE a family I can be with all day who love and support me when some of my friends have to sit in solitude wondering when they will be able to see someone they love again. I wonder if we are going to see an increase in suicides from this, homicides from domestic abuse, overdoses from people going out of their minds looking for an escape. I wonder if there is an end in sight.

I don’t know what to tell my children. They know but they don’t, you know? Like I said, they already homeschool so they don’t have a huge disruption in their life. They stay off the news, don’t have social media, they don’t really know. They want a certain food and I can’t give it to them and they can’t seem to wrap their heads around why and I honestly can’t either.

I miss life. Not just my life because my life really isn’t that bad. Like I said, I love my family. We aren’t getting on each other’s nerves at all. Eighteen years with a person you figure out pretty early on if they’re going to get on your nerves. Thank God for online gaming, that keeps the kids at bay. I just miss life.

I HAVE NEVER WATCHED SO MANY MOVIES BEFORE.

I have an illness I have been fighting for eleven years. I get plasma every ten days. Now I can’t WAIT for plasma day. I want as much of a boost as I can get. I don’t know if I’ll get sick but I have a plan in place if I do. I’m cautious, I’m vigilant, but I’m also realistic.

PAUSE-

I am going to straight up bitch for one second because this is my blog and I do what I want –

How do I make it through an entire winter of three pairs of pants, heated socks and shirt, and a ski jacket only to NOT have a summer after doing yoga for two months, losing ten pounds, getting a body that a fitness trainer would have that NEEDS to be in tiny dresses and short-shorts only to have absolutely nowhere to go and no one to show it off to? Petty in the grand scheme of things but we are all allowed to grieve the losses we have coming.

I have friends I worry about. All my friends are in the service industry. What if unemployment doesn’t come through? How much will they really be getting? What happens after July if they’re not back at work? I may be fine financially but I worry for them, I love them. Of course I do.

I don’t know. I really don’t even know why you’re reading this. I know I’m writing it because even though I talk a lot I’m terrible at speaking, I write. Words come through my fingers, it’s the only way I can communicate. I can’t offer platitudes or give hope right now because to me the future is bleak, at least for the next few weeks as I grieve the loss of my friend, the loss of my best friends’ father, re-live the loss of my sister, and miss ANOTHER birthday, something I was fighting SO HARD to reclaim.

I want to thank my husband for being him. That’s all. Just for being him. I would be going crazy without him. I want to thank Dex too, for taking the time to distract me by talking about something as silly as seafood. I want to thank all of you who reached out to me on Facebook. I’m a strong woman but today I am weak, Saturday I will be weaker. Expect a post about Sandy this weekend. She is getting a tribute. It’s for me but I would love for you to read it. I miss the shit out of her.

I’m going to stop writing now, I don’t have the energy to keep on. I thought I had a point but I just rambled. What I ask is that we all take a second and listen to my and my sisters song, a happy song that will get you moving. Get up, jump around, and forget for a moment that the world is chaos. Dance with me. I love you.

Bubbles and Books – A Review

Bubbles and books bath products have an array of bath time needs!

I have been compensated for this review in the form of a Premium Mystic Box from Bubbles and Books. All of my opinions are my own and are not influenced by outside sources.

OMG YOU GUYSSSSS!!!

Sorry, do I seem excited? Maybe it’s because I am? Nah, couldn’t be the reason. Derp.

So the thing about me is I LOVE reading. I had just finished a 28 book series that I was working on for about four months. I read a lot and I read fast. What I WANT to do is read in the tub but I tend to use my iPad for reading and I have a massive fear that I’ll drop it in because I know myself too well. Yesterday I tripped into a door, over a rug, and landed on a chair. I’m FOR SURE going to drop an iPad.

So when I was approached to do a review about a subscription box that involves both reading AND baths I was like “Hell yes please and thank you!” I was asked what genre I wanted and I picked fantasy because I’ve been on a supernatural kick lately. I got two books from New York Times Bestselling Authors, Lynsay Sands and Barbara J. Hancock. I also received enough bath products to last AT LEAST two weeks. Since I was sent the premium box with two books it gave me a week of bath and reading to knock out each book!

Your Bubbles and Books Box Experience-

There were bombs, cubes, and soaps along with a sun ripened peach candle to light for additional scent and ambiance. I was even excited to receive a bag full of shower bombs to put in the corner to make my shower extra awesome. Very handy since I’ve been deep conditioning a lot lately so I’m in there FOREVER.

The bath experience itself doesn’t even need much description. You’ve all taken baths (I hope) and for the love of all that is holy please tell me you’ve read a book. If you haven’t I implore you to try it. They’re ALWAYS better than the movie. Just picture yourself away from the world surrounded by scents and bubbles with a candle burning and a good book in your hand. Sound delightful? IT IS.

Treats that come in the bubbles and bath package

Here is the thing I’ve learned about subscription boxes. While yes, you could go to the store and buy these items, it’s SO MUCH FUN to receive a package in the mail each month that is a total surprise. You tend to lose track of time as the days go by and things might frustrate you and then all of the sudden you open your door and there is a package waiting for you with products that call to you to forget the world and dive into a world of fantasy and relaxation. I’m a huge fan of all subscription boxes, I feel it’s like Christmas each month and they brighten my day every time one arrives.

What Comes In Your Bubbles and Books Box

I received a Premium Mystic Box (Paranormal Romance). Premium boxes contain 2 books each, and 5-7 bath and body items. The subscription for that is $44.95 a month +$3 shipping (that’s because they cover the rest of the $10-15 actual shipping costs).

Standard Boxes contain 1 book and 3-5 bath and body items and are $27.99 a month + $3 shipping (again, because they cover the rest of the $8-10 shipping costs.)

With Standard and Premium Boxes you can choose the genre of your choice to ensure you get books you’ll love. Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance, Mystery and Thrillers are to be found. You can change book genres any time you want.

To Subscribe to Bubbles and Books Is Easy

Subscription options are month-to-month. Cancel any time or you can get a 6 month pre-paid or 12 month pre-paid subscription to save some money. Delay subscription renewals if you don’t want a box for a month or two. You can also pause a subscription and come back later, it’s very flexible.

Get started today with a discount code so you can get 25% off your first box at BubblesandBooks.com :  JULIE25

It would be the perfect gift for yourself but I HIGHLY suggest you menfolk reading this to consider trying it out for Mother’s Day. Make sure you order it early enough so the package arrives on or before that date. It could work for any occasion though – birthdays, anniversaries, a just because I love you, or sorry I messed up you were totally right let me grovel until you forgive me subscription or it could be for yourself, given that there are so many genres and you like the occasional bath (don’t lie) it could work for anybody.

Here is how to reach them on social media –


Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BubblesandBooksBox/

Private Facebook group and home to their monthly “Bubbles Night” online events – where they play games and give away prizes  https://www.facebook.com/groups/bubblesandbooks/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bubbles_books_box/

So again I want to say that there is nothing like a subscription box. I subscribe to a few subscription boxes. Being a homeschool mom it’s wonderful every time someone comes in with a package I forgot was coming! Especially filled with goodies just for me to make my life better. I will say my hubs loves the occasional bath as well. I had him try this and he almost put a glitter bomb in! Poor guy had a board meeting the next day. Ha! While absolutely hilarious to me it would have been a nightmare for him so read the product description before trying.

I hope you’ll consider trying this product out for yourself. Use the code JULIE25 for 25% off to see what you think of it. Please let me know either in the comments, or use this contact form! Love y’all!

The Perfect Oreo Cookie

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day I met my sister Dee. I’ve been seeing it in my calendar coming up and I was so excited to write about her. This woman is so strong. She empowers me, laughs with me, takes silly photos with me, and she inspires many.

You see, Dee and I met when I was at a low point in my life. I reached out to my local mom group to see who would do karaoke with me and she immediately replied. Within a week we got together. Bless her heart, she hurt her knee the day we were supposed to meet and she STILL came to hang out with me. Legit her knee has been a messed our whole relationship. I can’t wait for March 11th when she can finally properly dance when Nick has his first show at Blue. She insists she can teach me how to dance, if that happens miracles can come true.

I wish I could find the right words to express the love I have for her. Words simply don’t do her justice. She is there for me when I need to vent, has my back if anyone would even dare mess with me, and we joke I am the vanilla to her latte.

I lost my sister almost three years ago and I have had a hole in my heart ever since. That hole will never be filled and my sister can not be replaced but Dee has brought such light and love to my life it’s like my sister looked down on me and saw my sorrow and brought me and Dee together. For that I am grateful.

I know you’re all already familiar with her, I’ve spoken about her on my blog a few times and if any of you follow me on Facebook and look through my pictures you would see a whole year of us. I look forward to a lifetime of pictures. I can’t wait for Blue to open back up so we can get our spot at the bar and I can drink my water and her her blue motorcycle and we can sing and dance and we have also started Livestreaming our nights out so expect to see some karaoke on our Facebook and Instagrams. If you’re looking for fitness inspiration or need a virtual wellness coach she is your girl. For sure check her out on YouTube and Instagram this woman is AMAZING. She will transform your body in no time.

So sis, if you’re reading this I hope you know you mean the world to me. You’re my rock, my inspiration, my sister, and my best friend. I’m yours for as long as you will have me. Happy Anniversary.

He Asked If I Wanted To Go To The Beach

He just didn’t say which one.

There he is – Joey Oey.   Years and years ago, when I was about 17, Joe stopped by and asked if I wanted to go to the beach. “Sure, why not.” I said.

We lived in Upstate NY.  There are TONS of beaches in the area, so I figured that’s where we were headed.  I put my bikini on under my outfit, grabbed a towel and off we went.

After about an hour of driving, I started to get confused.  Granted, I was smoking at the time (and I’m not talking Marb Lights here people), so I thought maybe it was just me and my perception of time.

“Which beach are we going to?”

“Virgina Beach”, he said giggling.

“WHAT?!  Dude.  VIRGINIA BEACH?  That’s like eight hours away!”

This is how Joey was.  He was really random and he lived in the moment.  I figured I really didn’t have much else going on and I could call home when we were near a pay phone (this was the pre-cell era).  After all, I was with JOEY, everyone would understand.

So we drive.  And drive.  I see a sign for Virginia Beach.  We’re not slowing down.  We’re not getting off the exit.  We just sailed past the beach.

“Umm…Joe?  You missed the beach.”

“Yeah.  I want to check out Myrtle.”

“DUDE.  THAT IS SIX HOURS AWAY.”

“He he he he”, was his reply.

Myrtle Beach.  We arrived around midnight and found the Silver Sands Motel for like thirty bucks a night.  It had a bed and pull out couch and just so happened an episode of the X-Files was filmed in that very room, so that was awesome.

For the record, in our twenty years of friendship, Joe and I never hooked up.  We were just friends.  Family.

Three days.  For three days, we stayed in Myrtle Beach.  Same clothes, same hotel.  THREE DAYS.  I’m choosing to omit certain details for personal and legal reasons, but my pupils were HUGE for a majority of that time if you know what I mean. We spent a full 24 hours in the same spot on the beach in deck chairs we stole from a hotel. We were there as the tide came in and the water was up to our butts and we were still there when it receded and we watched both the sunrise and the sunset that day. Pretty sure I had full-on conversations with seagulls.

“Joey, it’s time to go.  I think I just got fired from my job.”

Into the car we go.  Driving, driving, driving.  Hmm….I don’t remember passing Washington, D.C. on the way there.  Curious.  What was even more curious was the fact that it looked liked we were going there.

Shit.  We’re going to DC. How the hell does this man know his way around the country without maps or cell phones?

“I just wanna check it out.” Again, more giggles.  Joe.  Jo-Jo.  Joe to the O.  Joey Oey.

Pupils huge, we took a bus tour around the city.  In Arlington Cemetery, Joe decided to wander away from the group.  Reluctantly, I followed.  Naturally, the tour group moved on.  Suddenly,  we’re stranded miles from the car.  Miles and miles.  And miles. We walked those miles, all the way back to the car.  In Birkenstock’s.  Hey, it was the 90′s and we were Smot Pokers.

Well, we made it to the car.  We didn’t spend the night there but instead drove to where I had hoped would be home.

Nope.  NYC is not my home.  It’s about 5 hours away from it.

Pupils still huge, we walked that city.  We spent hours in Central Park where I watched a foreign man teach an American woman how to fly a kite, pooped in a McDonald’s that had two stories with a man playing classical music on a Grand Piano, strolled down Broadway and then SOMEONE thought it’d be a brilliant idea to walk to the World Trade Center, which was still standing, unaware of it’s tragic future.

Again, we walked.  We WALKED.  We walked until I shed tears because my feet hurt (again, Birks).  It was getting dark and those buildings were not getting any closer.  I finally convinced Joe to hop on the Subway and we eventually found our way back to the car and decided to go home. That’s a story in itself, I won’t go into it here.  Finally.  Home!

As we’re driving back, Joe suddenly says to me “Buckle up.  Sit up straight.  Look ahead.  I don’t have my license, the car isn’t registered and there’s a cop behind us.”

I stopped rolling up that piece of paper I was playing with that had pretty flowers in it and held my breath until they passed.  Then I smacked the shit out of him for taking me on a week long road trip with no license and an unregistered car.  It was the best trip of my life.

Upon my arrival home at two in the morning I ran into the apartment I shared with my boyfriend, jumped on the bed, scared the shit out of him and then explained myself. Still to this day I don’t know if I called a single person to tell them where I was.

I miss that man so much. We lost Joey almost eighteen years ago and I often wonder how different my life would be if he was still alive. I can’t dwell on the loss because I get WAY too deep in my mind. This is one of the fondest memories I have of Joey and I am truly honored to have lived a life with a man who lived life so carefree and allowed me to be a part of it. Love you, Joey. Hope you and my sister found each other. Next time I’ll tell you about our trip to the zoo!

The DJ Nixxx Experience

Let me start by saying I am at a really good place in my life. I’m happy, I’m as emotionally and physically healthy as I can get, and I have an abundance of friends and family who love and support me.

Nick Varraso is the reason why.

“How can one person be responsible for your happiness and well-being Julie?” You may ask. Sit with me as I tell you the tale of how one man changed my life.

It all started back in March of last year. I already told you the story of why I go out every night. Well if it wasn’t for Nick, I wouldn’t and I would be terribly depressed, agoraphobic, and socially awkward.

To rehash, one day last year I was desperate for friends. I made a post on Facebook and asked if anyone would be so kind as to go to karaoke with me. I searched up on Google and saw that DJ Nixxx has a weekly show at the Blue Olive Lounge in Fort Mill. For anyone who has ever known me, you know karaoke is my thing. It had been YEARS since I sang but it fell on a Wednesday night which was perfect for me because everyone would be asleep and I could break my week up so I decided to check it out.

My first time there I met my friend Randa. We just talked, I didn’t sing. My second time there I met my sister Dee and I was absolutely terrified to sing but this guy who made nice with me brought Nick over to me to introduce us and Nick, without ever knowing me, grabbed my chin and said “I believe in you.”

He’s said that to me countless times since.

So I sang. It was at that moment something reawakened in me.

As the weeks went by I became more and more brave and I sang my old karaoke favorites and slowly introduced new ones. I started making friends and came out of the shell I had built around myself. Dee became my sister and I met a handful of amazing people and we became a karaoke crew who were loyal to Nick and Nick alone. I refuse to go to any other show, Nick is my man.

I mentioned before that Blue Olive closed and relocated (and it’s reopening again soon. Can’t wait!) and I was lost in the wind. I had JUST begun to find myself. Before Nick, I couldn’t even talk to my neighbor. Once you get up in front of a crowd of people and sing? You can do anything.

In speaking with Nick he mentioned he has a show once per month at Empire Pizza in Rock Hill, SC and he bartends there on Mondays. Of course I knew about Empire, that’s where I get my pizza. I just didn’t think of it as a bar to hang out at. Boy was I wrong about that. Pretty sure that’s obvious by now, amirite?

I ventured down that way and what happened next changed my life – I met the rest of my family. Nick indirectly gave me Dee back at Blue. Nick also gave me Dex, Chris, Fabian, Tatiana, Tuck, and countless others. If I did a shout out to every friend I now have y’all would stop reading so just know if you’re reading this I’m thinking of how grateful I am to have you in my life.

Nick is the most genuine, attentive, considerate, complimentary, and loving friend. We talk every day. He DOES believe in me. He loves me. He praises me in every way a person can be praised. He knows everything about me, is there in a heartbeat when I need him, and is at the center of my social life.

Nick and I have a bond that will last a lifetime, of that I am sure. If you live in the Charlotte, North Carolina or Fort Mill/Rock Hill South Carolina area keep track of him on his Facebook or Instagram pages. If you want to be added to MY group of best friends join me at Empire every third Thursday of the month or hang out with me EVERY Wednesday at the Blue Olive Lounge in Fort Mill. It’s going to be reopening soon and that’s where I’ll be.

You guys, I am SO CONFIDENT now. I sing like eight times in a night on slow nights. I can’t listen to the radio without wondering if I’m hearing a song I can sing at karaoke. I am social, I have friends, I have family. I have a sister, I have a brother, I have THE BEST friends. Not discounting the friends and family I have in NY, it’s just wonderful to have family by my side nightly, you know?

So thank you, Nick. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for Dee, thank you for Dex, thank you for YOU. May your business prosper and have me end up a geriatric karaoke groupie because for as long as you are a host, I will be your number one fan. I love you! You’re the one person Dex can’t cut! Believe that!