About Me/FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are you?

My name is Tamara and I'm a 30 year old broad living in Colorado, committed to living a healthy, fit lifestyle. I have a fiancé named Doug, a beagle named Randal and awesome taste in most facets of pop culture. That's about all I feel like sharing for now :) Top

What is the purpose of this blog?

The purpose is to share what I eat and do for exercise on a semi-regular basis. I lost 90 pounds between May 2007 and September 2009 and always tracked my food and activity along the way. I feel it's important to keep that habit going, as I head into weight maintenance.

I also like sharing my food and exercise habits with others so they can use such information and apply it to their own healthy pursuits. Top

Where did you come up with the title, "The Stretch Jean Incident"?

The title refers to the day I finally realized I NEEDED to lose weight; I was putting on a pair of size 20 Old Navy stretch jeans and they felt tight. It finally became apparent to me in that moment that I had to take my health seriously and make a commitment to losing the extra weight, no matter how long it took. Top

How much weight have you lost?

I reached my 90 pound goal in late September of 2009. My highest weight was 248 pounds in May 2007 (I'm about 5' 7"). You can read more and see before/after pictures in my goal post. Top

How did you gain weight?

I started putting on extra weight as young as age 8 or 9. As I got older, the weight kept packing on, due mostly to poor eating habits. I was active as a young child, but became increasingly sedantary as I entered my teen years.

As a young adult, I tried all sorts of fad diets and of course failed to lose and keep off any weight. Finally, at the age of 24 in May of 2007, I took my doctor's advice and joined Weight Watchers to lose the weight and keep it off. Best decision I ever made. Top

Do you have a history of eating disorders?

Yes. Growing up, I always seemed to overeat a little bit at each meal, but during various points throughout middle school, high school and college, I would binge eat, purge by way of laxatives, starve myself and/or over-exercise. If I wasn't engaging in these behaviors, I was on a fad diet of some sort, constantly losing and regaining the same weight over and over again.

In November 2009, shortly after reaching my goal weight, my binge eating returned with a vengeance. Unfortunately, this caused me to gain back some of the weight and threw me back into the dark cycle of overeating, purging, over-exercising and restricting.

As of February 2010, I am in recovery and trying to lose the weight I gained while also repairing my relationship with food. You will notice that I stopped posting weigh-ins around this time as well. Part of my recovery includes detaching myself from as many numbers as possible (weight, calories, WW points, etc.), so that explains the change in content/format on my blog.

You can read more about my eating disorder experience here and here. Top

I noticed you've started taking pictures of your food. Are you becoming a food blogger?

Not really. I started taking pictures of my food as part of my recovery from binge eating and repairing my relationship with food. You can read a bit more about why I started taking pictures here.

As you can tell from the quality of my pictures, I am no where near becoming a food blogger, professional or amateur :) The pictures are simply a new, therapeutic way of interpreting what I eat and holding myself accountable as I try to lose some of the weight I regained. Top

Are you a personal trainer?

I am not currently a certified fitness professional, but as of February 2011, I'm studying to become an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer. I hope to be certified by Fall or Winter 2011 and plan on obtaining  my Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant certification as well. I look forward to having a career that helps people realize their potential and improve their health! Top

What diet plan did you follow to lose the weight?

I don't follow a 'diet' so much as I follow a healthy lifestyle (clichéd response, I know). But if it helps, I followed the Weight Watchers Flex Points system to lose the majority of my weight. I do not have a current WW subscription, nor do I follow their latest Momentum Points Plus plan. I briefly had an online WW subscription between 2007-2008, so that's where I learned about the points system.

Since I didn't have access to the WW online food tracker, I used The Daily Plate to track my food for free. I tracked my WW points values both on this blog and on a spreadsheet I made.

UPDATE: As of February 2010,  I am no longer using the WW points system or The Daily Plate. I'm working on food & hunger awareness (think Intuitive Eating) and decided to take a break from counting points and calories for sanity reasons. While I support the counting of points and/or calories in order to lose weight, I also feel it's important to not rely on those methods for life. After working through my own food and weight issues for several years, I'm starting to see the importance (and happiness!) in making health-conscious choices on my own, without necessarily following a specific plan or extreme food/exercise rules.  Top

Will you teach me how to do the Weight Watchers plan?

No. Although I can no longer afford a WW subscription for myself, I'm still a firm believer that you should join and follow WW on your own, until you've learned the in's and out's of the plan. The program works when followed correctly, versus trying to do a half-assed version based on the experiences of others. (Sorry for the bluntness, but I've come across a lot of people who try to do this. Not only is it annoying to paying members, it's ineffective when trying to reach and maintain your weight-loss goals.) Top

How many calories do you eat in a day?

I eat anywhere between 1400 and 1800 calories a day. I tend to eat more on the days I engage in high-intensity workouts, where I tend to burn 300-500 calories per session. When I'm done trying to lose weight and just maintaining, I imagine my daily calorie intake will fall somewhere between 1800 and 2000. Top

How did you start exercising?

I started out with some basic routines. I bought a stationary bike to use at home and began riding for 30-40 minutes a day. I also started using the Biggest Loser Volume 1 DVD, as well as a couple of Tae-Bo DVDs. Eventually, I signed up for a gym membership, where I would use the elliptical, treadmill and weight machines for 30 minutes to an hour.

As I started to lose more weight and became more fit, I started jogging (which led to running) and tried all of the DVDs by Jillian Michaels. She's tough, but she knows how to get you sweating.

These days, I focus on high-intensity cardio intervals at the gym (running, incline training, rowing, stair master, elliptical), weight training and occasionally, yoga.

I also recently became a HUGE fan of Jari Love. I was hooked after trying her Extremely Ripped! 1000 DVD and plan on getting more.

For posts in which I talk about fitness DVDs, feel free to browse my DVD posts. Top

When do you work out and how often?

Although I enjoy sleeping in as much as the next person, I'm one of those crazy people who wakes up around 5 am to get my workout done before I have to be at work by 8. I used to work out in the evenings, but it became increasingly hard to motivate myself to go to the gym after a long day at work (I work the typical 8-5 desk job, Monday thru Friday).

Getting up early every morning to exercise is tough, but having my evenings free is definitely worth it. Plus, I usually feel more energized the rest of my day when I get my workout done first thing.

As I try to lose weight, I'm working out 5-6 days/week. Once I'm maintaining, I plan on moving it down to 3-4 days/week. Top

What kind of tips do you have for staying motivated and reaching my weight goal?

-Be completely honest with yourself, 100% of the time. Write down your goals and write down how your weight is holding you back now. Keep that list around for when you need a reminder about why it's so important to be healthy.

-Learn how to cook. Seriously. You don't have to be the Next Iron Chef, but go to the library, browse the Internet and watch cooking shows to learn some basics. The majority of what you eat should be whole, natural foods and finding different ways to prepare them will keep you motivated (and satisfied!) in the long run.

-STOP MAKING EXCUSES! It's ok to have a bad day and not eat 100% healthy or make it to the gym, but creating excuses for this type of behavior can turn a bad day into a bad week, month, year, etc. Trust me- I'm speaking from first hand experience on this one!

-If you slip-up, take responsibility for your actions, nix the guilt and get back on track immediately.

-Plan your indulgences ahead of time. So many people think you have to quit burgers and ice cream forever and live off of carrot sticks to lose weight. WRONG! Plan for a nice treat every once in a while (something you really, REALLY want). Watch the portion size and if necessary, extend your workout or shave some calories off of other meals to compensate.

-Forget the "all or nothing" approach. Look for healthier alternatives of your favorite foods, instead of depriving yourself completely. Trying new recipes is a great way to keep you excited about eating healthy over a longer period of time. You'll discover new foods that you love and will come to appreciate tasty, healthy meals cooked at home over dining out at unhealthy restaurants or living off of pre-packaged/highly processed crap. Not sure where to start? Check out Eat Better America and  The Biggest Loser Cookbook; both are terrific sources for healthier breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and desserts!

-When it comes to changing your eating habits, you don't necessarily need to follow a specific plan (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, South Beach, etc.) in order to be successful. What's important is that your method of eating can be sustained over a lifetime. It MUST be balanced (i.e., no elimination of a certain food group), yet flexible. You're bound to encounter numerous events (be they social, family or work-related) where the focus is on food. Live and enjoy it! Just take the time to stop and think about how to make best choices. Try to avoid feeling guilty or punishing yourself later.

-If you feel like ditching a workout or eating poorly, ALWAYS ask yourself: "How is this decision going to help me reach my goal?" There's a right answer and a wrong answer and it's up to you to decide which is which.

-Be selfish. It's easy to get wrapped up in taking care of everyone else except yourself. Put your foot down and make time to workout and plan/prepare healthy meals & snacks. It's ok (and kinda required) to put yourself first when trying to improve your health. Remember that this journey is much, much more than just fitting into a certain size of pants or showing off your abs at the beach; it's also about increasing your number of years on earth, disease prevention and improving your quality of life.

-Do your research before dining out. Everyone deserves a break from cooking at home every once in a while, so before heading out, check to see if the restaurant has a website with their menu options posted (bonus points if they list nutritional info!). This is something I practice every chance I get and it makes a world of difference. Don't be afraid to ask for substitutions, either (e.g., grilled instead of fried, dressing on the side, sauteed in broth instead of oil, etc.). And knowing that most restaurant portions are 2-3 times more than they should be, remember that sharing or getting a to-go box is always an option.

-Be open about your goal (if you feel comfortable doing so). Yes, most people don't want to admit to others that they're trying to lose weight, but it really does make a difference. Be upfront with friends and family members. You may get the support you need, and you may not. Be prepared for people not taking you seriously (especially if this is your 100th attempt at losing weight), but don't let the lack of external support discourage you.

Although support from others is important during a weight-loss effort, you HAVE to develop the ability to rely on yourself. At the end of the day, it's YOU who's choosing to eat healthier and get fit. No one else can make these decisions for you.

-Stop starting sentences with "I can't," "I don't," or "I wish." You can, you do and you will, as long as you make your health a priority.

-BE PATIENT. This is critical to reach and maintain success. Losing weight takes time. Some weeks you'll lose three pounds, zero pounds and some weeks, you'll gain. Don't get fed up and throw in the towel right away! You didn't gain all of that excess weight in less than a month, so you can't expect to lose it all in that amount of time either. Try not to get hung up on weekly weigh-ins and remember to look at the bigger picture; you're on a lifelong journey to achieve and sustain better health. As long as your efforts are genuine and consistent, you WILL feel success over time.

-Recognize and embrace the importance of physical fitness. Yes, it's possible to lose weight just by changing your eating habits, but the benefits of exercise are immeasurable. Not only does it speed up your weight-loss efforts, but it also:

*Makes you stronger
*Adds years to your life
*Lowers the risk of numerous diseases
*Reduces and sometimes reverses current health conditions (Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.)
*Relieves stress
*Improves sleep
*Alleviates depression & anxiety
*Increases your energy levels
*Builds/maintains muscle & bone density (your future 80 year old self will thank you!)
*Relieves cramps/bloating that result from menstruation
*Can be fun
*Improves self-confidence and self-esteem.

-Review your progress often. It's easy to fall into a routine of bettering yourself and forgetting how far you've come. Keeping food and exercise journals is a great way to see how much progress you've made since day one. Don't ever belittle your achievments; we're not all nutritionists, chefs or marathon runners. And that's okay! Take pride in your efforts.

-Don't compare yourself to others. Just don't. Ever. Period.   Top

Can I contact you if I have more questions?

Sure! You can e-mail me at: stretchjean[at]gmail[dot]com. You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Top

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