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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

41 pounds lighter…how i did it.

I instagrammed this pic last  week and the response was pretty overwhelming.
Thanks for all the encouragement!! Y'all bless me so much much.
The picture on the left was taken after I had already lost 25 pounds so it's not a true before and after pic.  It's more like a "middle and after" pic.  I was basically sharing what a surprise it was to pull that same shirt out of my drawer and have it fit so much bigger.  Had I known what a hit this picture was gonna be I woulda at least fixed my hair a little.  lol.

And you had a ton of questions so I thought I'd write a blog post to answer a few of them.

It seems like everyone wants to know how I did it. I can remember all too well of being in "the hunt"…desperate to lose weight. To find something….some plan or technique that worked for another person and then copy it to the T.  But I think there is danger in doing that.  We set ourselves up for failure when we try to do it exactly the way another person has.  Why?  Because we are all different.  Our bodies are different.  Our  metabolism works differently.  

About 6 years ago I succumbed to turning to a specific program to lose weight.  I remember vividly the night I ordered it after watching an info commercial.  I was the heaviest I had ever been at that point in my life weighing in at 200 lbs and feeling very depressed and discouraged.  I had just finished watching The Biggest Loser for the first time. They had revealed the winner and I was amazed at the transformation.  But sooo depressed and feeling somewhat helpless at that point feeling like I was "too far gone".  But as I was flipping through the channels that night, I came across that infomercial that stopped me dead in my tracks.  The testimonies were amazing.  The transformations were incredible and the plan seemed doable.  It was all based on our metabolism and finding the right food that works for our body types.  I didn't have to order food or anything like that…I prepared and cooked all of my own stuff.  And exercise was part of the plan too. It was basically eating healthy and exercise… good stuff.   

So I ordered the plan.  Nick was behind me 100%.  His support was a huge part of my success on this plan.  You had to eat small meals every 2-3 hrs on this plan so he would grill chicken and pork for me and we would spend hours in the kitchen weighing portions and putting them in ziplocks for me to pull out quickly and conveniently.  You had to eat so many carbs, proteins and vegetables at certain times of the day, etc.   No dairy, no sugar, no salt and a very limited amount of certain types of carbs.  I walked every day plus did some toning exercises three days a week. It was a very healthy plan and I followed it to a T.  I don't know if it was my resolve to lose weight or the fact that I had spent so much money on a diet system so I was determined to make it work.  I did not fudge in one single thing they instructed me to do.

And it worked. The pounds just fell off. I lost 50 lbs in 4 months and I felt and looked better than I had in years.
  The problem was I had set myself up to fail because the reality of living a lifetime preparing and eating food in this manner was unrealistic.  I carried a little insulated lunchbox with my chicken and banana in it everywhere I went. Toting my own salad dressings in my purse got old. And even though the success to following this plan was proven in my own life, I just got bored with the food.   Eventually I began to creep back into my old habits and ways of eating.  And eventually the weight began to creep back too.  I gained it all back plus some.

So what is different this time?  What's gonna stop that from happening again?
Because this time, I didn't follow a plan.  I didn't read a certain diet religiously and follow exactly what someone else did for success.    
I didn't want restrictions from food.  I wanted freedom from food.

I wanted to make changes that were realistic for my lifestyle and my family.  We LOVE food around here.  We love cooking it and we love eating it.  We love serving food to other people. I knew I didn't want to set myself up for failure again by being bound to a plan that I would eventually become bored with. 

So for those of you who have asked what I did to lose the weight and what I am eating now, please read the next few things with caution. I am not an expert.  I don't have all the answers.  I am not following a certain anything.  I don't want anyone trying to follow the "Honey Diet" because there is no such thing.  I eat a wide variety of things and even some things that are considered fattening in the "diet world". But I do it all in moderation.   I will share with you some of the changes we made around here and how they have benefited us but just know your journey may be different.  You have to find what works for you.

For me, there were no shortcuts or jumpstarts.  I wanted to make the kind of changes that would stick for a lifetime.  So it's basically eating healthy and exercise. As friend of mind put it… it's a marathon not a sprint and that is how I approached it all.

**I'm not bashing all diet plans… There are plenty that are helpful and very healthy.  I'm just saying that I personally cannot stay on specific plan for a lifetime.  

The Food
What we DO eat:
  • We basically eat whole foods. 
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables are a staple around here.  Very few things from a can or box.
  • We try to eat stuff that only has one or two ingredients listed on the back. 
  • Lots of protein in the form of chicken and fish.
  • Lots of venison…it's super lean
  • Lots of fresh farm eggs.  And yes….we eat the yolk.  Since discovering Nick's diabetes, he eats a boiled egg every morning.  We were bad about skipping breakfast which is a no no for him now.
  • We still eat fats we just make sure they are good fats. Avocados are a staple now.  I smear them on everything.  I cook with coconut oil and olive oil.
  • We eat brown rice, sweet potatoes, beans and whole oats.
  • Almonds are our favorite snack.
  • Plain greek yogurt.  I eat it with  fruit, in smoothies, and in recipes that call for creamy stuff like sour cream and mayonnaise. I've made salad dressing with it…. Love that stuff.
  • We prefer to cook our own chicken but I do keep a bag of pre-cooked grilled chicken that I buy at Sam's to keep in the freezer.  I use it on days when I'm in a hurry and don't have time to cook.  I toss some chicken in salads, in wraps with peppers, and in stir fry with vegetables.  It is a perfect "fast food" and worth the splurge in the extra money it costs.

What we DON'T eat
  • Sugar. We have limited the sugar pretty much completely. Especially now with Nick's diabetes. We don't keep sweet tea in the fridge anymore. Nor do we keep all the sweet snacks in the house.  Except for my chocolate stash.  I have a piece of that once or twice a week.  Just a square.  The reality of me never eating chocolate again is ludicrous. So I've learned portion control.  I don't have to eat the entire candy bar to be satisfied.  
  • I quit using Splenda  in my coffee. We started using Truvia, which is a natural sweetener made from the stevia plant. We tried several different brands and found this one to taste the best…no aftertaste. We use real half and half instead of the processed powered creamer. 
  • We no longer fry anything…Which is huge for this southern family.  I mean, fried deer steaks and smothered potatoes is one of the first meals every good lil southern wifey learns to cook for their man. And let's not even talk about the fried chicken.  But I've come up with great alternatives to both….I promise recipes soon.
  • We don't keep Cokes in the house. And by Cokes, I  am referring to any carbonated soft-drink not just Coca-cola.  It's pretty much water, water and more water around here. 
  • We don't eat bread.  I used to have to serve a bread with every meal.   Whether it was a roll, biscuit, french bread or corn bread…a meal wasn't complete without a little bread.  Well we have broke free from that mind set and it is amazing!  Freedom for me because I could scarf down 4 brown and serve rolls with my roast and gravy without batting an eye.   We do occasionally eat Ezeikiel Bread which is sprouted bread and Joseph's pita bread which is low in carbs…but that is not everyday.
  • We quit drowning our salads in dressing.  It kills me to think how we would sabotage our nice big delicious salads with all the dressing that covered up all the flavor of the veggies and totally wrecked any health benefits it had.  Now I either use some fresh guacamole or hummus if I'm wanting something a little more than the balsamic vinegar we usually use. (my guac is basically avocados mashed up with a little olive oil, garlic powder and lime)
  •  We stay away from white rice, pasta and white potatoes but have learned of plenty of alternatives to these when needing side dishes for my meals.  Brown rice, zucchini, cauliflower and sweet potatoes can all be used instead and are so good and delicious.
This was my first time to make this.  I died at how good it was.   Recipe to come soon!

 We still eat our favorite dishes, we have just tweaked them and now cook them in a healthier way.  We discovered that cauliflower is  the magic veggie…like the holy grail of whole foods. I've made mock fried rice, cheese sticks and mashed potatoes using it.  I still gotta make that pizza crust I see floating around on Pinterest.   

For us, it hasn't been about depriving ourselves of anything.  It's been about discovering new things that we like just as much and even better.  You can still enjoy eating food while losing weight and being healthy. I  promise to begin posting some of our recipes and share some of my menus and products we've found.

The Exercise

So many have asked what I do to exercise and my schedule and all that.   When I was in intense weight loss mode,  I walked/ran on the treadmill  5 days a week averaging 3-4 miles each time.  I made it non-negotiable.  I did it when I wanted to and did it when I didn't want to.  I used the "Couch to 5k" app on my phone and gradually worked myself up to running the entire 50 minutes I was on it.  

Many have asked what I listen to while I run.  Well I don't have these amazing times of worship like so many of you runners who inspire me so much….y'all who listen to worship music as you run through beautiful areas of God's creation.  But what has worked for me is to find a show on Netflix that I really like and watch it on my iPad while I'm running.  I ONLY allow myself to watch it while I'm on the treadmill.  This is nonnegotiable too…I haven't fudged one time and watched it unless I'm running.  So I will have to attribute some of my success to Joan, Megan, Betty and Peggy.  I love, love, love getting inspired by their fashion while I'm sweating.  Shallow I know, but it worked for me. 

But that's the thing….do what works for YOU.  Heading outside and running wear I live is kinda dangerous for me.  It is very rural and lots of huge log trucks are up and down our road.  We live too far out to drive to a nice area to run every day so for me,  the treadmill was the best solution.  And the thought of running in place staring at a wall listening to music, even thought I LOVE music,  has no appeal to me.  I wouldn't look forward to it and therefore wouldn't stick to it.  Find what works for you and do it!  The key is just doing something!

Now that I'm in maintaining mode and I don't have much more I want to lose, I have shaken things up a bit and experimented with how I get my exercise in.  The treadmill is still my primary source and fave  but now I added a few other things in the mix.   

I have encouraged the ladies at my church to get active and now we do a dvd together on wednesday nights before church starts.  It's fun seeing them get results and the accountability is awesome for all of us.   We have a diverse group and I LOVE that!  None of us do it perfect but we are doing it and that's what counts.  They are such troopers…Ms Pat stops on her way home from work and never even goes home on Wednesdays until after church.  Carolyn has special needs but she gets out there with her weights and gets her work out on.  Mama Rob is almost 80 and can exercise cirlces around us.  The rest of us in our group all have our challenges that could keep us from being there but we are committed and that's what it takes.

I haven't done anything fancy when it comes to my exercise.  It's all basic stuff.  I haven't joined a gym or bought a lot of equipment…just a used treadmill for $75.   
It doesn't take a lot of fancy equipment…just a lot of commitment.

The Results
I know y'all like numbers so I'm gonna get transparent here…

Some have asked how long it has taken me to lose my weight. 
  • I started on April 15th of last year weighing in at 209 pounds and wearing 14's and 16's in my clothes.  That was a record high for me.  
  • I quickly dropped 12 pounds the first month and consistently lost an average of 5-7 lbs each month thereafter until around 3 months ago and then it just kind of hit a plateau with the my weight.   
  • But even though the weight loss began to taper off, my pants size was still shrinking.  I was beginning to see the results of all the running and toning.
  • As of the last time I weighed, I'm down 41 pounds, weighing in at 168 pounds and wearing size 10's. I have even gotten into a few size 8's so I'm pretty tickled about that.  I'm a tall girl (5'9") and have always weighed more than I look so I don't let the number on the scale freak me out. 
  •  I only weighed myself once a week in the beginning and now I only weigh myself every now and then.  The scale can mess with your mind ladies.  Regretfully I didn't measure myself in the beginning to know how many inches I've lost but going from a size 16 to 8 is enough to make me happy. 

Well there you have it…That's it folks in a nutshell.
Eat clean and exercise.  That's my secret.  
No plans.  No diets. 
 I hope this encourages someone today.  Hang in there. Keep on keeping on.  

And before I go here are some before and after pics for you….because who doesn't like a good before and after pic?  I can't believe them myself.  
 January 2013.                                    October 2013.
   April 2013                                       October 2013

Same shirt! 

I hope something I shared encourages you today to make a change so you can begin to enjoy the rewards of a healthy lifestyle too.
 It's the best.
Can't wait to hear your story!



  1. Inspirational!!! I am currently starting my own weight loss journey after losing 40 lbs a few years back and gained it all back due to stress and just life in general. Starting my plan last week and am looking forward to the results to feeling better about myself and my life!

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  2. This was what I was waiting for. Thanks for the inspiration once again. You are definitely a rock star! Hugs!

  3. First off, I love your hair in the first picture, haha, you look 20!!!!!!!!! You are soooo encouraging! I'm trying with everything in me to like sweet potatoes, it's a struggle! So amazing that y'all have pretty much given up bread, I did that for a couple months before and felt soooo good and light and had so much more energy!!! Isn't it crazy that sometimes we prefer to eat something yummy over having energy?? Ridiculous...that's me! Thanks so much for your encouragement! Joshua and I are off sweets starting tomorrow (mostly for the baby's sake) but I'm looking forward to it and making healthier decisions! woo! :)

  4. You are a joy to follow! I cannot wait to hopefully meet you in person next weekend when I come to Sera Beth's wedding! you just inspire me to work hard to take care of my body. Praise the Lord for your perseverance and commitment to take care of your temple! XOXO

  5. Congrats! You look amazing - you should be proud!

  6. I have loved following you on Instagram, and you've always been such a godly encouragement to me! Congrats on taking care of your temple, and sharing with us what has worked for you. My husband and I are doing the ten day Daniel Plan Detox off from sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, and dairy. We are continuing with clean eating and exercising to make it a lifestyle change. So much of what you've mentioned sounds like the foods we're eating, along with exercise, so we're so excited to see the long-term changes we'll be making in our bodies and our health. I agree with you on avocado~it is a daily favorite of mine, and my 4 year old son loves it, too! :)

  7. I love it. I love you for sharing. Thank you for always being real and an inspiration to others.

  8. Stephanie OMG you look fantastic! What a gorgeous mama, you don't look old enough to be a "honey". What an inspiration yu are!

  9. Hi Stephanie! I am so impressed and inspired by you! I had a hysterectomy in January 2013 and I have gained 20 pounds! I have always been slim....5'7 and high 120's. Now I am upper 140's and so sad about it. I am refusing to buy any clothes for my new size, so I keep rotating between a jean skirt and a pair of pants. Not easy when you teach every day! I have been trying to find time to exercise every day. I need to get up at 5 to do it, because I will have to get in the shower right at 5:30. I leave the house at 6:30, and that includes making lunches, etc....I am really going to try. I love following you, Nick, and your girls on Instagram. Thanks for blessing me with your story Steph! You rock girlfriend! xo Monica at Prince Snow Farm

  10. You look great!! You are such an inspiration!! Congratulations on your healthy changes. May God bless y'all always!!! thanks for sharing!! :)

  11. Thank you for sharing. Reading your journey has given me the inspiration to not give up on my own journey!

  12. Wow! good for you and I so agree, you have done it the right way, developed a lifestyle and not a diet.

    And, I, too, watch TV series, such as Dowton Abbey on my Ipad while I am on my treadmill each morning. It makes the time so much more enjoyable.

    Inspiring post!

  13. thanks for the honest look at your life. I, too, am on a journey. My son just turned 1 year old today and I'm still working on that pre-baby body. I find it hard to sneak in a meal when this little one begs for food just as bad if not worse than my dogs beg. However, I am a work in progress and I did join a Mom's workout group. Most of us moms in that group are in the same boat and use that time as motivation just to get dressed for the day (even if it is dressed in workout gear). It's a pretty good workout group that we can bring our kiddos and stroll them in the stroller. I've rejoined a weight loss program that has worked for me that is realistic for me and my family's lifestyle. But I do love my sweets and fully loaded Coke as treats. All with moderation, right???
    I do have one you have any food allergies? And if so, how do you handle them? What do you use as substitutes? If not, no worries....just thought I would ask.
    Again, thanks for being so honest and is so refreshing.

  14. Andrea Jones (chattmom)March 5, 2014 at 4:54 AM

    Thank you! Such an encouragement to read this. You look fantastic!

  15. You look amazing! Thanks for the encouraging words! It is not quite as easy to stay in shape as we get older, but it is doable!! Go girl!! Susan

  16. You look great! I like how you don't have a diet plan... clean eating (i need to do this better) and exercise is the best "diet!"

  17. I love that you shared all this and were REAL! YOU are influencing so many people thru your real weight loss journey. Can I say how much I wish we were neighbors?! I love seeing how God is using your story for His glory. And I promise you, for all of us that commented there are more who read it and will start doing what you are because we see Him in you and everyone wants some :) Love you friend! Keep up the good work! Can't wait to see some recipes!

  18. Awesome job! You look marvelous! I cannot believe you are a HONEY already?! Love that you have shared this with all of us. I am a newcomer to your blog but love you and what you have to say. Thanks so much for being such an inspiration!!

  19. mrs stephanie, you have done great!! i have loved being able to see your results here on your blog and on IG. sometimes running can get boring, but seeing people like you makes me want to keep it up. :) you go, honey!!

  20. WOW WOW WOW!! what an amazing testimony of what eating right and exercising can do!! i love that you said you don't deprive yourselves of anything but that you've learned to tweak and enjoy things you've already liked! thank you for sharing!

  21. I have been following you on instagram and your blog for some time. You are in inspiration. I just want to tell you that I thoroughly enjoy the pictures and stories that you share. I am amazed at how small our world becomes through the power of the internet. We find people that if we lived close would definitely be friends. I am glad I found an online friend. Keep up your wonderfulness......

  22. Very inspiring!! Great Job! :)

  23. you go girl! loved reading this! your "after" pictures look so youthful! you have inspired me!

  24. I found your blog looking at your Stitch Fix pictures (we have the same style and I have a couple of your pics posted on my Pinterest page (hint, hint, Stitch Fix). My start weight is about 1/2 lb off your start weight. I'm also a tall girl (5'11") so my scale weight is generally higher than how I look, but I'm tired of being an XL. Thanks for posting your plan. A friend from high school lost weight doing the same thing you did . . . whole foods, minimal processing and plenty of healthy exercise. I am restarting my weight loss with a lifestyle change rather than a new diet fad. Thanks for the inspiration. God bless. xoxox


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