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Linda Huskey of Monroe (Contestant)

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Week Twelve - FINAL

Starting Goal: To explore new ways to improve my health no matter what challenges life throws at you. Do you feel that you accomplished your goal? I accomplished my goal of becoming healthy despite life’s challenges by figuring out the triggers of unhealthy habits, learning to plan for challenging situations, and working on new behaviors that will lead to a healthy lifestyle and continued weight loss. Life is full of challenges that can get in the way of weight loss, but my new behaviors and strategies will help me to continue this healthy lifestyle. What are your goals for the future? I am planning things in the future that I never would have had the confidence to try before this challenge. I love the feeling of becoming physically fit and the lifestyle that it is allowing me to have. I am planning to do the Big Climb at the Columbia Tower, a 70 mile bike ride, and climbing Mt. St. Helens next summer. And I will reach my goal weight by my next birthday. What would you tell someone starting their own Healthy Challenge? Take it one day at a time, and build yourself a support group of the right people that will encourage and inspire you.

Week Eleven

What did you find most challenging this week? I struggled a lot early on this week with emotional eating. The stress of unemployment and anxiety about going back to school really took a toll on me this week. I have really cut back on spending since becoming unemployed. And add to that the change in the foods I eat, I think I was starting to feel a bit deprived. I recognized the emotional reaction I was having. I was craving foods that I haven't had in a while. I thought about my situation and decided it was time to spend a little money to reward myself for all I have accomplished so far. I did this by shopping for some new clothes this week. That really boosted my morale and helped to control the emotional eating. It was a great experience buying the new clothes. I bought a pair of jeans in a size smaller than I expected. And it feels good to wear clothes that fit, rather than the baggy clothes that I have been wearing. Overall I think that was a good outlet for my emotions and it allowed me to take control over my eating behaviors. It was a small reward for all the changes I have made so far. What accomplishment were you most proud of this week? In an earlier update I mentioned that one of my goals is to do the Big Climb up the 69 floors of the Columbia Tower. Previously I did 63 floors on the StairMill in 20 minutes. This week I did the 69 floors in 20 minutes. I reached the top of the Columbia Tower! I have got myself in shape to do the climb next March. I continued on the StairMill for another 10 minutes and did a total of 100 floors in the 30 minutes. That is a distance of just over 2 miles. Back when we started this challenge if somebody told me I would be climbing up the entire Columbia Tower by the end, I would have not believed them. Now I have to keep this up so I am still ready for the challenge in March. What are your goals for next week? My anxiety is going to be running high this next week. School starts on September 27th. It has been a long time since I have been in school. So I really will be watching myself and controlling my emotional eating. I need to find outlets that don't involve food or shopping. Shopping was good for a long overdue reward but it can't be a daily habit. I also need to figure out a meal plan for the school week. I don't want to end up in a situation where I have nothing easy on hand and I am tempted with fast food. Luckily school works around my current exercise schedule so nothing has to change there. Sum up your thoughts for the eleventh week of Healthy Challenge. This week was a bit of a struggle but it had some good times as well. The best feeling was buying a pair of jeans in a size smaller than I ever expected to fit into at this point. I have also been looking ahead at some activities I have planned for next spring. I keep thinking about how much easier they will be for me because I will not be carrying around the weight I am now. That is really motivating to keep going. And it was really cool walking into the YMCA and having Katie Jean tell me that it was time for a new picture on my card.

Week Ten

What did you find most challenging this week?
I read an interesting article on the internet this week that discussed tips for successful long-term weight loss. Most of the tips I have already been doing but one caught my attention and I challenged myself to follow it this week. When eating a meal, they recommended taking a sip of water between bites or counting to ten. This intrigued me because I know that long-term success is more about behavioral changes with your food relationship rather than just cutting calories and exercising. I know I have been guilty of eating my meals quickly. So I gave this a try. It was difficult at first but I definitely could see a difference in how I felt at the end of a meal. I actually felt full and satisfied by the end of the meal, if not before, rather than well after I was done eating. I can see how this behavior change can help me to recognize when I am full before I overeat. Pairing this up with eliminating the multi-tasking while eating will have a powerful effect on my behavior and relationship with food.
What accomplishment were you most proud of this week?
I am proud of several of things this week and all involve behaviors with my relationship to food. Looks like I have a theme going on this week! First off, I was visiting a friend who insisted I take home a slice of chocolate cake. I didn't really want it because I didn't want to work it into my calorie budget or spend extra time working it off. So I politely brought the cake home and threw it in the trash. It just wasn't worth all the calories. Another night I went out to dinner at a place that serves large portions. I have not been dining out a lot since we started this challenge. I am proud to say I only ate half the meal and boxed up the other half for lunch the next day. And I made a healthy menu choice of grilled fish. And one more thing. I did a little day trip out to Ocean Shores over the weekend and we made a pit stop at a convenience store. The potato chips were really calling out to me. They didn't have the baked kind, just the regular ones. I grabbed the bag, turned it over, looked at the calories, and decided no, I wasn't going to get them. It wasn't worth it. I could spend those calories on something much better than potato chips.
What are your goals for next week?
I am going to continue to focus on behavioral changes this week. I want this to be successful long-term. I will continue with slowing down and not multi-tasking while eating. And I will continue with my usual cardio and strength training. Doing the strength training is my biggest challenge. I am more reluctant to do that but when I get in there and do it, it feels good to work the muscles like that. I think to myself why do I want to put this off each time. I have to start reminding myself prior to the workout how good it does feel.
Sum up your thoughts for the tenth week of Healthy Challenge.
Things are really going good so far. The weight is steadily coming off and I feel strong. This is such an awesome feeling. I am making significant changes in my life. I am looking towards the future and how life will be for me now that I have made these changes. I am considering doing things that I never would have thought I could do. This experience has been so empowering.

Week Nine

What did you find most challenging this week?
The holiday BBQ was the biggest challenge of the week for me. But I come up with a plan and I think I pulled it off very well. The biggest part of the plan was working with the host to make sure there were healthy options. I didn't go to the BBQ hungry. Once I got to the BBQ, I volunteered to do all the BBQing. This kept me busy and away from the snacking temptation. Besides the standard burgers, we also grilled some of the Trader Joe's chicken sausage, which is lower in fat. We used the Sandwich Thins instead of the big buns. And we had a lot of fruit and vegetable dishes. There was also dessert. But I filled up on the good stuff and saved a bit of room for a small dessert. The best thing was that everyone commented on the good food even though almost everything was the reduced fat version.
What accomplishment were you most proud of this week?
I did 40 crunches this week without a cramp. I am really getting stronger in the abs and it feels good. I also went on a good hike on Whidbey Island. The first half of the hike started with a long climb up a hill followed by some rolling hills for about 2 miles. Then we had to climb down the side of a bluff to reach the beach, and then walk back up the beach for about 2 miles. That was really a challenge walking on the sand and rocks on the beach. It was a good workout. The best part of all was that I was not exhausted at the end or sore the next day. All the time in the Y has really got me ready to hike on the uneven terrain. I also tried a water fitness class this week. That really was a stretch for me as I have not been comfortable with the idea of doing a water class. But I really enjoyed it and will be going back.
What are your goals for next week?
I am going to continue to work on my abs. I am so excited that I can do these crunches without cramps. I am hoping the weather cooperates over the weekend so I can get in another hike. And I am going back to a water fitness class.
Sum up your thoughts for the ninth week of Healthy Challenge.
We are in the home stretch of this challenge. Hard to believe we only have 3 more weeks. This really is having a positive impact on my life. I look at things so different now and it really has become second nature to me. I have been looking for zucchini recipes to try. I have a garden full of it right now. And I found myself reading recipes and thinking about substitutions to make the recipe healthier. People are really starting to notice that changes I have made. I have inspired several people to start exercising and eat healthy. That feels really good to do that.

Week Eight

What did you find most challenging this week? I put everything I have been learning and practicing for the last 8 weeks to the test -- I went to the fair. That put me right back in the situation where I was tempted by all my old bad habits. But I survived and left the fair feeling good about how I handled things. I knew it would be a challenge to walk around the fair all day with the tempting bad foods around every corner. So I came up with a battle plan before I went out for the day. I started by having a good filling breakfast that I knew would keep going for a long time. I brought some healthy snacks and water along. I also planned a good dinner for when I got home. I was looking forward to a good meal at home and didn't want to fill up on the junk food. I didn't feel like I was missing out on any of the fair foods. I also allowed myself to enjoy some of the food at the fair. I found a sandwich that was on the healthy side and also splurged on a little ice cream. But I did not blow my calorie budget for the day. So I think I handled the challenge very well. What accomplishment were you most proud of this week? I have a couple of things I am proud of this week. I tried a strength class with a different instructor this week and she had us do tricep dips. I never have been able to do those and I thought there was no way I could do that. But I tried it anyway. And guess what --- I did it! I also tried doing crunches again. They have always given me cramps in my abs when doing them. But since the triceps were stronger than I thought, I decided to test the abs. All went well, I didn't over do it but I did 20 crunches without a cramp. So all the strength training is really paying off. I am getting stronger. What are your goals for next week? I have a few things I want to try this week. I am going to continue working on the abs and see if I can do more crunches. I also want to try a water fitness class. I want to mix up my cardio work a bit to keep it interesting. Also I will be attending a BBQ over the holiday weekend, so I am going to come up with some healthy dishes to bring. And working with the host to make sure there are some healthy options going on the BBQ. I can enjoy the BBQ with friends and still be healthy. Sum up your thoughts for the eighth week of Healthy Challenge. It was a really good week. I got in all the cardio and strength training. I did several strength classes instead of using the weight machines that I usually do. So that mixed things up to make it fun. My weight loss is right on track where I want it to be. I might not be losing the most weight but I know how I am doing it is healthy and will be something that I can maintain beyond the challenge. And I had some fun cleaning out the closet and getting rid of clothes that are now too big for me! This week I set several long-term goals for myself, including reaching my goal weight by my birthday next summer. Overall I have a long ways to go but I know I can reach it by living this lifestyle I have created for myself. This challenge has given me the opportunity to look at my behaviors and how to modify them to create this healthy lifestyle. I have learned a lot about myself and that I can make these changes and stick with it. Health Tip Don't multi-task while eating. Sit down and enjoy your meal without the distraction of the TV or computer or anything else you can do while eating. This way you can focus on what you are eating and really enjoy it. And you are not using food to take away the boredom you are feeling while watching TV. You will not be eating because you are bored, but rather you are eating with a purpose.

Week Seven

What did you find most challenging this week? This week I have been battling a head cold that moved into my chest. Not a lot of fun as that is my big asthma trigger. I was really concentrating on keeping the asthma under control so I would not earn myself another stay in Valley General. So getting in all the exercise I planned was a challenge. I got some in but not at the usual intensity. I am feeling better now but still have a lot of chest congestion and coughing. And the cold medicine keeps me awake at night so I am not getting a lot of good solid sleep, which is so important. What accomplishment were you most proud of this week? This is a carry over from last week. I was very pleasantly surprised when I stepped on the scale this week. Despite the trip out of town last weekend for work, I had a very significant weight loss. I was just hoping to maintain. I guess this process is really coming together for me. Even with not all that great food choices over the weekend, I still made good decisions that did not impact the scale. It really shows that one bad day won't do you in if you make good choices the rest of the week. This lifestyle does not have to be 100% perfect to still make a difference in my health. What are your goals for next week? To get over this cough and get back to full intensity exercise. I missed riding my bike around town this last week. I like how I feel after exercising and don't like how this cold is bringing me down. So I am going to take care of myself so I can get back to my routine. Sum up your thoughts for the seventh week of Healthy Challenge. This is really becoming a lifestyle for me. This healthy way of eating is becoming normal. For dinner on Sunday night I really didn't feel like cooking. I keep a few of the healthier frozen dinner in the freezer for emergency purposes. I prefer to prepare my meals from fresh ingredients rather than have processed food. But on nights like this, going for the frozen dinner is a much better option than take out or delivery. As I was eating my dinner, for the first time I didn't think the portion of the dinner was more of a snack than a meal. After eating healthy portion sizes for this long, the frozen dinner really was a satisfying portion. I never thought I would think that way. This challenge has given me a great opportunity to reframe how I think about food. My life is going to be so much better because of that.

Week Six

What did you find most challenging this week? I picked up a one-day job down in Southern California this week. So I traveled for a few days. Keeping a healthy lifestyle while working on the road is difficult. I planned how I could eat healthy most of the time and get some exercise. But that all went out the window as the schedule of the job changed. I was at the mercy of the client on the meal options, which were not all that great. Packing along food was not an option this trip. But I did learn that when I find a job, I do not want to have a lot of travel like I did in my previous job. It is way too hard to stay healthy while working on the road. I have worked too hard for what I have achieved so far. My health comes first. I am not going to sacrifice my health for a job anymore. What accomplishment were you most proud of this week? I am not sure if this is a good accomplishment or plain stupidity. I decided I wanted to ride the Centennial Trail again. Got up Sunday morning and it looked like a great day to ride. I had been out of town for a few days, and had not paid any attention to the weather forecast. Little did I know that the forecast was calling for this really warm weather. I started the ride out at a nice temperature, and by the time I reached Arlington it had to be 95+ degrees and when I got done it was 99. I finished the ride, and managed to stay hydrated during the ride. Lesson learned – look at the weather forecast before doing a long ride. What are your goals for next week? I have been a little lax in tracking what I have been eating. I know I do a lot better if I track. So I am going to get back to doing that. And continue to exercise at the Y. I am hoping to make more Group Cycle classes this week than I did last week. Sum up your thoughts for the sixth week of Healthy Challenge. Wow, half way through. Things are going good overall for me. I had more challenges these last two weeks but things should settle down for the next six weeks. My weight loss is where I hoped it would be at this point. I am happy with my exercise progress. I feel great. I am loving the lifestyle change. This is something I can keep up beyond the challenge.

Week Five

What did you find most challenging this week? This was a hard week. I had a lot going on so I wasn't home much. I didn't get in my usual amount of exercise but I did get something in each day. Eating right was also a challenge. I did well most days. One day had more indulgence with friends and family but I made wise choices to minimize the damage. I will be hitting the Y hard next week to make up for it. What accomplishment were you most proud of this week? I resisted a lot of temptations. Greasy fast food would have been an easy option on many days this week but I did not give in. Instead I went places that would have healthier options and also tried bringing healthy snacks with me when I was out an about for most of the day. I was also craving soda this week, but I stuck to unsweetened iced tea. What are your goals for next week? This week I want to get back to my regular exercise schedule. I missed all the group cycling classes and didn't get in the strength training that I had hoped to this week. So I am back at it on Monday. Sum up your thoughts for the fifth week of Healthy Challenge. This has been my most challenging week yet. Real life got in the way this week. But this is good because I am not going to have all this free time forever. I need to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle while dealing with the time challenges like working full time. This was good practice for me and I have learned where I need to make improvements.

Week Four

What did you find most challenging this week? This week the biggest challenge seemed to be keeping up with tracking my calories. It gets tedious logging everything I eat but I know it is going to be key to succeeding in this challenge. When I have that urge for the late night snack all I have to do is look at my tracker and see that I used up my calories for the day and that helps put a stop to the urge. And if I haven't, then I can have the healthy snack without feeling guilty. If I go over the calorie count I won't see the results on the scale. What accomplishment were you most proud of this week? I had a great ride on my bicycle. I rode 35 miles along the Centennial Trail with Ginger and Krista from the Monroe YMCA. We rode it in just under 3 hours. I have not had my bike out on a long ride in many years so this was a lot of fun for me. All the time I have spent in the Y doing cardio has really paid off by giving me the endurance to complete the ride and feel good at the end. Thanks Ginger and Krista for riding with me. What are your goals for next week? Next week is going to be a challenge. I have a lot of personal things happening this week that are going to conflict with my regular workout plans and times. Right now my job search has to come first. So getting in my workouts is going to be a challenge. My goals are to do 5 days of cardio and 3 days of strength training. And to stay on a healthy eating plan. That also is going to be a challenge since I will be out and about most of the day where grabbing fast food is going to be very tempting and seem like an easy option. But I will stay strong and come prepared. Sum up your thoughts for the 4th week of Healthy Challenge. I can't believe we are one-third of the way through this challenge already. I think I have made some pretty good changes in my life. I am using my bike more to get around town instead of driving. I started a strength training program and bumped up the amount of cardio I had been doing prior to the start of this challenge. I have a new frame of mind when it comes to deciding “what's for dinner”. I am thinking more about what the food can do for me and still be tasty. I am looking at healthier ways to prepare meals. I have identified what my calorie needs are and figured out how to stay within my calorie budget. Turning off the TV during meals times is also working out great. I really enjoy my meals more and it helps me figure out if I am eating out of boredom. If I reach for the remote/keyboard/iPhone while eating, then I figure I am bored, not hungry and stop eating. It has been a good week and I feel great. I am looking forward to the next eight weeks.

Week Three

What did you find most challenging this week? Making time for strength training and cardio work. That means spending more time working out. It was more of a mental challenge than anything else. I have the time to work out. It is just convincing myself that I want to spend the extra time at the Y. But in the end it is worth it. I feel good after the workouts. And I didn't give in. I did 6 days of cardio work and 4 days of strength training. What accomplishment were you most proud of this week? I conquered the StairMill! I tried this a few years ago but I couldn't even get going on it without falling off the back. I am sure I was very entertaining to whoever happened to be in the Y at the time! But twice this week I did 15 minutes on it. That was 45 floors. I never in my wildest imagination thought I could climb 45 floors at one shot. So that gave me an idea for a new goal. I am going to do the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Big Climb next March. That means I will be climbing all 69 floors up the Columbia Tower. What are your goals for next week? I want to increase my time spent on the StairMill. That machine really gets the heart pumping. I am also going to continue strength training 3 times on the weight machines and go to at least one Forever Fit class. And I am also going to ride my bike the entire length of the Centennial Trail (Snohomish to Arlington and back) which is 34 miles round trip. Sum up your thoughts for the third week of Healthy Challenge. Another great week. I am having a lot of fun with this challenge. I tried another new vegetable. Parsnips this time. They were OK. Not sure I would go out of my way to cook them again. But I am loving this healthy eating. It is so much tastier than a fast food diet. Grease and salt doesn't even begin to compare to all the flavors you get with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. I am also finding ways to “healthafy” some of my favorites such as burgers and tacos. By cooking at home you can cut out a lot of the things that make these foods bad and add in more of the things that can make them good for you. My strength training is going good. I am sore but it is a good sore. I worked on my own 3 days this week using the weight machines. And then I took the Forever Fit class one day. I really enjoyed that class. It was at a level I could do and didn't torture my abs. I am also still walking and using my bike to get around town as much as possible. It makes me feel good not using my car for short trips. Healthy eating and exercise really is helping to keep my spirits up while I am looking for a job. Job hunting is depressing but this challenge is helping me to keep a positive outlook on life. You just feel so good eating right and exercising that it carries over to the rest of your life.

Week Two

What did you find most challenging this week? A lot of good things happened for me this week. I got on track with the calorie counting which was my biggest challenge last week. This week the big hurdle was getting started on a strength training program. I have tried the group strength training classes in the past but always had a hard time. I could do the basic weight lifting but found the abs portion extremely difficult. I have no lower ab strength and the upper abs cramp trying to compensate. Crunches are very difficult and painful after a while. Plus the group classes have you bending in ways I just don't bend. But I worked with Ericka this week on a plan that will work for me. It will be a challenge but it is something that I can do. I am really excited about it. What accomplishment were you most proud of this week? This week I turned the TV off during meal time. I found I paid more attention to what I was eating instead of mindless munching in front of the TV. I also have been eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I went to a farmers market and stocked up on all the fresh summer produce. I even tried beets for the first time. They were very tasty. I grilled them up on the BBQ. I also grilled peaches. I found that you can put more than steak on the BBQ. What are your goals for next week? My goal for this week is to work my strength training plan at least 3 times. I also want to find a new way to cook up some of the vegetables I have. Finding new and interesting ways to cook with fruits and vegetables will keep me from getting bored because I am eating the same thing over and over. This is going to be a lifetime change for me so I need to explore new ways to use all the healthy good foods. And I am also going to continue to have fun with entire challenge. I also need to continue to work on spreading my calories out throughout the day. You wouldn't think that would be a problem for somebody that is home all day but it seems to be. I have managed to keep myself so busy with the job search and working out at the Y that I have avoided all the boredom snacking. And I set a rule for myself during my unemployment that the TV does not go on until after 5PM. I did better this week than last on spreading the calories out but I need to work on it a bit more. Sum up your thoughts for the second week of Healthy Challenge. I had a great week. I ate healthy and it feels good. Eating right and exercising makes a big difference in my energy level. I sleep really good at night too. For my exercise I have mainly been doing the Group Cycle classes. I highly recommend it for beginners as you can work at your own pace without feeling like you are falling behind the rest of the class.

Week One

What did you find most challenging this week? Learning to track calories was my biggest challenge. There is a lot of information out on the internet to sort through to determine how many calories I should be consuming in a day. Every site seems to have their own opinion and working though all that to get a consensus took some time. Tracking got much easier once I found the Livestrong iPhone app. From the tracking this week I learned I consume most of my calories in the evening so I need to work on spreading that out more. What accomplishment were you most proud of this week? I walked and rode my bike on all my in-town errands this week. That gave me more exercise throughout the day. And we had such nice weather I really enjoyed spending some time out in the sunshine. What are your goals for next week? Working with Ericka to set up a strength training plan that is outside of my comfort zone. I want to challenge myself in some activities that I normally would not try. I will also work on spreading my calories out the the day. Sum up your thoughts for the first week of Healthy Challenge. This has been a fun and interesting week. I have had a lot of new information to digest and learn from. Still going through it all! This is a new way of thinking for me but I think it will make a positive change in my life.

Beginning of Challenge:

Goal: To explore new ways to improve my health no matter what challenges life throws at you.
Age: 42
Weight: 253 lbs
Height: 5' 6''

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