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Ok, I have more than one pair, but I’m talking about a specific pair.

They’re cargo pants from Old Navy that I bought about 3-4 years ago. At the time, they were a little too big – as in, I could pull them on/off without unbuttoning them.

Then life happened and I seemed to balloon …. At my heaviest (158ish), I tossed the pants in the back corner of the closet, knowing I’d never get back into them.

Then, I changed my attitude, my eating habits, my activity level and kept thinking about those pants. I knew that if I ever got to the point where I could pull them on/off without unbuttoning them again, I’d be successful in this fitness endeavor.

Well, the day has come, and I’m happy to say those kahki cargos I love so much are falling off! Sweet success!!

Bonus: The scale this morning (and yesterday morning) said 135.6 … Officially 20+ pounds lighter than I was 10 months ago when I decided enough was enough.

Was it hard, yeah. Was it worth it, hell yeah! Not only do I feel great & think I look pretty darn good, I’m learning to love my body and nourish it in all the right ways – good food, exercise, & positive thoughts.

Can you do it too? HELL YES! And I’ll be here cheering you on as you do it. 🙂

Last week, I listened to a speaker talk about how important it is to take care of ourselves and have “me” time. It really resonated with me and I started thinking about all the things I used to do for myself but don’t do anymore.

Now, if you know me, you’re probably wondering what the hell I DO since it seems like I have oodles of time for myself. (Seriously, I ask myself the same question sometimes.) One of the exercises this speaker urged us to do was write down all the things that take up your time and energy and see where you can trim from. I noticed that I waste a lot of time on the internet just putzing around, looking at recipes, get sucked into Twitter, or just randomly checking Facebook or e-mail (I’m really not that popular, so there’s no need for me to check it every 10 minutes.)

So, today, I made a conscious decision to do what I really wanted to do – read – versus what I thought I should be doing – studying, cooking – or the reality of what I would be doing – putzing on the net and feeling like I should be doing something productive, but unmotivated to do it.

I spent 3 hours curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a book while the rain fell outside. It was perfect. And now, I feel much more renewed and prepared to be productive tonight.

So, what have I learned from this little experiment?

  • It’s SO important to do something nice for yourself. You don’t have to always be doing something productive. It’s OK to make time for a relaxing bath, or just an afternoon of reading, or whatever it is that will make YOU happy.
  • I must limit my time at home on the internet. It’s so easy to get sucked into things and end up wasting SO much time doing nothing. On my days off, I’m going to try to limit my collective time on the internet to 3 hours a day – and in between uses, I think I’ll actually turn OFF the computer so I’m not tempted to open it up just to check e-mail.

Tell me, what’s something you would do for yourself if you had time and NO ONE to criticize you?

Wow. 20 weeks. Can you believe it? Some days I really can’t! Here are a few things I’ve learned over the last 20 weeks:

  • No matter what happens, you have to stay positive! Some days will be harder than others, and you’ll fall off the wagon, but the important thing is to realize you’re doing it, forgive yourself for making a mistake and recommit to being healthy. As Jenna, a fellow blogger, said in a recent article: You will not gain weight from one indulgent night on the town. It’s OK.
  • You can’t expect to get healthy if you’re not doing it for yourself. In addition, you can’t force anyone else to become healthy. When you want it for YOU is when it will happen.
  • Start with small changes. No one says the only way to get in the pool is to jump into the deep end with both feet. It’s TOTALLY OK to wade in from zero-depth entrance. If cutting out all soda is too much, try cutting out one a day. If trying a new fruit/vegetable a week is too much, try one a month. Go at your own pace. And don’t let anyone else tell you how you should be doing things – only YOU know what is best for YOU.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! It’s the only one you’ve got – so be nice. Everything you feel is your body’s way of telling you what’s going on. It may take a while to decipher what it’s telling you, but it will happen.
  • Numbers on the scale are just that – numbers. They don’t mean anything. Base your weight-loss on how you FEEL.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments – no matter how small. Set up a reward system and stick to it. Find inexpensive things (nail polish, new magazine, new book, CD, etc.) to reward yourself for accomplishments. It will make you feel good and keep you motivated.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things – you never know what you may find you like. Try yoga, or a spinning class, or running (the C25K program is awesome for beginners). Try new, healthy foods like lentils, millet, almond butter, a green monster/smoothie, chia seeds, quinoa, etc.

Here are a few photos I had Scott take of me today. I couldn’t decide which I liked better – I see flaws in each – but at the same time, I have to compare that to the photos I took 20 weeks ago (bottom). Even though I didn’t reach the 20 lb. loss mark, I’m still extremely proud of the 15.6 lbs I have lost.

Jess at end of 20/20 challenge

Jess at end of 20/20 challenge

Jess at end of 20/20 challenge - 15.6 lbs. lighter

Jess at end of 20/20 challenge

Jess at end of 20/20 challenge

Jess at end of 20/20 challenge

Jess at end of 20/20 challenge

Jess at end of 20/20 challenge

Jess before 20/20 challenge at 156 lbs.

Jess before 20/20 challenge at 156 lbs.

Jess before 20/20 challenge at 156 lbs.

Jess before 20/20 challenge at 156 lbs.

*** Warning: This post may be too much information for some … If you have to change the channel when you see a feminine hygiene commercial, stop reading. ***

Remember those early teen years? When we had no idea what was happening to our bodies? Our breasts were growing and man, did that hurt … We had cramps that we didn’t know how to get rid of … We cried at commercials and when anyone looked at us crossly …. And the food cravings – chocolate, chips, sugar, salt …

Aren’t you glad we’ve learned how to deal with this “gift” mother nature gave us? Now we take the cramps, cravings and moodiness in stride and try not to let it affect our lives (or at least let anyone SEE it affect our lives.)

Yeah, I’m right back there – feeling like a 13-year-old and learning how to deal all over again. See, I’ve gotten my first period in eight years. Yes, EIGHT years! I had been using depo provera and since decided to switch in hopes that some other health problems would subside. I knew I wasn’t going to look forward to this, but I honestly had forgotten how uncomfortable and (more) irritable I get.

So, here’s my question … how do you deal? What are your favorite things to do, or products to use, to get through that one week (or two for those of us with PMS) a month without alienating your family and friends and hiding under the covers? If you’ve got any natural remedies, please share … all I’ve found so far is an article on Martha Stewart’s Whole Living site that talks about teas, which I have every intention of trying.

Don’t be shy ladies … fess up and share the wealth. If it works for you, I want to know about it. Even if it’s just staying in bed and hiding for a week. I’m not opposed to doing that!