Monday, November 28, 2011

Carnival Liberty

The cruise was a lot of fun! We saw The Bahamas, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Turks and Caicos. It was nice to get away and relax for a week. It was only my second cruise, and I still can't believe how much they fed us! And the food is pretty decent too! Although, Scott and I definitely need to get back on our workout schedule ...

My favorite part of the cruise was St. Thomas, where our dear friends, Sharmane and Chris, got engaged! It was awesome, very beautiful and so fun to witness.

My favorite island was Turks and Caicos, I really want to go back there with Scott and stay for a while. It was absolutely gorgeous and relatively un-commercial. Overall, it was a great time!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Tomorrow night we are heading down to Miami to board the Carnival Liberty with 54 of our closest friends. We're so excited! I went on a short cruise many years ago and this will be Scott's first. We're visiting The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Grand Turk, and St. Thomas. Check out our ship here.

We are seriously pasty white since we haven't been in the sun since our honeymoon in Aruba. We're definitely piling on the sunscreen next week! Here are a couple of pictures from our trip:

At the restaurant we had to ourselves

Beautiful Aruban sunset

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


One of the best shots from Smith Family Images

Duck, NC

Love him!

These were just a few of my favorites - for more check out Facebook.

I've been married to the love of my life for almost five months and couldn't be happier!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

London Trip

Last week I visited my dear friend, Rachel, in London. It was a little spur of the moment - I bought the tickets less than three weeks before I left.

I discovered while I was there that St. Patrick's Day isn't a big deal to the British. We had to search to find a bar even remotely decorated in green. We settled in to a local pub near where Rachel lives and had a pint of Guinness ... and a burger! Apparently, Rachel said that Americans always order burgers - even when there is great local cuisine available. She let my burger slide that night since I'd had fish and chips the night before :-)

Rachel was a great tour guide. She taught me the bus routes and how to use their subway system, the Tube. Public transportation is fantastic over there. You really don't need to own a car. She took me on a tour of London ... we saw Big Ben, St. Paul's, and Harrods, among other sites. Harrods was amazing! I've never seen so many different types of products in one store. From designer gowns to Louboutons to gourmet chocolate and cheese to china to furniture ... It was truly breathtaking.

We also went to Kensington Palace and had lunch and tea at The Orangery. It's this great little restaurant overlooking the gardens. It looks like it used to be part of the palace grounds and the architecture is spectacular. And English tea and scones are heavenly. I'm scouring the internet for a good scone recipe.

Some of Rachel's friends invited us for an authentic Indian dinner on Friday night. Oh my goodness, it was amazing! I've never had Indian food that flavorful before. And we also had Indian desserts, which were really tasty.

My final day there we spent in Oxford. It was so beautiful! We climbed to the top of a local cathedral to get a view of the city, which was fantastic. We walked around the Oxford campus and along the river. We found a great antique jewelry shop where I bought the earrings I wear at my wedding.

On the way home, I was able to upgrade my coach ticket to business class for a substantial discount. So I flew business class for the first time in my life - it was awesome! The seats recline all the way into a bed and you get your own TV with on demand movies. Oh, and the food is actually good!

For more pictures, check out facebook.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Naturally Thin

I read this book and it completely changed the way I view dieting/fitness/food. It's a refreshing look at how to really enjoy food while still taking care of your body. I totally recommend it!

I'm down to 134.7 lbs :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quick Update

I had my bridal shower and bachelorette party this past weekend. My sister, Lori, and best friend, Anne, came in town for the festivities. It was a blast! We'll probably do another GNO at the beach closer to the big day.

Alas, I didn't take any pictures. Check my facebook page if you'd like to see some of the celebration.

I'm reading a book by Bethenny Frankel (of Real Housewives of NYC fame) called Naturally Thin. Wow! It's a great book and contains some great pointers for eating healthy and listening to your body.

I'm down to 136.0 lbs!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hierarchy of energy sources

My background, prior to the pacemaker world, is in Genetics. For those of you who don't know (because I didn't when I signed up to major in the subject at A&M), Genetics is not the study of rare, provocotive diseases. Well, you study them some times. The majority of my coursework was math, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, chemistry ... You get the idea. I spent many nights wondering what I got myself into and why I hadn't chosen an easier major.

Chemistry was never my subject. In fact, my first C ever was in my second semester of Organic Chemistry (evil class). However, biochemistry, while still difficult, was fascinating to me. It's probably the most self-centered characteristic to desire to learn exactly how processes work in the body because you want to know how your body operates. It's also the most rewarding, and I still draw on my biochemistry knowledge when interacting with my patients today.

One area I've always been drawn to (for obvious reasons) is the biochemistry of dieting and weight loss. When I was at A&M, the Adkins diet was all the rage. And then when I was in grad school, whole grains really started to gather steam as a healthy alternative to traditional pastas and breads.

I still have a lot to learn about how you burn calories when you work out. There seems to be a great deal of information about this subject, however, a lot of it is in disagreement. I can't seem to find a good source of information on the internet that says "this is how calories are burned, and this is the breakdown of those calories, and this is the graph of heart rate to calories...". I'm sure this information is available in text books, but come on. Who pays for information any more?

Last weekend they were having a sale on sport watches and telemetry bands at my gym so I bought one. It's pretty cool. It gives me my heart rate, and breakdown of time in each heart rate zone, calories burned, and the percentage of those calories that come from fat.

Interestingly, when I run or take a spinning class, my heart rate goes really high, >170 bpm. I've always thought this was a good thing - I'm not chronotropically incompetent. However, I noticed that after these workouts, my percentage of calories from fat is very low - 13-17%. I understand this is an estimate from a watch but I don't think it's too far off. On the other side, when I do low-impact work outs or circuit training, my heart rate only gets up to about 155 bpm, but my calories from fat percentage is much higher, 25-35%. This is because there is a hierarchy of energy sources in the human body.

The way your body uses fuel (carbs, fats, protein) is based on many different factors, such as gender, hormones, underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, etc. I'm just speaking in generalities today. Most humans burn energy in the following way - carbohydrates first, then fat, then protein.*

Using protein for fuel is a biochemically complicated and energy inefficient process. That's why you don't usually see people who are breaking down proteins in their bodies for energy unless they have severe illnesses such as anorexia.

Carbohydrates are the easiest for your body to break down and the go-to energy source for hard-core athletes. This is because you burn a TON of carbs when your heart rate is high and you're exerting yourself to the max.

Your body burns fat while you sleep, when you're going through your day, and when you work out. The way your body uses fat is interesting. It uses your fat stores and turns them first into sugar, and then into energy. Fat is a great energy source, providing 9 calories per gram. Carbs and protein provide 4 calories per gram.

Tired of the biochemistry yet?

The reason why all of this is important is that if you are trying to reduce your body fat, you can maximize your time at the gym by doing low-impact workouts that keep your heart rate in the fat-burning zone. And the great news? These workouts are perfect for beginners!

As for diet, eating a high protein, moderate carb, low-fat diet is going to maximize your weight loss. Why? Because your body won't use the protein you're ingesting. It will use the carbs you take in and the fat stores already there to provide energy to your body. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and fiber also contributes to weight loss by regulating your digestive system.

A bit verbose entry, I know. But it's essential to understand how your specific biochemistry functions to maximize your results.

Weight loss this week ... not so good. I'm at 138.1 lbs.

So, a gain of 0.1 lbs. Looking forward to next week.

*Disclaimer: I'm not a nutritionist, and I'm drawing on knowledge that is ~7 years old. Please forgive any inaccuracies.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Not the biggest loser

One of the frustrating things about dieting and getting fit is how people react when you talk about it. Believe it or not, I feel like it's easier for people who have 50 or more pounds to lose to gain support of people around them in their journey.

Whenever I bring up that I'm dieting for the wedding, or how I'd really like to slim down, people react in very interesting ways. They say, "You look great how you are!" or "Why are you worried about losing weight?" or "You shouldn't be so focused on 15 lbs." While I understand some of their sentiment is driven by wanting me to feel better (and I appreciate the thought) it really isn't what I'm looking for.

I'm not dieting to get more compliments. I'm doing this so that I maintain a healthy physique and develop habits that will take me into marriage and parenthood.

Look, I don't have some unrealistic goal weight in mind or some delusion that when I'm finished I'll look like Giselle Bundchen. I'd like to be around 120 lbs when I get married. I'm five feet four inches tall and that's a perfectly healthy weight for me to be.

Speaking of weight, I haven't lost any this week but I also didn't gain any. I'm still at 138.o.

I am so inspired to watch the shows about how people's lives change when they get in shape. What's even more inspiring is to see how they completely change their lives to keep the weight off. While my 15 to 20 lb weight loss will never win any reality show contests, I still feel like when I achieve my weight loss, I'll be my own biggest loser.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Week 2

Oh the ups and downs. I had to go to Dallas for work this past weekend. I sell pacemakers and ICDs (internal cardioverter-defibrillator) and once a year we have a sales meeting at one of our regional offices. About 1200 sales reps from all over the country descended on the Sheraton hotel to talk shop and hear about what new products are coming down the pipeline.

If you've ever traveled on business, you understand how hard it is to stick to routine, especially a new one you're trying to implement. My company feeds us well at these meetings and it's hard to walk away from such good fare. I didn't exercise at all while I was away, and I felt the ramifications of that decision Monday morning.

I weighed 139.6 lbs.

Are you kidding me?!

0.1 lbs?!?!

What a bummer.

My exercise routine was great last week. My diet (while I did stay within my points) could have been better.

I had an epiphany when I was in Dallas. I realized that when I eat poorly, it negates all the hard work I do at the gym. I knew that before, but I really felt it last weekend.

I've heard figures like losing weight is 60% diet and 40% exercise; for me, I feel it's more like 80% diet and 20% exercise. I actually lose more weight faster when I don't work out and just watch my diet.

Regardless, I resumed my routine yesterday with circuit training. Well, this morning I weighed myself and...

138.o lbs?!

I know that weight fluctuates every day due to hormones, muscle repair, and hydration. At this point, I don't care. I'll take what I can get!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This past weekend we (Scott and his parents, Paul and Roslyn) went down to Duck, NC to meet with some wedding vendors.. We were fortunate enough to stay with the mayor of Duck and get his advice on how to work out the logistics of how our day will flow. For the most part, it was a successful trip. We're still working out how to shuttle everyone to the ceremony and reception site (there isn't parking at either venue) and who will DJ our wedding. Everything else is pretty much falling into place.

One of the things we've been working on for the past couple of months is getting in shape for the big day. We joined a gym in August and started working out with personal trainers. I even started taking spinning classes (I'm learning to love them!). Scott has done great - I think he's lost about ten pounds and he looks great! It's inspiring to me to watch him dedicate himself to improving his health.

My weight loss has been harder and very much a yo-yo. I started at 140 lbs (gasp!) and I'd really like to be down to 120 by the wedding. It's frustrating because I feel that I've been working out like crazy but it's not really showing on the scale. I totally get the whole "muscle weighs more than fat" thing but it's very disheartening to workout so hard not feel any different.

This year contains so many milestones for me, I'm turning 30, getting married, changing my name ... I just want to look and feel my best when each of those things occur.

My high school weight was 117. I have to say that I'm in better health now than I was then, but I think I have an emotional attachment to that number. When I'm around 120, I feel confident, outgoing, pretty, healthy, adventurous... and it's been too long since I've felt that way.

I was reading today about how recording everything you eat and your activity keeps you accountable and helps you have more success in weight loss. Well, I've been doing that with Weight Watchers online, but there are times when I fail to record because I know seeing everything I eat is going to be painful.

A while back, I used this blog to record a bit of my weight loss journey but I stopped when life got busy. I'd like to renew that commitment now so that I have the accountability of my readers and a place to vent about the process (I think Scott might be getting a bit sick of it).

I'm committing to posting my thoughts on this journey, pictures, and my progress up to and after the wedding.

January 18th. Day 1. 139.7 lbs.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our House

The front yard

About a month ago we closed on our first house together. It's a 3 bedroom/2 1/2 bath split level/rambler style house built in 1955. I moved in on December 5th and Scott will move in after we get married in June. It's a whole new world for us to own property. It's wonderful, but gone are the days of maintenance men and landlords. So far, we've been fortunate to not have any major problems arise, but there are so many things that you have to do when you move into a new house. We got the fireplace re-mortared and sealed, cut down trees, and installed an invisible fence for Diego. It's really starting to feel like "our" place. I'm sure it will feel even better when Scott is here with me. Enjoy the pictures :-)

Basement media room

Our master bedroom (still need to buy furniture)

Dining area

Love my new washer and dryer!

Looking at the house from the back yard

Enormous couch in the media room

Kitchen (granite and stainless steel, yes!)

Master closet - too small :-/

Back yard from the house, our lot is 0.46 acre, large for Northern VA

Living room

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Countdown continues...

Less than 5 months until I'm Mrs. Cress!