One year ago this week, we decided it was time to start a healthy living journey. We’d been living, um, large, and we realized that it was time to make a change for our overall health. After an ad for Noom scrolled across Ann’s Facebook feed, we did a little research and decided to give the app a try.  We hope you’ll understand that we are NOT trying to sell you Noom or convince you it’s the greatest diet in the world. We’re just sharing what’s worked for us over the past year, which you are free to take or leave. We know there are many others who struggle the way we did. It’s our hope that our story can be an encouragement.

It’s also worth noting that for the first nine months of our journey, we only focused on changes to our diet and behaviors to lose weight. It wasn’t until we visited the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in December of 2019 that we really began to add exercise into our routine. And you know what? That’s okay. For us, by focusing our efforts on one area at a time, (first diet, then adding exercise) we have enjoyed more success in our healthy living journey without feeling overwhelmed.

Needless to say, looking back over the year we’re thrilled with our results. We hope our success serves as an inspiration to others who struggle with weight and leading a healthy lifestyle. Not only have we lost weight, we’ve lost other things as well. And, we’ve gained some things, too, over the past year on our healthy living journey with Noom. We’ll each share our gains later in this article, but first, let’s look back at what we’ve lost …

Yes, we’ve lost weight

steveLet’s face it, losing weight was a cornerstone of our healthy living journey, right? As we write this, Ann is down 83 pounds since this time last year. I lost 67 pounds, hit my goal, and have been maintaining my weight for three months. Our combined weight loss is a nice, round (no pun intended) 150 pounds in just one year! We both dropped a lot of weight the first two months, but don’t think men always lose faster than women. Ann and I lost weight at about the same rate and she was actually the first one to cross the -60 pound mark. We both averaged about -1.6 pounds a week on Noom and Ann is still losing more weight.

postcard jar down 150 pounds

 

We lost our fear of the scale on our healthy living journey

annI almost quit using Noom on Day #1 when I read that I should plan to weigh myself every day for awhile. It went against everything I’d ever heard on other weight loss plans and I was skeptical. I hadn’t gotten on a scale in months and dreaded routine visits to my doctor because they always started with a stop on the scale. But I gritted my teeth and did it anyway. We got a new digital scale (below) that recorded our weight automatically each day in the Noom app and I forced myself to step on the scale every morning. Every. Single. Morning. 

Turns out, when you get on the scale every day, you lose your fear of it. In fact, I now look forward to stepping onto it every morning and we even take a scale with us when we travel. By checking my weight everyday, I see the constant ebbs and flows of numbers. I don’t freak out like I used to when I was up half a pound. I don’t feel defeated. Now, I remind myself that a weight gain is not a character flaw and I move on without fear. 

Our addiction to sugar was lost

annBefore starting Noom and our healthy living journey, I felt like I couldn’t live without sugar every day. Several times a day, actually. I’d start my day with sugary coffee creamers, crave something sweet every afternoon, and was rarely able (or willing) to resist cookies, candy, and desserts. What I’ve learned this year is that it is perfectly OK to have sweet treats, but I don’t NEED them three times a day. I’ll be honest, we’ve had ice cream (our favorite sweet treat) at least three times a week since we started our journey. But we’ve also cut way back on other sweet temptations and find it easier to resist them all the time because of the ways Noom taught us to train our mind. 

chocolate cake on celebrity edge

Noom taught us that it’s okay to feed our cravings (like ice cream) but to do so in moderation and make sure that we work it into our daily calorie budget. Noom also gave us mental exercises (like walking down the cookie aisle at the grocery store without buying anything) to teach our brains how to resist tempting foods. We bet you never thought the cookie aisle would be a part of a healthy living journey! 

Steve lost daily heartburn and indigestion 

steveHeartburn and indigestion had become a very normal and expected part of my life before Noom. Every night before bed, I made sure that I had my Tums antacids on my nightstand as I knew I’d probably need them sometime around 2 a.m. I love Indian tacos, for instance, but they don’t necessarily love me back. As I changed my diet and began to lose weight, I stopped needing them. Now, even when I eat spicy foods, I still don’t feel the burn. 

Postcard Jar at National Indian Taco Championship

Fear of going to a gym is another thing Ann lost

annThis one took me nine months, but my fear of exercising in front of other people is almost gone. I have to thank the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program staff who literally walked me into a gym, sat me down in a pilates studio, and showed me how to roll onto a yoga mat (you can laugh, I did). With their help, I learned how to start a treadmill and pair my Polar heart rate strap to it. They showed me all the settings and ways to increase my heart rate without going overboard.  I’ve also tried new things like yoga, pilates, resistance bands, and balance exercises on my healthy living journey.

yoga at Mayo Clinic

We lost respect for “fad” diets on our healthy living journey

steveI spent years looking for the magic bullet for weight loss. I researched the quickest, easiest ways to lose weight. Maybe if I cut out carbs. Maybe if I only ate meals made by a certain company. Maybe if I avoided fat. Maybe if I consumed only protein or only ate between the hours of 12 and 8, or drank a gallon of water, or… You’ve heard and seen advertisements for all of these fad diets. But it turns out, losing weight comes down to a simple concept: eat fewer calories. If I eat fewer calories than I burn, then I’ll lose weight. If I eat more calories, then I’ll gain. Easy, right? (It’s worth noting that fewer calories doesn’t mean less food. More on that below.)

breakfast options on the celebrity edge

If fad diets work for you, that’s fine. I just like wine and bacon and cake. Fad diets often restrict one or all of those–and I can’t live the rest of my life that way. Happily, with Noom and our new healthy living journey, I don’t have to. And now, on to what we’ve gained…

We gained control and the ability to prioritize

steveKnowledge is power, and through Noom I gained knowledge about the science and psychology of weight loss. Through short daily lessons I read on my phone, Noom showed me that my cravings and desires are normal. Everyone has them. More importantly, my healthy living journey with Noom taught me where they come from. I gained the ability to step back and look objectively at my feelings. Now I control my emotions regarding food and have broken the behavior chains that once controlled me. 

With that new-found control, we’re also able to prioritize our calorie budgets in ways that are satisfying and sustainable for life. For instance, we both like wine and ice cream. Sometimes, however, we have to budget our calories and pick one or the other instead of having both. We do the same with exercise now. If I want to have a big steak for dinner, I have to prioritize my day to include more exercise which gives me more calories to enjoy.


PIN FOR LATER

losing weight with noom


A willingness to experiment 

annOn our healthy living journey, I think we both gained an authentic willingness to experiment with new things. Both through the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and Noom, we learned how to experiment to find the right fit for us. Noom’s daily calorie/food budget allowed each of us to do things a little differently and experiment with foods we each liked best. Also, through experimentation, Ann learned she is a grazer and likes to eat small meals throughout the day. Steve learned that he’d rather save up his calories for a big dinner and a snack buffet in the evening. Neither of us is wrong.

We also have experimented with different kinds of physical activity to find out what we like and don’t like (read will stick with, won’t stick with). Steve is back to running and I’m enjoying walking outside while listening to music or a podcast. We both also like yoga and resistance training. Who knew?

We gained an understanding of calorie density

steveWe can’t, for the life of us, figure out how we went our whole lives without learning about calorie density before now. Seriously. It is the key to weight loss, yet no other program we’ve tried ever talked about it.

It’s a simple concept. Eat foods that will fill you up without giving you a ton of calories. For 45 calories, you can eat the peanuts or the grapes in the picture below. While both peanuts and grapes have good nutritional value, the grapes will leave you feeling more full and satisfied.

calories in peanuts vs. grapes

Also, it’s worth noting that foods should not be labeled “healthy” or “unhealthy.” Certainly, some foods have better nutritional value than others, but sometimes so-called “health foods” can be quite caloric. Avocados, for instance, contain good fats, but they are also loaded in calories – a half an avocado has about 160! We still eat avocados, but we pay attention to the portion size.

Since mastering calorie density, we haven’t felt like we’re starving. Indeed, our stomachs feel quite satisfied because we load up on low-calorie dense foods like oatmeal, broccoli, apples, brown rice, as well as lean meats and seafood. 

shrimp vindaloo and green beans

We’ve gained new cooking skills on our healthy living journey

annI’ve always loved to cook but have learned lots of new cooking skills and food combinations (I’m terrible at using recipes) on our journey. We honed several new skills during cooking classes at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. We learned how to dice a pepper with little mess and no waste and how to prep for four different meals at one time. 

I now work hard at planning ahead and doing meal prep when I have the extra time. I dice and cook fresh peppers and onions in bulk and then freeze them for later. It’s nice to just pull out small portions of these to use in scrambled eggs, taco salads, or pasta sauce later on. I’ve also made a variety low-calorie soups and in bulk and then freeze them in smaller portions. (Click [HERE] and [HERE] for a couple of our favorite recipes.)

We’ve gained a love of spicy/flavorful foods

steveObviously we love food, and our healthy living journey with Noom hasn’t changed that one bit. Instead, we’ve spent time learning more about the nutrition of the foods we eat and have changed our food choices. In the past, we used to get flavor into our foods through fats like butter and oil. The problem is that these have tons (and tons) of calories.

Chicken tortilla soup bowl

So, we had to find flavor from something other than fat. We began experimenting with lots of herbs, spices, and more flavorful foods. This kept our taste buds interested in the foods we ate without adding a bunch of calories we didn’t need. Some of our favorites include herbs like rosemary, basil, and thyme as well as spicier flavors that come from peppers like jalapeños and habañeros.

Appreciation of vegetables like cauliflower

annOne other thing we’ve gained on our healthy living journey is a new appreciation for vegetables like cauliflower. I hadn’t tried cauliflower in years decades because I didn’t think I ever liked it. While cruising this winter on the Celebrity Edge, I saw cauliflower on a roasted vegetable carving station and decided to give it a try (you can do that on a cruise buffet without guilt). Turns out, I love cauliflower and we eat it regularly now along with other roasted or grilled favorites like brussel sprouts, bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and acorn squash. 

roasted cauliflower and salad

One more thing we’ve gained

Another bright spot in our journey has been hearing from others who have struggled with weight and lifestyle changes like us. People ask us all of the time, “Has it been easy to lose weight and get healthier?” We always remind people that while every day has not been easy, it has also not been as difficult as we’d thought it would be. For us, it has been about setting some goals, giving ourselves grace, and prioritizing what’s most important.

Now, more than ever, our health is at the top of that list.


Note: If you are interested in trying the Noom app, you can click HERE or send us private message on any of our social media channels or email us at postcardjar@gmail.com. We’ll send you a link to a discount code for 20% off. While we are not an affiliate of Noom, like any other user who refers another person, we do receive a credit for each referral who continues past the free trial.

  • And, we have a baby bird! A cowbird, that is. ⁣
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We were so excited when we found eggs in the nest two house finches built in a fern on our front porch in Pawhuska, Okla. When we posted a picture of the nest last week, several readers pointed out that one of the eggs was not like the others - - it was a cowbird egg.⁣
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Cowbirds, it turns out, have kind of a bad reputation. It seems that they don’t build nests of their own. Instead, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and let the other birds raise their chicks. The cowbird chicks tend to develop faster than the other nestlings, and sometimes out compete them for food and resources. Because of this, there are those who give advice to remove the cowbird egg from the nest. ⁣
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According to an article we read on the Audubon Society’s website, though, there are several reasons to leave the cowbird egg in place: ⁣
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First, cowbirds are native to North America and have been here for millions of years and we are never going to teach them how and where to lay their eggs a different way. ⁣
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Second, cowbirds are, like all other songbirds, protected in the US. In short, it’s illegal to remove their eggs.⁣
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Third, cowbirds have been known to check the nests where they leave their eggs and will, occasionally, destroy nests from which their eggs have been taken. As a result, all of the resident chicks would be killed, as well, instead of one or two being outcompeted for resources. ⁣
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Because of these reasons, we decided to let the natural process play out in our fern. We’ll see what happens. But what we do know is that the cowbird hatched first...and that chick is hungry.
  • 🏡 We've had such a wonderful time at our Pawhuska, Okla., home. It felt so good to actually pack a suitcase again, even if we just went to our house there and stayed put. We walked together every day, drove through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and chatted with friends from a distance on our front porch. We took time to watch the sunset and see a mama house finch care for her babies in our hanging fern. We also explored a state park and found a waterfall. ⁣
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Most importantly, we got to see our daughter, Meghan. She is an ICU nurse in Tulsa and because of her potential exposure to coronavirus, we'd not spent any time together in months. But Ann found a way to create a safe (and decorative) outdoor space for all of us to visit, share a few meals, and just be in each others' presence. We can’t tell you what a comfort it was to see her again. ⁣
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In this time of sickness and uncertainty, it was nice to have a clean, safe place to get away. We are so thankful to have found this gem of a town, so many supportive and caring friends here,  and a second place to call home.
  • As we've been home since March 12, Steve has taken up bread making as a hobby. His sour dough starter is looking promising, but he also found the easiest four-ingredient artisan bread recipe that is so impressive. ⁣
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We've shared the results a few times on social media and many of you have asked for the recipe, so he wrote a blog post about it. We've included a link in our bio with step-by-step instructions on how to make it. ⁣
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If you bake this artisan bread, we'd love to hear about it (and see a photo). Just be sure to tag us @postcardjar. ⁣
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We love this bread plain, with olive oil and seasoning, as toast with almond or peanut butter, and grilled for bruschetta. If you use the #Noom app like us, it is about 100 calories a serving (12 servings in loaf).
  • As we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day, we hope you will join us in honoring others in a time of reflection, gratitude and respect. ⁣
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Both Steve's grandfathers and Ann's grandfathers all served in the military and fought in WWII. We took this photo a few years ago at Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City, Nebraska, where Ann's grandfather, Donald Shrewsbury, was laid to rest.
  • Today is the day! This afternoon our friends and fellow travel writers @lindseyranzau and @coleranzau are taking over our Instagram stories and we can’t wait for you to meet them.⁣
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⁣They are travel experts on everything Minnesota and will also be sharing some of their favorite Midwest destinations in honor of #NationalRoadTripDay! ⁣
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⁣Lindsey and Cole have traveled the world and love finding hidden gems and writing about them on their blog, Look About Lindsey (link in bio). You’re going to love their personalities as much as their incredible photography so be sure to watch our stories and say hello.⁣
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⁣And, to see our picks for best Midwest road trips, follow @lindseyranzau where we’ll be taking over her IG stories. It’s going to be a blast and we hope you’ll come along.
  • We are so excited to announce that Minneapolis-based travel writers Lindsey and Cole Ranzau of the blog Look About Lindsey will be taking over the Postcard Jar Instagram stories Friday, May 22! In celebration of National Road Trip Day, we are trading places (and IG stories!) to show each others' followers some of our favorite Midwest road trips and destinations. ⁣
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We encourage you to check out our stories tomorrow to meet Cole and Lindsey (they are so much fun) and follow @lindseyranzau where we'll be sharing some of our favorite Midwest travel experiences on their Instagram stories. When the time is right and you feel you can travel safely, we hope you'll consider a road trip in the Midwest. ⁣
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You can check out the Look About Lindsey blog at the link in our bio. ⁣
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@natdaycal @pilotflyingj
  • The @pwmercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, reopened today. We have talked to folks here who said employees have been working hard to clean and sanitize everything. On our walk today, we noticed that hand sanitizer that was readily available, tables were spaced out, and Merc employees were wearing face masks in accordance with CDC recommentations. We hope visitors to our little town will also do their part to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska