Sparkly & Slimming….a Weight Loss Blog

Samantha's journey to slim down, while remaining sparkly!

2013 Elf 4 Health Challenge & a New Diet Twist….

Last year I had SO much fun participating in the Elf 4 Health challenge hosted by The Lean Green Bean and Nutrionella that I just had to sign up again this year.  All the challenge details (and the sign up!) can be found here: Elf4Health. Basically you complete one healthy challenge each day (be in physical, emotional, self etc.) and chat with an elf buddy randomly assigned to you about your challenge and staying on track during the holidays.

This years challenges are realllly going to take me out of my comfort zone (burpees!? wall sits? meditation? – eeeep!).  I’m nervously excited. Is that a thing? Nervously excited? LOL – well it is now! Behold – the challenges!

I just completed our pantry purge last weekend and I don’t want to brag, but it looks fantastic and is MUCH easier to find things! For Dec 7th I’ll be tackling the spice cabinet – which is a hot mess. I am pretty positive we have at least 4 poultry seasonings and probably another 4 cloves – two things I never think we have and always buy. Haha.


Foolishly I forgot to look at this week’s challenges and I already have lunch packed for Monday- Wednesday (chicken pot pie soup FOR THE WIN)….sooo I’ll be meatless for every other meal – and on Friday. 🙂

I got my first email from my elf – she’s really sweet and I’m excited to motivate each other for the week! Shout out to Natalie!


Oh, I forgot to mention my new diet. Dietary restriction? Meh – the new way I’m eating! I’ve had a problem for a while with retaining water (especially in my feet and legs). A few weeks ago I weighed in at 7am and again at 10pm – I had gained 12 pounds. Yes, I’m dead serious. I scheduled time to see my doctor – but she’s so busy she couldn’t see me until the first week of December. I chatted with my Mom and she mentioned salt – and tracking my sodium intake. Two weeks ago on Saturday and Sunday I tracked everything I ate in LoseIt – -then calculated the sodium – I was at 3500 mg / 4600 mg respectively. I picked up “The Salt Solution” from Amazon and learned I was eating nearly triple the sodium I should aim for (1500mg). Eeep! So, I took action last week (even during the two days I had the flu!) and following the following guidelines:

*No more canned/premade soups – (my favorite is the Autumn Squash soup at Panera and it has a whopping 1400mg per CUP! Yeah no!).

*Swap out morning drink for grapefruit juice (a natural diuretic which helps with fluid retention)**

*Trade chicken broth for the low sodium variety (a difference of 500 mg per cup!)

*Up my fiber (helps with food digestion – and feeling full)

*Amp up the spices (in lieu of salt try to include things like sage, rosemary, chives etc.) – I also need to check out Mrs. Dash (which is sodium free).

*Drink more water! (but I seriously always need the reminder).

These are the food guidelines I am following to see what kind of sodium content foods have compared to each other.

One week in and I’m significantly better – my feet and legs aren’t swollen, I feel 1000X better energy wise AND I’m only 1-2 pounds heavier by 10pm after a day on my feet. Awesome!  Thanks Mom – just goes to show your Mom really does have all the answers! 😉

**Sidenote: by far this is my favorite grapefruit juice EVER:

Ingredients: grapefruit + water. The end! I also love their Simply Orange with Mango – delicious. 🙂

Happy short-work-week everyone!!


Foodie PenPal Reveal!!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was doing the Foodie PenPals program hosted by The Lean Green Bean. Well I am super excited to finally announce my cool loot! 🙂

So the premise is you get paired up with a stranger and send them $15 of cool treats (maybe local to your region, maybe something you’re addicted to – whatever!). I heard about it from Jess, who’s bloggy friends with Lindsay. Man this whole blogging sphere is so small and cool!

I sent treats to Nicolle over at Culture Jaunt – check her blog to see what I sent. She had a requirement for healthy items that were free of processed stuff and HFCS. Really made me think!

My PenPal was Erika from “You Just Did What“. Super thoughtful, sweet gal from Cali who sent me some KICKASS stuff! Check it!:


My box contained:

*Ginger Pear White Tea (which I am totally using to make iced tea during this scorching weekend!)

*Cherry Cashew Pure bar (which is in my bag ready for my after barre treat on Sunday!)

*Peanut Butter + Dark Chocolate Kind bar (SO DELICIOUS!)

*Trader Joe’s Chocolate Almond spread (think Nutella only better. OMG LOVE!)

*Last but SO not least, Fresh roasted blueberry banana granola from a bakery near her house. This was the piece de resistance. I am savoring a 1/3 of a cup EVERY MORNING with yogurt. Mmmmm SO GOOD. Literally addicted).

The program is so much fun I am absolutely doing it next month! Wanna join me? Sign up by July 4th here!







June Challenges!

June is going to be a month of trying new things ~ and pushing myself further out of my comfort zone.

I am super excited for my first mini-challenge of the month! I started to follow The Lean Green because of Jess (EatDrinkBreatheSweat) and I am totally in love with her blog! She mentioned this Foodie PenPal challenge in a recent post  and I decided to sign up. Such a cool idea! This time around there are 982 penpals in the US and Canada – can you imagine?!!? Lindsay – you rock!

My penpal emailed me yesterday (Erika from You Just Did What?) – so excited to see what she comes up with – and to have another blog to follow! 🙂

I just heard from my pal – her name is Nicolle and her little piece of the interwebz can be found here: Culture Jaunt. Her request is simple – nothing processed.  What would you send someone (keeping in mind possible dietary restrictions like gluten-free or vegan) for $15?! Such a fun game!!

For the next part of June challenge ~ I need to find a way to kick up my cardio. I’m in a complete rut – and the stairs icon on my Fitbit is sad. So – time for some new goals!

During this week I am committing to doing an hour of cardio at the gym 4X a week and mixing it up. 20 mins tread, 20 mins elliptical, 20 mins bike. I might throw in some stair stepper if I’m feeling crazy. I want to work up to getting outside this summer and doing some hilly walks / stairs. I figure I better start training for that now!

As I continue on my weight-loss journey I find tweaks to what works for me. In April/May I did the barre n9ne Skinny Jeans challenge – 2 barre classes a week + 10,000 steps per day + specific calorie goal. I was eating a LOT when the challenge began. Halfway through I changed my number and had to budget better for my calorie allotment. Now I am signed up for the 60-day Challenge – 4 classes per week, 10,000 steps per day plus a new, lower calorie goal. I am really having to work to make this work. I can’t just grab a granola bar without considering if I want to waste 250 calories or invest them somewhere else. I don’t automatically grab chips with my sandwich (and if I do I might consider not eating them and saving them for another day). I guess that’s all part of the process – adjusting as you go, tweaking where necessary and changing things when you get stuck in a rut.

I’m also mixing up my classes this time around. Last time I stuck to strictly barre method (the signature class with weights + barre work), barre fusion (mat-based similar to Pilates) and barre fusion (half mat, half barre, no weights). This time I am signed up for a bunch of “toned, fit, firm and ready” (TFFR for short) – by far one of the hardest, most fast-paced classes I’ve ever taken – it’s a little bit of everything! I’m also adding in a long lean legs class (from the website: Lose those extra inches in your thighs and get lean legs all by taking this class! How could you not after working your legs (and butt) for an hour! This class is for all levels, and does not included barre work.). Sounds killer huh? I’m working up to taking the barre n9ne cardio class – it’s a lot of jumping and this fat butt does not jump – yet. Someday I will!

So in my first 60 days I lost 15.5 inches overall and truly gained a handle on my insane habits. I had no idea how dependent I had become on snacks/desserts until I was forced to cut them out in favor of better choices. It’s funny how quickly you see the err in your ways when you track everything you eat rather than just mentally try to keep track!

What are you going to do to challenge yourself this month?



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