Guest Posts

Babymoon Guest Post: Erin’s Music = Motivation

Tina and I are currently living it up in San Diego on our babymoon (a.k.a. the last vacation a couple goes on before they turn into a trio). Since Erin graciously agreed to do a guest post for us back in October 2010 for our honeymoon, it was only fitting that I bug her politely ask her again to take over the reins and take care of the place while we’re incommunicado. Erin has long been one of my favorite bloggers, blogging with humor, bravado, and honesty. Erin’s blog was the VERY first blog that I posted a comment to back when I got into healthy blogging, and she was the very first person to leave a comment here at Stellar Path (prior, even, to its current incarnation). Thanks Erin!

***

Hi, Stellar Path readers! While Jeremy and Tina are off on their babymoon, I am going to take over Jeremy’s blog for the day. I blog about my life in general over at This Nebraska Life. I still report on my weight loss, but I don’t feel pressured to JUST talk about that!

Today, I wanted to talk about music. First and foremost, music is a very important part of my life. I grew up in a very music-oriented family. Several of my uncles have been in or currently play in bands. One of my cousins moved to California to pursue her dreams in musical theatre. I have another cousin who is the bassist for a Christian rock band. I grew up singing and playing every instrument I could get my hands on. Theatre was never a major interest, but I once portrayed Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!

But of course, I was skinnier then. Now, before you go thinking that I am beating myself up, I am not. I was always a chubster, but looking back, compared to where I’m at now… (shaking my head)

At my heaviest, I was in the 300 range and I started my weight loss journey in 2009. In 2010, I had lost about 75 pounds and was weighing in at about 227. After
that, “something came undone” and I ballooned back to 260 in late 2011. Currently, I am down to 244 and that number can keep on falling, as far as I’m concerned!

I still struggle with motivation, though. I love to run and I love to lift, but I’ve been definitely slacking in that area. Part of it is laziness, yes. Part of it is that I haven’t created the habit yet. That said, I am trying to create the habit. I went to the gym last night with a new playlist.

I felt like I had more energy, more vigor and more POWER as I worked out. I ran on the track, I walked on the track, but I also LIFTED for the first time in almost a year. It felt sooo good. I am sore as hell today, but I would rather be sore than full of regret over skipping another workout.

As I left the Y last night, I thought that maybe my new playlist was the reason behind my increased vigor. It was the mental boost I had needed. Yessir, it was. I was bored with my old playlist. It was great music, really it was. But I think I needed the change. It will certainly be interesting to see how long I use this playlist before I get bored again. Hopefully next time, I will notice it before the motivation dissipates.

Any songs I should consider for my next playlist? What motivates you in the gym?

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Guest Post: Healthy Homemade Pizza Crust

I asked my lovely wife, Tina, to do a guest post for me on this amazing pizza crust she makes for us. Just by virtue of it being homemade, I know it’s going to be healthier than a store bought (or delivery) pizza, and we make a few substitutions that make it healthier yet. (And of course – always everything in moderation.) Let me turn it over to Tina!

Hi ya’ll! Tina from Martha Wannabe here, aka Jeremy’s wife. I believe Jeremy has mentioned something about our homemade pizza Fridays; it’s a favorite in our house. I found a website called Perfect Planner Meals; there aren’t a great deal of recipes on there, as this is fairly new I believe, but the recipes I’ve tried have been great! Today I’m going to share with you the recipe of pizza dough, which was made with half white flour half wheat flour; it came out really nice! We’ve also had this dough made with all white flour, also excellent! It takes a little bit of time, but little effort… unless you have to knead by hand.

First, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar; this sits for about 5 minutes until it gets foamy.

Then comes the time consuming part; we add in half the flour, ½ cup oil, salt, and spices. There are no specific spices in the ingredients; just use whatever you want. I use about a tablespoon or so of basil, oregano, generic Italian spice, and garlic powder, whatever floats your boat; it can be trial and error for you! Mix that up until it’s smooth. I switch out the paddle for the dough hook at this point — much easier this way. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour ¼ cup at a time until incorporated; the dough should still be slightly tacky.

Hand knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth. In a medium sized bowl, add one tablespoon of oil and swirl around the bottom and sides. Add the dough and turn until fully coated in oil. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until double in size. This will make 2 crusts or 1 gigantic thick crust.

Tonight when I looked up the dough recipe, she had put up a new recipe for Pizza Bites. Start by spraying a muffin pans with nonstick spray, and then take the prepared dough, pinch off a small amount and press into the muffin pan, on the bottom and up the sides. Put in a spoonful of sauce and whatever toppings you want; we used spinach, beef, and mushrooms, and then added a little bit of cheese on top. Put in a 350º oven and bake for approximately 12 minutes; I think ours took about 15 minutes. It just depends on your oven! They were delicious and a nice change from the normal pizza. If you made just regular dough with no spices, you could fill this with some fruit and nuts, or chocolate and make a delicious dessert… now I wish I hadn’t put all the spices in mine!

The sauce I use is a recipe from this site as well; it’s delicious. Just don’t let your husband put entirely too much salt in it *ahem* even being too salty for my taste, the sauce was delicious, and it makes a ton. We’ve used it 3 times now and still have a lot left.

Enjoy your week! Happy pizzaing!

The actual recipes are below.

Deep Dish Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
Spices

Preparation:

In a large mixer bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 2 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup oil, and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, along with herbs and garlic (I use basil, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder–just small palm-fulls of each.) 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is srill slightly sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky., 3-5 minutes. Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 2 tsp. oil.
Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with a towel and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Divide into 2 equal portions and it’s ready to use!

Pizza Bites

Added toppings:
Mini pepperoni bites
Ground Italian sausage, sweet or hot, depends on you taste. I used spicy in my recipe. Brown the Italian sausage before assembling.
Hand shredded mozzarella. About 3 cups.
Assembly:
Spray a mini muffin tin with a non-stick spray. Tear off a small piece of dough, roll in the palm of your hand and stretch to line the muffin tin up to the lip, creating the shape of the muffin. Add about a tsp. of pizza sauce, Italian sausage, a small dollop of cheese and the tiny pepperoni.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 12 minutes until golden brown. Pop out of the tins, place on platter and watch them disappear!

Old World Style Pizza Sauce:
Ingredients:
6 ounces tomato paste
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 can tomato sauce (29 ounces)
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. rosemary
1-3 tsp. dried red pepper flakes–to taste
2 cups water
salt to taste

Directions:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir the tomato paste and olive oil together, then stir in the tomato sauce.
Add all of the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered for 3 hours, stirring frequently. Add water if sauce gets too thick, but it should reduce down to a thick paste that has enough body to cover a pizza.
Makes 3 cups, enough for 2-3 pizzas

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Tara’s Guest Post: Spouses & Weight Loss

I remember the first time I found Tara’s blog, 263 and counting. At the time, she was in week three of Couch to 5K. In the past year, I have watched Tara physically transform herself from an overweight woman into a smokin’ hot triathlete. I can’t even begin to say how honored I am to have Tara fill in for me while I’m away. 🙂

***

I carry around a small notepad with me wherever I go. It has several different functions: I use it to keep track of my calories and to write down ideas for future blog posts. Through out my day I will often hear things come out of people’s mouth and I immediately think “oh that’s going to make for a good blog post someday”

Today is one of those days. When Jeremy asked me to do a guest post for him while he’s off getting hitched (Congratulations!), I quickly perused my list and what did my little blogging mind come across?

Spouses and Weight Loss

The word “spouse” is loosely used for this particular post since not everyone reading this may be married. Think of it to mean as anyone in your life that you think needs to lose weight. We all have someone in our life that we wish would get on the same band wagon as us and make better choices with their food or move a little more. We start to get a taste for what it feels like to lose weight, take control and actually meet some goals and all we want is for the ones we love to get what we’re getting…

I’m here to put the brakes on your actions.

Nine months ago, my husband and I weighed a combined 600 pounds. Let me say that again: 600 POUNDS! I woke up one day in December and decided enough was enough for me. Not too much longer after losing my first 20 pounds I decided it was time for my husband to get on the band wagon…bad Tara bad. Why is that bad? He wasn’t ready and more often than not instead of making decisions based on what I needed I continued to make decisions based on what he wanted. I wanted to make better food choices. He wanted to eat out. Guess who won? I wanted to eat appropriate serving sizes. He wanted to go back for seconds and thirds. Guess who joined him on those helpings? I wanted to walk to the ice cream parlor for one scoop of pralines and cream. He wanted to go to food store and buy quarts of peppermint ice cream. Guess who drove?

I started to resent him. I started to blame him for my lack of determination. I blamed him for my inability to move more and eat less. I mean hello, we’re fat let’s get this party started and lose some damn weight. Then I realized something:

He wasn’t ready.

I was ready and I needed to stand up for myself and not let his decisions influence my decisions. I needed to understand that this was my journey and not our journey. I needed to let go of the resentment and move forward even if that meant leaving my husband sitting on the couch while I cried on the streets running the second week of the couch to 5k program (and all the subsequent weeks that followed).

I moved forward.

I lost the weight I needed to lose. I learned the skills I needed to learn to make healthy choices. I relied on my own determination to keep going. I got thinner, faster, fitter and stronger. My husband continued to sit on the couch and make excuses…

But not for long.

Fast forward to today and as I write this post, my husband is on the Wii* sweating like a man on a mission. We no longer weigh a combined 600 pounds. We’ve lost a small sized woman (about 130 pounds) and his food choices are nothing like what they were 9 months ago. He’s determined to move more and eat less. He’s determined to make healthier choices and he’s determined to move forward on this journey…

His Journey.

When we stop forcing others to behave like us and focus on making ourselves the top priority something magical happens: We become role models. We show those around us that change is possible, that change is good and that goals can be achieved. When we stop blaming others for what they aren’t doing and take the responsibility for what we are doing, we are showing the one’s we love that we’re important enough to ourselves to take control no matter the situation…

And that they are too.

* It took me over an hour to write this post and guess who is still on the Wii?

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Molly’s Guest Post: The Life Changing Journey

Molly from Fluffy Girl is one of my newer blog finds, and she’s an amazing person to follow. She’s already lost almost forty pounds, she’s already ran two 5Ks, (three by the time this is published), and she’s an inspiration. When I asked her to do a guest post for me, she initially wasn’t sure what she wanted to write about. I literally told her the sky was the limit, and I suggested writing about what led her onto this journey. Without further ado…

***

First off, let me thank Jeremy for letting me take over his blog for a bit. I have never done a guest post before, so this is new to me. I am still somewhat a “noob” at blogging. So, without further a due, here we go!

College! Woooohoooo! Parties. Drinking. No parents. New friends. Boys. Fresh start. Waking up at noon. No Friday classes. Freedom. Did I mention parties! I went off to college at a whopping 215 Lbs. I thought college was going to be a blast. Everyone LOVES college right? Wrong. Freshman year had to be the worst experience for me. 1- My roommate was disgusting (ended up moving out w/o her knowing) 2- home sick 3-ate horrible food/drank a lot 4-Gained weight. Second semester turned out better and then all of a sudden it’s the summer. Then it turned into sophomore year. Sophomore year I was 225 Lbs. I was still eating and drinking horrible food and beer (i.e. Keystone). I knew I should back down but it tasted so good. I knew I was out of shape because walking up a flight of stairs, I was literally panting and out of breath. Like I said, the food tasted better, plus I would have to walk to go to the gym. Too far. (Proceed to shove Toppers pizza in mouth)But, now I was on Accutane, a lot of emotional changes occurred. Then my grandma died. Then my back got f*cked up. Then I decided I was switching majors and coming back home to go to a local tech school. Then I had to tell the friends that I made that I was going to be leaving them. One big, ugly emotional roller coaster. I stepped on the scale one last time at college and it said 230. FML. I was at the lowest point in my life. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

If you looked at my family, all my siblings are good looking. All the girls would ask if my brother’s were models. All the guys asked if my sister had a boy friend. “Hey Molly, your sister is HOT!” What do I say to that? “uhh thanks?” I hated going shopping with my sister because she could go into any store and buy something in the xs section but at other times she had to *sigh* go into the small section. My arm couldn’t even fit into the small section. I had to pick and choose my stores and look to see if they had a XXL section. I got so frustrated I would leave the stores almost in tears. I remember looking at a picture right before I left college for good and my face looked bloated. I knew I had to make a change.

On December 19, 2009 I stepped on a scale at my YMCA and it said, 231Lbs. I looked up at the reflection in the mirror and knew I should NOT be 231Lbs. When people look at me, they see fat. What they didn’t know is who I really was, hiding in the fat suit. I played sports all my life and still do. I was a 3 time state qualifier in track and field (shot put and discus) and I have played basketball- elementary, middle, high school and AAU. I was the state free-throw champion of Wisconsin. I was named Most Valuable Senior female athlete in high school. I lifted competitively since 7th grade. Can you name another “fat” girl who can back squat 315 pounds?

But nobody would ever expect this overweight, 20 year old college girl was capable of so much and more. I remember looking back at myself in that mirror and saying, “I will NEVER be 231Lbs again”. From then on I dedicated myself to getting in better shape. Now, let me tell you- if you are one of those people who is like, “maybe I’ll try and start to lose weight today”, that attitude will not get you far in the weight loss world. You have to be committed 100%. You will have great days and you will have shitty days. You will have days where you think you got hit by a semi-truck and you will have days where you feel amazing. No matter what day you are having, keep on moving.

As of right now I am down 38 pounds. I fluctuate in the 190’s right now. Btw, seeing a 1 as the first number on the scale is such a good feeling! You may not think that is a lot, but it is enough to change me and my attitude towards life. I now fit into a size MEDIUM t-shirt. I have ran two 5k’s, my fastest 5k time is 28:01. Hell yeah! I am going to be running my third 5k on 10/10/10. I have dropped down from a size 19 pants to a size 14. I love going shopping and I am enjoying a lot more things in my life. I know its cliché but losing weight changes your life physically, mentally and emotionally. You can bet your sweet ass I still have shitty days and good days just like everyone else. I still struggle with food and working out. But this journey is something that I will be on the rest of my life. There is no secret to losing weight and becoming healthier. It’s a lifestyle that you have to want to live.

So for all of you who are reading this that are trying to decided if you want to start your life changing journey, what are you waiting for?

Just.Keep.Moving.
Molly Nitka aka Fluffygirl

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Erin’s Guest Post: Peach Crisp & Wedding Bells

Hey guys; at the time you are reading this, I am now a married man. Yay me! 🙂 And while I probably won’t get to look at this blog again until I return from our honeymoon in a week, I didn’t want it to be dead quiet around here, so I asked a few of my favorite bloggers to fill in for me. Erin’s blog is probably one of the very first weight loss blogs I started reading late last year. In the past year, she’s become a great friend, and I am honored to have her write here at Stellar Path.

***

First of all, I’d like to thank Jeremy for asking me to guest post while he’s away gettin’ hitched! I’m so honored Jeremy asked me to rob his blog for a day! I wish I could be there to celebrate with you & Tina!

From the bottom of my heart, MANY CONGRATULATIONS, Jeremy & Tina! May your marriage be ever-blessed. May the good times overpower the tough times. May you cherish the good times. May you have the strength and tenacity to endure the tough times. May your love for each other always grow and mature. In short, I’ll stop being a sap and say: I hope you’re ready. You’re gonna be stuck together for a long time! (I kid, I kid.) 🙂

Before I get to the sweet stuff this blog post is made of, I want to share the chorus from a song. I’m not a huge country fan, but every time I hear this song, I’m reminded of what love is all about…thanks to Lee Brice, I’m reminded to “LOVE LIKE CRAZY.” The chorus gets me every time; it’s such a powerful message:

Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I love you
Go to work, do your best, don’t outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin’ knees get lazy
And love like crazy

Can I get an Amen?! Love like crazy, you guys. Ok, the rest of you (haha). If you don’t know me or my blog, I’m Erin from Erin Takes Control (waves “hi”). Pull up a chair…that was the longest introduction I’ve ever produced, I’m sure…sorry about that. I’m a sap for weddings!!!

While Jeremy’s away, I’ve decided to share with you an incredibly easy and freakin’ delish peach crisp. It’s so simple; I can prepare all the ingredients, bake it, do the dishes and put them away within an hour. I know that Jeremy & Tina love to cook. I decided I would share my recipe with you in celebration of their marriage.

Erin’s Super-Quick Peach Crisp

• ½ cup old-fashioned oatmeal
• ½ cup packed brown sugar
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ¼ cup cold butter (unsalted or salted, either one works)
• Dash salt (if you use salted butter, this is optional)
• 5 cups diced fresh peaches

Place oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Use a whisk to combine. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. If you don’t have a butter-cutter (that’s a technical term) use the back of a fork. If you use a fork, the butter will need to soften (SLIGHTLY). I just micro for 10 seconds if I don’t want to dirty the butter-cutter, but don’t let it get too soft or you will ruin the crumble!!! Once the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, resist the urge to eat some of the mixture (it’s soooo good! Don’t ask me how I know that. Really. Don’t ask.).

Place peaches in a 9×9 glass baking dish (I used Pyrex) and spread them out into a single layer. If you have enough dices for more than one layer, make sure they are layered evenly. Top with crumble mixture and spread it around so it evenly tops the peaches.

Bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. The crisp is done when the already brown crumbs turn golden and begin to caramelize. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve with or without vanilla ice cream.

TA DA!!!!!!

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12-31-13 - 412.0
1-3-14 - 407.0 (-5.0 pounds total)