July 2014 archive

Weigh-in Wednesday

So close.

I was THIIIIIIIISSSSS close to the 220’s.

Instead of celebrating an epic breakthrough, I let a few bad decisions get the best of me and saw a gain this week.

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But that’s ok!  Normally I would be pretty bummed about it, but not this week.  Cliff and I have decided to do another 30 days of no restaurants (I actually like this challenge, it saves us a ton of money AND we lose weight!)  Not only are we doing the challenge, but I’m going to be making a big change in my exercise routine.

Tomorrow, I will be a happy member of the YMCA.  Me and two other (fantastic!) women that I work with are going to be going on our lunch breaks through the week.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to have some exercise buddies (that live in Louisville).  Cliff and I go to the gym together, but we have two totally different routines.  Also, he has no interest in classes, swimming, or an indoor track.  I, on the other hand, am overjoyed at the thought of all those things.

I also decided to sign up for my first Mud Run and 10K!

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I feel confident that shaking things up a bit is exactly what I need to break through this plateau I’ve been having.  I would love to be under 200 pounds when Cliff and I leave for Florida at Christmas.  In order to achieve that, I need to lose an average of 1.5 pounds per week for the next 22 weeks.  I KNOW I’m capable of that loss if I can just focus.

Luckily, Cliff is still on top of his game and has been a great motivator.  It seems like each time one of us has a weak moment, the other one kind of picks up the slack for a bit.  It’s been an amazing experience to share and I can’t imagine traveling down this road alone.

I finally know the #1 secret to surviving weight loss.

I’m going to be rich.

Ahem…

I mean, I’m going to share it with you (at no charge).

Do your absolute best to surround yourself with supportive and loving people.  These people don’t just have to be spouses, family members, and close friends.  They could be co-workers, Facebook support groups, or just some random person from the internet writing about her own problems with weight loss.  If they help you, encourage you, and stand behind you – embrace them.  These people will become the foundation for everything that you accomplish.  They will pick you up when you fall down (sometimes literally), they will reassure you when you want to give up, and they will make you feel beautiful on days that you just want to crawl in a hole and hide.

I (we) could have never gotten this far without those people.  I wouldn’t trade my circle of peeps for anyone in the world.

And that’s why I know I’ll get through this.

Because they won’t let me give up.

 

Travel Tip Tuesday – Loyalty Programs

Today’s Travel Tip Tuesday is really more of an explanation than a tip.   Today I’m going to cover one of my favorite travel perks, Loyalty Points.

I’m pretty sure that everyone knows where I stand on the accommodation front, but in case you’re new or have heard it so many times that you tuned me out years ago, I am a certified Marriott geek.

The only time I’ve stayed in anything other than a Marriott family hotel in the past five years is if there isn’t one within a 30 miles radius.

Yes, Red River Gorge, I’m looking at you.

The best part about Marriott?

Our hotel rooms don’t cost us a dime (most of the time).  This is because we’ve been Marriott members for years and stay exclusively with the chain.  Initially we were only part of the free points program, but then we got a Marriott credit card through our bank and really started using it to our advantage.  Even though we get a ton of points every month for using our credit card (and then paying it off, of course!) we still score lots of points for promotions and what few paid stays that we do have.  With that being said, even the most casual of traveler can benefit from joining a loyalty program.  Below are some tips for making any of the programs work in your favor.

Keep it in the Family

These days, most people book the cheapest hotel they see on a third party app.  While that might work in a pinch, I feel like I save more (overall) by always traveling in the same group of hotels.  Not only do I earn points towards free nights (or tons of other stuff, depending on the program) but I’m also more likely to be upgraded.  When we took our trip down the southern coast last year, our final stop was Pompano Beach, FL.  I booked a regular room at the Residence Inn right on the beach.  We showed up a little after midnight and I happened to mention to the attendant that it was my husband’s 30th birthday and they upgraded us (at no charge) to a two bedroom, two bath suite facing the ocean.

On Memorial Day weekend.

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Travel during promotional times

During the same trip last year, Marriott had a promotion where we earned 5,000 bonus points after two paid stays plus double points (up to 10,000 points).  So we paid for two nights in Savannah, got the bonus points plus the 7,200 points for the money we spent, and had enough points for a free night to use in the future.  I’ve noticed that Marriott seems to offer better promos closer to holidays.   For instance the current promo they’re running is double points on your second paid stay (up to 25,000 points).  Obviously that’s a better deal if you’re staying in an elite property (Gaylord Opryland, for example) than something like a Courtyard, but points never expire so take what you can get!

Know (and understand) Membership Levels

Even though Marriott is rated the #1 loyalty program it is also rated the worst as far as the ease of earning points. Do not let this fact deter you!  The upper tiers are the hardest to reach; however, that’s geared more towards business travelers rather than someone that only takes one or two trips each year.

Marriott has four tiers of members (not counting the Ritz Carlton level – I mean…come on.  Is that really a thing?  A Ritz-Carlton Level?).  There is Basic, Silver Elite, Gold Elite, and Platinum Elite.  For the purpose of this post I’m only going to cover Basic and Silver Elite, which is where most casual travelers fall.

Basic Members:

  • No blackout dates
  • PointSavers™ (uses less points to book rooms during certain times of the year)
  • Promotion Central (like the one mentioned above)
  • Your preferences remembered (this is actually really neat – I ALWAYS have extra towels in my room)
  • Dedicated Customer Service line
  • Member Exclusive Offers
  • RewardsPlus: (20% discount on converting points to miles)
  • Earn points or airline miles
  • 5th redemption night free
  • Hotel rate discounts and partner offers (Hertz, specifically!)
  • Up to 10 Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at participating properties (free nights start at 7,500 points)

 Stay 10 nights and get bumped up to Silver Elite:

  • All of the basic perks
  • Ultimate Reservation Guarantee (if Marriott is unable to honor your reservation for whatever reason, they will cover your stay at another hotel AND refund your money)
  • 20% bonus on base points
  • Priority late checkout (this is pretty great to have after a late night at a concert!)
  • 10% discount on weekend rates to all Courtyard (my favorite location!)

So, as you can see, there is much more to belonging to a rewards program than just earning points for a free night here and there.  Not only are you privy to all these great perks, you’re also treated much differently (in my experience).   We have never had an issue since we’ve been members.  Whether it’s an early check-in, storing our luggage, or needing assistance getting around the entire city (thank you Michigan Avenue Courtyard concierge!) our needs and wants are always handled promptly and with a smile.

On a fun side note, Marriott recently released their PlusPoints (Beta) program that lets you earn even more points when you use social media to share your Marriott experience or like/tweet certain Marriott properties.  These points aren’t available at all Marriott locations, but you can find the complete list here and the breakdown of the points earned are below.  I’m really interested in seeing how this takes off.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

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*(In full disclosure, I was not paid by Marriott, nor am I an affiliate of the brand.  I just thoroughly enjoy their chain and have no problem recommending it to others.)

An Amazing Night on Boat McGoat

Saturday night was definitely a top 10 memory night.

And for the record, Boat McGoat is officially the best boat name in the history of boat names.

Cliff and I were lucky enough to be invited to spend a glorious night on the river directly behind the main stage at Forecastle (I could have hit Jack White with a rock…if I didn’t throw like a girl).  Neither of us had ever been on a sailboat before, so excited doesn’t even begin to cover it.  We had wanted to go on a catamaran on our last cruise, but we were over the weight limit at the time.

Not anymore!

I’m fairly certain that there aren’t enough words in the English language to accurately portray what an awesome time we had.  The company was outstanding, the weather was perfect, and the night was truly one that we will always remember.  We’re very lucky to have such terrific friends.

Here are just a couple of snapshots of our fearless leaders.  I’m determined to be as confident as Kim one day.  She hopped on and off the dock like she was born on a ship.

(I don’t fully trust my new found balance, so I stepped as carefully as possible at all times).

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The evening was a little gloomy, but the sunset was awesome.

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So, speaking of Kim’s confidence, that reminds me of the mushy post I mentioned Friday.

It’s too late for too much mush, so I’ll just give you the condensed version.

I’m stoked about the newfound confidence that has come with our weight loss.  The confidence that I’m talking about has nothing to do with looks, it has to do with feeling too fat to do anything.  I’ve always felt like I, literally, didn’t fit in anywhere.

For example, as recently as a year ago, I would have turned down last night’s invitation.

A million thoughts raced through my mind on the way to the river.  How many people are going to be there? Will there be enough room for everyone?  But most importantly…Will I tip the boat over?

Yes, I’m serious.

Self-conscious is just a teensy, tiny bit of an understatement.

I’ve spent the majority of my life analyzing every situation and experience in correlation to my size.  “Will I fit between those chairs?”  “Will I fit IN that chair?” “Can I get into the backseat of that car?”  The list goes on and on.

Most of the time that answer was no and, rather than face the possibility of embarrassment, I chose to miss out on (what could have been) some awesome memories.

It’s just been in the past week or so that I’ve realized that those fears are starting to get weaker and weaker.  I first noticed it when Cliff and I went to the concert last weekend.  Normally I would have been horribly nervous about walking around in front of thousands of people (let alone in just a t-shirt, capris, and no makeup).  This time, I didn’t feel like that at all.

Then last week I went for a run and had my first hecklers follow me through our neighborhood.  A year ago I would have never ran again.  I would have been completely humiliated and defeated.

Instead I just laughed.  Sure, poke fun at the “fatty” running down the street.  That’s cool.  Why should I let that upset me?  You can fix “fat” but that kind of a person will (most likely) always be a douche.

But last night was just the icing on the cake.

I’m unbelievably happy that I set my fears aside and stepped on that boat.

And, for the record, it did not sink.  It barely even moved.  I could have done a happy dance, but I’m not THAT confident yet.

I will NEVER let my size dictate my life again.  From now on it’s amazing memories (like this one) only.

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