Sunday, April 14, 2013

on losing and gaining

aaaaand that's a wrap.

after nearly 8 months, i finally reached my goal yesterday.

i lost 60 pounds.

it's really hard for me to believe that i did it. i know that keeping healthy will be something i have to chose to do everyday, forever, but it feels like a million bucks to be here; at the end of one part and at the start of another. the losing is done, and the living is here. this is a new version of me and i'm outta-control-excited to feel good and be moving forward.

what's most crazy about the last 8 months is not what i lost, but what i learned. it's pretty crazy that something like weight loss reminded me to have hope. to keep trying. to be proud of myself.

my advice, if you have ever said to your self 'i could never do it' about anything, not just losing weight, is to stop. take it back. nobody ever said that anything in life would be easy, but if it's worth it, do it anyway. sweat your way through the hard part and reach your goal. 

i'll keep sweating (and cursing) my way through the hard stuff, because on the other side of struggle is a renewed sense of purpose. who knew?!

if the proof is in the pudding, then here's dessert. this is me the weekend before i started to lose the poundage. and here's me yesterday in my new dress that i bought in celebration of reaching my goal.
here's to reaching more goals, being less afraid of failure, and doing anything you put your mind to.


Monday, January 28, 2013

on food that helps you lose weight (and point values, too, yo!)

hey you. i promise you that this will only be interesting (even in the slightest) if you're looking for ideas about what to eat while trying to lose weight. regularly scheduled funny-kid stories will resume shortly. please stay tuned. until then, unless you're looking for said healthy food ideas, you probably want to stop reading. you were warned.

when i started losing weight, one of the hardest things for me was to find foods that filled me up, tasted good, and were still healthy. oh, and also, since we're not millionaires, they also had to be affordable. seriously, i would go to bed thinking about what i was going to eat, and i would wake up worrying about it even more. stress stress stress. i hated it. today though, it's so much a normal part of my day, that i really don't stress about it, but thinking back to the start of this, i realize that if i could have found a list of some good options, i would have been thrilled. and so i hope this is thrilling for you (she said sarcastically). :)

here are some go-to items that have saved me from starving to death, or more accurately, eating bag upon bag of doritos.

1. cliff bars. they don't suck. they're super high in protein and fiber and they can taste cookie-like. most importantly, they are great for an on-the-go meal option (think breakfast). get on board. 6ww+ points each.

2. soup. man there are some amazing soups out there. i'm a big fan of amy's organic, trader joe's organic/vegan split pea, and wolf gang puck's tortilla soup. soup is a super option because it fills you up, it's warm, and the soups listed above are not more than 2 or 3 ww+ points per serving. sa-weet.

3. fruit!! eat lots and lots of fruit! apples and bananas are the best! i eat probably two or three pieces of fruit each day. mmmm...fruit.

4. veggies!! eat lots and lots of veggies everyday too! i am not a big fan of raw veggies, so i cook them almost every night. i roast anything and everything under the sun. i use a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and garlic and roast it for 35 minutes at 375. mix it up a time or two while it's cooking and i TELL YOU, you will love it. roasted veggies are a staple at each dinner. my favorite are brussel sprouts, broccoli, and carrots. i could eat my weight in these, no joke. my own personal trick is that when i sit down to dinner, the first thing i eat is a TON of veggies. i let them fill me up so that while i do get to enjoy all the other stuff on my plate, i eat waaay less of it. when it comes to anything aside from fruit and veggies, it's all about the portion, so i keep an eye on it.

5. fish. i'm not a giant fish fan...i just can't get behind the fishy taste that some fish has. you know what i'm talking about. fishy fish. blech. BUT, if you're like me, and you have an aversion to fishy fish, fear not, there is a fish for you! tilapia has become a total go-to. there's a brand that i love called 'sea creations'. i find it in the freezer section at the local grocery store and to be honest, i'm kind of obsessed with it. you can get all kinds of different 'flavors' like parmesan crusted, tortilla, lemon, it goes on and on. i love the parmesan and each portion is 6 ww+ points. i probably eat fish two or three times a week.

6. brown rice. i get it. i love pasta, you love pasta, we all love pasta. but guess what, pasta hates you. don't eat it. instead, eat brown rice. it's a really good carb substitute. sometimes i put pasta sauce on it, sometimes i cook it with salsa, sometimes i put lemon juice and olive oil on it. the truth is, it's a side; a filler. but as far as fillers go, it's not all bad. one serving of brown rice is 4 ww+ points.

7. yogurt. non-fat greek yogurt DOES taste just like sour cream and can be used in a ton of baked goods. it's awesome. and one tablespoon is ZERO points. last night i made chip dip with it! a little dry onion soup mix with about a tblsp of greek yogurt. delicious with sweet potato chips. mmmm. a friend of mine also hates the taste of low-fat or reduced fat salad dressing (ranch). so instead, she cuts it with greek yogurt 1 to 1. i wasn't a fan, but she swears by it. and i get it, we all have our things (think: tilapia). i also devour yogurt with banana. almost everyday, after the kiddos head to bed, i will cut up a banana in a bowl, add some strawberry greek yogurt, and give a nice lil' dollop of reddi wip. all that for 3 ww+ points. uh, yes please.

8. brownberry thin bagels. looking for a bread option? you found one! for three points, you get bread enough to make a sandwich, a pizza, a breakfast sandwich, or anything else you want. and here's, the good news, it actually tatses like a bagel. (some of the low-fat-nasty-bread/wrap-options taste like a flip flop and make me angry) these are awesome. for a bread lover like me, it's a gift straight from lil' baby jesus.

9. corn cakes. corn cakes are a great replacement for a lot of holes that dieting can leave in your meal planning (i'm thinking the sides here). these are great for breakfast with a little sugar or even just plain. we also eat them with mexican chicken in place of tortillas or tortilla chips, with soup, or whenever your craving a carbo-side. we all need those and i support it. these are a good option and you can make a ton at once and keep them in the fridge or freezer. google search 'corn cake recipe' and you'll find a million options but in general, they're 1 ww+ point each.

10. cottage cheese. i eat a lot of it. i like mine with french dressing. so sue me. it's super filling and super easy. it's the no worry, no stress snack. depending on the kind you get, it's generally about 3 points per serving. boom.

listed here are some other go-to meal options that i cook for the family. i am a HUGE believer that i'm not on a diet, i'm just eating smarter. and so why shouldn't i cook smarter for everyone?! so, obviously, i cook smart for my family too. here's what we eat a lot of.
turkey chili
turkey burgers
sloppy joes (make with low-sodium chicken gumbo soup)
chicken (in every form possible. i generally cut out 'cream of' soups and butter, but seriously, chicken can be made so many ways it blows my mind. just gotta be smart and keep the portion in check)
turkey kilbasa
home-made pizza.

i promise that i won't make this lil' blog into 'shannon's weight loss update page that no one cares anything about' because trust me, aint nobody got time for that. just thought i would share what has worked for me. hopefully you find something that helps you too!

be well and do good!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

on making the impossible happen.

happy 2013!

i remember, like it was yesterday, when i rang in 2000. at the stroke of midnight that year, i thought instantly of my then-friend, matt schans. i wondered what would come of us, and i hoped for the best. that's why 13 years later, i feel more than lucky to have him as my best friend, my husband, and as the dad to my amazing crew. i am an overly blessed nerd.

i know i owe you all an update on kids, holidays, school, and life, but first, i want to share what's been keeping me busy as of late.

this summer, i went on a super fun filled girls weekend where i was able to spend some much needed quality time with the some of the women in my life who i count as most important. when i returned from my fun, and was looking over some of the pictures, i recognized each of them, but there was one figure i couldn't quite place. it was me, and i was shocked to see that what i looked like on the outside was so vastly different than what i had been envisioning all this time. turns out, i was fat, and i didn't like what i saw.

don't get me wrong, i have never been, nor will i ever be, super wrapped up in my appearance or in what i weighed. however, i noticed that my health was suffering because of what my mouth was eating. my arthritis was out of control, my blood pressure was eeking up, and my energy was headed south. i felt bad, and when i allowed myself even a moment to actually feel it, i was so disappointed in what i had allowed to happen.

after a brief freak out at my current state, i decided i would actually try and change things. two days later, i found myself staring face to face with a bigger than life sized picture of jennifer hudson. there, too, was that smiley jerk jessica simpson, and also my not-so-good friend charles barkley. ugh. i was at my first weight watchers meeting, and i wasn't thrilled.

over the last few months, i have eaten better, and even started working out. my biggest loser videos have been torturous and hate-filled. changing my lifestyle has been filled with challenges, but it's becoming easier. i still make the stink eye at j. simps every time i see her and i swear at anna kornikova on my TV screen when she tells me that she loves doing lunges while i am sucking wind and barely able to remain standing, but my work is paying off. so far, i've dropped 45 pounds. even more exciting to me has been the health improvements. my body feels new! i'm able to do things now that before i wouldn't even have attempted. i'm so thankful that the tangible proof is there too. i'm off my major arthritis meds, my blood pressure is perfect, and i don't break out into a sweat doing something as hard core as, oh i don't know...bending over. can i get an amen?

weight loss, for me, has been a surprising gift. one that i worked hard for, but also one that has given me much more than i thought possible. i gotta say, i'm pretty stoked. as shocking as it seems, i can't find one snarky or sarcastic thing to say about it. it's just good.

i know i have more to go, but this process is slow and progressive. it's more than food, but lifestyle. it's more than a pants size, it's re-imagining what i'm capable of. it's all the things you think it will be, but convince yourself aren't worth it. but here's the secret: it IS worth it.  not because being thin is magic, but because feeling good is powerful.

i'm telling this in such an honest way not because i want to brag. there is NOTHING more annoying to me than someone who has lost weight flaunting it in the face of someone who hasn't, but who wants to. trust me, i know. but, my perspective changed a bit after a conversation with a friend who is on the same journey that i am. she wisely reminded me that when you brush something like this under the rug and pretend it's not a big deal to you, you rob that person of the potential of the situation. you're stealing their inspiration. and so i'm sharing. i lost it. i want to lose more. and more than anything, i want to keep it off and keep it healthy. and as cliched as it sounds, for those of you who know me, you know this is true: if i can do it, ANYONE can do it.

in all of this, i'm not looking for congratulations, but rather, encouragement. and perhaps, you'll share your story with me. if you're doing this too, if you want to do this too, or if you just want to acknowledge that you're healthy and you're proud, go for it! be proud of wherever you are, because this stuff is important. being mindful of my body, and finding success, has allowed me to dream of bigger things for my life and for my mind. i really can't emphasize enough how much i though i would fail at this. and to have succeeded, even at this level, reminds me that putting limits on yourself is nothing short of stupid. so don't do it. instead, dream big and anything can happen.

here's picture proof that change can happen. on the left is a picture of me on my girl's weekend. and on the right is me today. it may not look like much to you, but it feels like a new world to me.

here's to losing it all, and gaining everything else. BOOM!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

on being in a funk and finding someone else who is too.

i have never read something that sounded as if it were me writing it like this post does.

so so so thankful that she found the words that i've been looking for. 

being in a funk and waiting, waiting, waiting.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

on eating healthy(er) and identifying a pineapple

never in my life have i been in a place where i would choose a piece of fruit over a piece of cake, but at 34, this girl's gotta start paying a lil' more attention to my 'choices' if i don't want to be cut out of my house in 25 years. so with the garden in full and bountiful bloom offering lots and lots of veggie choices, i decided i better hope on the healthy train while i can, and while it's free.

on top of enjoying so many super good vegetables from the garden, i've also been frequenting local farmers markets. i'm afraid that my impetus for dragging the kids with me stems from some jamie oliver 'food revolution' show i once saw where the school kids couldn't identify a real live carrot, but in any case, the crew has been coming along and learning to dig in to the local fair. how awesome, right? we're hooked on zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and the favorite? baby (pickle sized) cucumbers, sliced up with a little salt sprinkled on top.

this week, to my delight, i found that a huge amount of fruit is on sale at my favorite grocery store, aldi. thinking i would be all hawaiian, i grabbed a pineapple, quizzed my kids as to what it was, and relieved that they all answered correctly, i tossed it in the cart along with apples, a melon, blueberries, and a whole truck load of strawberries. awe-some.

tonight, after all the kids went to bed and i could audibly hear the chocolate chip cookies calling to me from the kitchen, instead of eating half a bag of them, i got to work on that beast of a pineapple. here's how i made it work for me.

hawaiian salty limey joy treat
1. slice it all up (duh)
2. choose an appropriate amount that you want to eat, remembering that too much pineapple will land you on the porcelain thrown for a good amount of time. you've been warned so choose wisely.
3. cut up a lime and sprinkle about a fourth of a lime's juice on to the portion you've arraigned for yourself keeping in mind my warning.
4. sprinkle a modest amount of sea salt on top of each piece of pineapple.
5. find yourself a place where no one will judge you about how fast you'll eat pineapple and go to town.
6. message me with showers of praise and thanks.

if i come across any other must haves over the course of this little adventure i'm on, i'll let you know. will you do the same?! until then, here's to eating healthy(er) and enjoying it!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

on growing up.

lots of growing up this summer for the schans kids. more than once, i've heard 'ellee has lost her 'little girl look' and 'sophie's really getting tall.' but if i'm being real (and when am i not?) on a day to day basis, it's not always easy to see that your kids are changing; that in between sprinklers and play dates, they're growing up right in front of your face. but not every day is like today.

after a long summer of trying, and failing, to teach the older girls how to ride their bikes without training wheels, today it finally happened. today, matt took sophie and ellee on a real bike ride around the neighborhood. it's amazing how much i felt as the sped away from me and around the corner until i coudn't see them anymore. it was such a mix of happy and sad; relieved that they accomplished such a milestone of childhood, but sad that they are one step closer to a driver's license. while i know it'll be a lot harder when they drive away, this felt like a real step too. it's so awesome. and it's so hard.

tried to take a picture of my two bike riding girls. casey was jealous and therefore photobombed the moment. that's cool.
the older girls weren't the only ones making a splash today. nora endured her first day of potty training. and by the end of the day, she made a lil' splash of her own into our well-used froggy potty chair. it's almost unreal to think that in a matter of weeks, after nearly 196 years 7 years of buying diapers, we'll be done. i can hardly imagine a trip to target without buying the 96 pack of size sixes. amazing.

my baby who really isn't. today was hard for her because much like me, she's in no hurry to let go of being the baby. she found success, and was rewarded with ice cream. here's to a lifetime of successful peeing, nora, and countless more bowls of ice cream. xoxo.
today, we're celebrating. and i'm remembering when they were little...and that they won't always be.

these kids are something special.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

on girl's weekend and the week that followed.

when august arrives, i always get a case of 'the sads.' the summer's-almost-over-and-i-still-have-so-much-i-want-to-do sads.

don't feel too bad for me though. i gotta say, we have been one busy bunch these last two months and maybe the fall will bring some rest!

no rest last weekend, however, as i spent some quality time with three of the people who have helped shape me into who i am and how i live. my college roomies and i celebrated (and i mean celebrated) our second annual girl's weekend. when the four of us get together, it's nothing short of a miracle. these things don't just happen.

16 years have past since meeting these women in a stuffy hot dorm room in south hall on trinity's campus, and in those years, we've all filled up our lives. we have fourteen children between us. we have husbands, houses, jobs, and lives that are lived hundreds of miles apart in three different states. but when we do get together, none of it matters and that's why we make the effort. we do it because we're good for each other. in the two days we spend together each year, we laugh, eat, talk, laugh some more and maybe drink a little vino too.

these weekends are more than just that though. in those two days, we're allowed the time to remember that no matter the miles and the years, we're still in this together. when the days get hard, we're not alone. and in our victories, we all cheer. this friendship is lifelong and i'm so grateful to be a part of this posse.

here's to 50 more girl's weekends, ladies, and 1,000 more bottles of silver beach.

isn't she lovely?
livin' large.
i adore this picture and this person.

this might be my favorite 'shannon and jeni' picture ever.
the weather was perfect. and so was the view. thanks to andi's uncle bob and aunt barb for the use of the greatest cottage on the planet.
ladies, we still got it.
this is where the self-timer goes wrong.
i blame andi.
this is us. and we're awesome. and ladies, you're welcome for the ones i didn't post. (evil laughter.)

since getting back to life (back to reality, back to the here and now, oh yeah) i've been spending lots of time soaking up time with the schans kids. sophie spent the week at smart kids camp young scholars day camp, and the three amigos and i kept busy doing lots of outside stuff now that it feels less like i want to die the second i step outside (ummm, the heat this summer, wtf?). today we ventured into the beloved forest preserve and i had the chance to snap a few summer shots.

the winding wooden stairs that lead down to the path. nora is finally able to do them alone. phew.
cute kids.
green green green. having seen how hard so much of the midwest has been hit by this drought, i don't take this for granted.
me and mimi me.
group shot fail.
the floating bridge. it makes me nervous.
we missed sophie, but made the best of our days. so glad that next week, we'll all be back together!

  i feel like we're sprinting toward fall and the start of school and everything else that the end of summer brings. i'm not ready for it. so, even though i find myself worn out by the business of summer, i'm going to soak it up. we've got plans for lazy august days, eating fried food on a stick at the minnesota state fair and some day trips around the twin cities. when fall does get here, i'm going to need a serious nap. 

long live summer fun!