#ZachAndWhitneyRecommends

If you’ve followed us on social media for awhile, you may remember seeing us post recommendations on certain items each week (mostly health-food related.)

We’ve decided to bring that back with #ZachAndWhitneyRecommends! 

Each week we’ll be recommending something related to health & wellness, fitness, and weight loss. Along with our recommendations, we’ll be providing a review of each item we’re recommending that week. Keep in mind — this will no longer be limited to just food. You can expect a variety of items – from kitchen accessories to workout equipment – if we use it and find it beneficial in our journey to becoming healthier humans, there’s a very good chance it will be featured in this blog.

Without further ado, here is our very first recommendation for  #ZachAndWhitneyRecommends!

It’s “The Pioneer Woman Vintage Speckle 10-Piece Non-Stick Pre-Seasoned Cookware Set” as featured on www.walmart.com.

We bought this set of pots and pans from Walmart on January 2nd of this year. We had been wanting to buy them ever since we saw them on display a few weeks before Thanksgiving of 2015. For nearly the last five months, we’ve used the pots and pans on average three times per week. None of the lids, pots, or pans themselves have broken, or chipped. There are only minor scratches on the side of the large skillet and a bit of discoloration due to our oven/grill and our terrible dishwasher (that we’re secretly wishing would break soon in hopes that our landlord would replace it with a shiny new one. Dream big, right? Anyway.. back to the pots and pans.)

We’ve had some “interesting” luck when it comes to buying sets of cookware. Since starting our weight loss journey last March, we’ve been cooking at home much more and have become way more invested in what we’re using to cook with versus when we rarely ate at home.

Here are five reasons why we recommend Ree Drummond’s (AKA: The Pioneer Woman) non-stick pre-seasoned cookware set:

#1. They’re pretty.

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Okay, that’s probably not a real reason. But the color is what drew our attention to this set, so we’re using it as one!

#2. They last.

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Although we’ve only had this set for a little less than five months, we can say from previous experiences that they last longer than similar non-stick cookware sets being sold today.

#3. They’re affordable. You may remember we mentioned we bought this set from Walmart (although I’m sure other stores would have offered to price match) and we paid $99. This exact set in Turquoise is still listed here for $99.
Our set (and the one referenced on www.walmart.com) includes the following:

  • 8″ pre-seasoned cast iron frying pan
  • 9.5″ frying pan
  • 1.1 qt saucepan with lid
  • 2.5 qt saucepan with lid
  • 5.5 qt Dutch oven with lid
  • 4.2 qt jumbo cooker with lid
  • Material: aluminum
  • 10-piece preseasoned kitchen cookware set is dishwasher safe
  • Vintage speckle cookware set is oven safe
  • Available in: red, linen, black and turquoise
  • Wood and Nylon Utensil Safe Only

#4. They cook food evenly. We know this probably sounds strange, but for those of you who’ve had the displeasure of cutting into a piece of chicken that’s raw on one side of the pan, while the piece on the other side is nearly burnt – you’ll probably understand why this is a big deal.

. . .and last but not least.

#5. They’re SUPER easy to wash. Weirdly enough, this is the exact reason why we were inspired to recommend this set of cookware. We’ve both spent a lot of  time washing dishes over the years but these pots, pans, and lids are the EASIEST  dishes in our (sometimes overflowing) sink of dishes to clean. For example: if you make chili on Tuesday night and “accidentally forget” to wash the pot until you get home from work on Wednesday night (admit it, we’ve all been there), all you’ll need to do to was the pot clean is run some hot water in it, let it soak for around thirty-seconds to a minute, lightly scrub it with a sponge and WA-LAH! Clean as a whistle! So easy you’ll never have dirty dishes again! (Okay, so maybe that was just a fantasy of ours but PLEASE JUST LET US DREAM!)

pw

Photo Credit: The Pioneer Woman

We’ll be back next week with another installment of #ZachAndWhitneyRecommends!

Until then, follow us on our social media sites by clicking the links below!

Facebook: Zach and Whitney Duden – ‘Like’ our page!

Instagram: @zachwhitneyduden

Twitter: @zachandwhitney

New Year, New Goals

2015 has been quite a year. It has been a year filled with a ton of accomplishments and lots of firsts. On March 1st my wife Whitney and I decided to make a complete lifestyle change. We both started a weight loss journey that has evolved into much more than we could ever have imagined. Our goals when we started out were very basic; to lose weight and feel better. Both of which we have accomplished. Throughout the year and throughout our individual weight loss journeys, we both set more specific goals for ourselves. Mine were focused mainly on weight loss and on being more active.

In my blog “Is This Worth It?” I go into detail about my weight loss journey and some of the things I’ve accomplished this year. I also talked about some of the things I’ve struggled with while trying to lose weight, being more active, all while dealing with the roller coaster of ups and downs during everyday life.

Since it’s already December 20th, (seriously, where has this month gone??) I wanted to sit down and write a blog to share with you some of my health and fitness related goals for 2016.

  1. Always stay positive
    • Some of you may be wondering – how does this relate to health and fitness? In my eyes, to continue to grow as a person and create the life I’ve always wanted, I must always focus on the positives. Yes, I will have bad days. Everyone does. But something I need to work on is allowing myself to acknowledge the good with the bad, and even though there was a bad moment in a day, it doesn’t necessarily mean the entire day was bad. Therefore, not allowing myself to eat bad or skip going to the gym because of it.
  2. Be more active
    • Set a regular gym schedule and stick to it. Do more things outside – even if it’s cold out. Volunteer more to stay active. One of the things that really helped me shed the pounds when I first started out was having a regular gym schedule and it’s something I want to focus on more and get back into.
  3. Stop eating fast food
    • Obviously this is something a lot of people struggle with. In my case, the last three months have been the worst. I know it’s not necessarily feasible to say that I will cut fast food out of my life completely, but I do want to make a solid effort to try and eat out less. My goal is to also make healthier choices when going to fast food restaurants and I’m using this article from MyFitnessPal to research places before hand.
  4. Log every single thing I eat, every single day on MyFitnessPal, and be completely honest with myself
    • I’ve slacked off the last few months on MyFitnessPal and haven’t been logging my meals consistently – or at all. I cannot tell you how much logging my meals has helped me to understand how much I was eating, how healthy (or unhealthy) it is, and how much I could still eat or how much I needed to exercise in relations to my calorie goal. If you are here from MyFitnessPal, I’m sure you’ll understand the importance of logging every single thing you eat. If you happened to find this article somewhere else on the internet and are not an active user of MyFitnessPal, I strongly encourage you to download the app on your phone or use their website http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ for calorie counting and exercise tracking.
  5. Set attainable weekly and monthly goals
    • I believe it is very important to consistently challenge yourself to do better. It’s also very important to set goals that aren’t too easy, or too hard. I will be posting each week on MyFitnessPal (add me as a friend here: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/zachduden) and on my Facebook page (“LIKE” Zach and Whitney Duden here: https://www.facebook.com/zachdudensmajesticlife) discussing my goals and asking what other people are setting as theirs. Each month I plan on making a monthly update video with my wife on my YouTube channel (check out our previous videos and subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/user/theezachduden) to keep the momentum going!
  6. Try at least one new recipe each week
    • When I get tired of eating the same things week in and week out I start to fall off track. Next year I want to make it a point to focus on trying more vegetables that I never used to eat (or have never eaten) and incorporate them into new recipes each week. Oh, and by the way… if you haven’t already heard, my wife Whitney will be releasing something SUPER EXCITING around the first of the year, so make sure to follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date!!
  7. Stop stress eating and snacking
    • This was one of my weekly goals a lot in 2015, so for next year I’m making it into a yearly, monthly, and weekly goal for myself. To avoid stress eating and snacking in 2016 I plan on taking a walk every time I “think” I’m hungry when I’m actually just worried/stressed about something.
  8. Try things outside my comfort zone
    • When I get complacent with exercising and stop challenging myself, I start to lose focus. This year I challenged myself to go to the gym. In 2016, I want to challenge myself to keep going to the gym, set a schedule/be consistent, and do different exercises involving strength training and HIIT.
  9. Start and complete at least four different 30-day challenges
    • Doing a 30-day challenge was one of the “firsts” I mentioned from 2015, and it didn’t really go as planned – for many reasons. I learned a lot from my experience with that 30-day challenge and will apply it to the ones I do in 2016. I’ll definitely keep you all in the loop when I’m doing one and what it is!
  10. Continue to share my experiences
    • When I started my weight loss journey on MyFitnessPal, I only had one friend and it was my wife Whitney. I didn’t find out for a few months after using the app that MyFitnessPal has a community section for people to make new fitness friends. This is one of the best parts about MyFitnessPal. Having people to encourage and motivate you during your weight loss journey is extremely important. Having people to support you when you feel yourself falling off track is very important too. Words cannot express how thankful I am to those who have been a part of my weight loss journey from day one and continue to support and motivate me each and every day. Today is my 291st day on MyFitnessPal and I still see comments from people that were there with me on day 50. The reason I decided to start sharing my experiences with losing weight was because I know a lot of people who have gone through it or are going through it themselves. I want people to know what it’s like. Not just the good parts, but everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I want people to know that losing weight is not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. I also want to tell people that it’s the best decision they could ever make for themselves.

 

I can’t wait to start 2016 and I’m so excited to share my progress with you all. Again, thank you for all of your support now and always.

 

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

(Little Gidding)”

T.S. Eliot

 

Have a great year everyone! And remember, keep doing great things!

 

Let’s be friends!

“LIKE” Zach and Whitney Duden on Facebook!

@ZachDuden on MyFitnessPal

@IAmLivingForGood on Instagram

@LivingForGood on Twitter

Have a Fitbit? Add me! //www.fitbit.com/user/3TBL4K

Your Weight Loss Journey And Why You Should Keep Going

We all have bad days. We ask ourselves why we even bother doing this. Sometimes, we feel like giving up. Sometimes, we fall off track.  Here are five reasons to hopefully inspire and motivate you to keep going and to become the best you possible. Remember that you’re not alone on this journey.

  1. You’ll feel better.
    • I started my weight loss journey at 300 pounds. I was completely out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs, and I knew I needed to do something about it. According to this article on WebMD’s website, “Working out can lower blood pressure by as much as five to seven points. And you can see these results just one month after boosting your activity.” Lowering your blood pressure = less pressure on your heart. So basically, being overweight means that your heart is working harder than it should. Losing weight can positively impact your health TREMENDOUSLY. Take it from me. I went from losing my breath after walking up a flight of stairs, to now being able to run a few miles on the treadmill at the gym.
  2. You’ll notice a difference in the way you look and you’ll feel EXTREMELY proud of your efforts.
    • me
    • Enough said.
  3. You’ll start fitting in to old clothes that you’ve had hidden at the back of your closet.
    • Remember that pair of jeans that you stopped wearing because they were starting to fit a little too snug? Time to pull those babies out and bask in the glory of being able to pull them on, button that button, and stretch them from your waist. After losing even 10 pounds, you’ll start to notice things fitting a little more loosely and you’ll LOVE IT.
  4. People will notice a difference in you.
    • No, you shouldn’t care what other people think of how you look. And no you shouldn’t lose weight just for people to compliment you. But I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect me. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to have someone you barely even know, come up to you and tell you how much healthier you look and ask how much weight you’ve lost. Those kinds of compliments stick with you and they’re what helps me to keep going when I’ve had a bad day. But remember: do it for yourself, not for others.
  5. You’ll inspire people to start their own weight loss journey.
    • When I started my weight loss journey, I had no idea how far I would go. At first, I didn’t set any goals for myself. I was determined to lose weight and to start feeling better, but nothing really beyond that. 6 months later, I have lost track of the amount of people that have told me they have started their own weight loss journey after seeing some of my progress. I don’t want this to come off as though I’m tooting my own horn or that I’m the reason people decided to lose weight. That’s not it at all. People have to make their own decision to lose weight – I can’t do it for them. But what I can do, and what I have done, is show people what losing weight is really like. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve posted pictures showing the effects weight loss has had on my body, and I’ve shared numerous posts about how much better I feel. I’ve also written blogs about falling off track and how hard it is to keep going. I want people to see the real side of weight loss. Not something that will make it sound easy and fast. Because it’s not. But it is worth it. I may have inspired people to take the first step in their weight loss journey, but it’s all of you – the people reading this blog, watching my videos, and interacting with me through social media – you’re the ones who inspire me each and every day.

Follow me:

Twitter: @LivingForGood
Instagram: @IAMLivingForGood
Facebook: Zach and Whitney Duden 
MyFitnessPal: @ZachDuden
YouTube: youtube.com/theezachduden

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DEAR BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (RE: DEAR FAT PEOPLE) // Zach Duden

Tearing someone down or ridiculing a person because of their weight – while talking about how disgusting a person is and how someone’s weight “affects your life” – does not make you “real” or “funny” or “satirical”. What it does make you is cruel, insensitive, and unintelligent. If saying these types of things makes you feel proud of yourself, I really hope for your sake you take a few minutes, hours, days, weeks – even years – to reevaluate your life and figure out what it takes to be a decent human being.

“Before you post a video on the Internet telling people that they’re fat, overweight, and disgusting, please understand that it hurts people’s feelings, and it also makes you look like an idiot.”

This video was a long time coming, but due to a recent viral video, I finally decided it was finally time to sit down in front of the camera and talk about body shaming.

Is This Worth It?

My mind is a collection of unfinished thoughts. (I feel like that’s a quote I just stole from someone but I’m not exactly sure who.) I want say so many things but they just aren’t coming out the way I had intended them to. I need to write this because of all of the things I’m feeling but I’m not sure how to convey the words I want to say. What I want to say is different than what my fingers will allow me to type.

Losing weight is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise either hasn’t experienced being significantly overweight or “obese” or wants to sugar coat it. I’m not going to sugar coat this for you (I’m also not going to tell you that you’re lazy for being overweight or repulsive and disgusting). What I’m going to tell you is this: losing weight is not a ‘fad’. It is not something someone simply does overnight. It is not easy. Losing weight is in no way “simple”. But is it worth it?

I was walking around the mall the other day shopping and I happened to notice myself in a mirror. I looked at myself thinking, “You really don’t look that much different than you did nearly 70 pounds ago.” When I look at my before picture from five months ago when I started living this healthier lifestyle and compare it with my present picture, I do notice a difference in the way I look. My face is slimmer, my stomach is smaller, and, (strangely enough) I look like I’m starting to stand up straighter. But when I was standing there, looking at my reflection in the mirror, I couldn’t help but still see the “old” me standing there. I wanted to scream, run as fast as possible from my reflection, break the mirror, but worst of all — I wanted to give up.

Some of you reading this may not know me personally, so let me give you a little background on me and my life.

I’m 25 years old. I’ve always been overweight. I don’t remember a time in my life when my weight was considered “normal” for my age and body type. I’ve lead a pretty inactive lifestyle compared to others. Granted, when I was younger I played at recess and did pretty much all of the things other kids my age were doing. I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time outside. I even played football for two weeks when I was in seventh grade. (My helmet didn’t fit, I sweat in places I didn’t know I could sweat in. Ugh. Worst two weeks EVER.) In middle school/high school the only real “physical” activity I participated in (other than the required physical education classes) was marching band. Aside from that, I ate anything and everything I wanted. I never thought about the consequences of it because, well, I didn’t really care. I was drinking 6-8 cans of soda every day, eating out for basically every meal, and sometimes having a rib eye steak for both lunch and dinner. My life was a #mess. Skip forward to March of this year.

My wife Whitney and I joined a gym in March and made it our mission to start living healthier. We set out on this mission without any real goals, other than to feel better. The first couple of weeks were rough for me. Going from drinking a can of soda in the morning, afternoon, night, and several times in-between, was rather difficult. It’s not that I hate water – I just prefer soda. However, I was determined to change my habits and soda was the first to go. After two weeks I was down an astonishing 15lbs. I was thrilled! I was eating around 1800-1600 calories per day and I was actually feeling full. I was taking my lunch to work (two turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread with light mayo, apple slices, grapes, and unsweetened organic applesauce) and I was saving a ton of money during the week because of it. Whenever anyone says that eating healthier costs a ton, I want to tell them how much money they’ll save if they stop spending money on random things they’re buying when they go out to eat out, or when they go to get coffee. Buying a large caramel macchiato with a double shot of espresso and adding a piece of lemon cake that you didn’t even plan on getting can certainly add up. Believe me, I was doing that almost daily! (Side note: I still enjoy a sugar-free skinny iced mocha latte every now and then and it’s WAY less calories.) Yes, buying healthier food to eat at home may cost a little more at the grocery store but eating out all the time hurts your bank account just as much – if not worse.

It was finally the end of March and it was officially time to find out if all of my hard work had paid off. Again, I had no intention of losing a large amount of weight in a short amount of time, but I was excited to see what kind of progress I had made. I stepped on the scale. I was 30 pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of the month. But you know what felt even better than seeing that number? Being able to fit into clothes I had hidden at the way back of my closet that I refused to get rid of (hidden as if they were taunting me when they were visible). 30 pounds down and I had never felt better!

April and May proved to be extremely successful months for me as well. I lost another 20 pounds in April and 15 more pounds in May. Altogether I was down an astounding 65 pounds! I was (and still am) so proud of myself. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would lose 65 pounds in only 3 months. I was on a path to healthier living, I was feeling great, and I even had some new clothes to show off at work.

Then came June.

June is typically one of those months that is packed to the brim with things that are happening. This year was no exception. I was out of town nearly every weekend during June, so trying to stay on track with eating healthy and exercising regularly was difficult. June was also the first month I allowed myself to miss a day tracking my meals on MyFitnessPal. I did manage to lose a small amount of weight, but it was nothing compared to previous months. My birthday is in June, as well as my anniversary, so I decided to allow myself a few meals that I knew weren’t the healthiest and I would just write them off as “gifts” to myself. I was becoming frustrated that I wasn’t losing as much weight and it began to affect my attitude towards living healthier. In all of the months before, I had not allowed myself to cheat (except for maybe one or two times) and all I wanted was pizza, candy, and bacon cheeseburgers. I would go a few days tracking my meals on MyFitnessPal and patting myself on the back for how well I did, but began missing more and more. A week ago I realized I was falling off track and it worried me.

When I was at the mall last weekend, I tried on a shirt from PacSun that was a size XL that actually fit. I don’t remember EVER fitting into their clothes. I have to say, a lot of things motivate me to lose weight and live healthier, but being able to fit into ‘regular’ sized clothing is one of my main motivators. I left PacSun without buying the shirt and headed to Hollister. I tried on a size XL in both their regular t-shirt and button down collar shirt. Neither fit very well. I could barely button the collar shirt and the t-shirt was still a bit too snug. Unfortunately, this is something I’ve become very used to, so I returned the shirts to their place in the store and left feeling disappointed.

When I look back at how much I’ve accomplished,

  • Losing 65 pounds
  • Not drinking a regular soda in 5 months
  • Running a mile
  • Running two miles
  • Going to the gym more than 1 day a week
  • Going from a size 42 jeans to a (comfortable) size 36
  • Going for a walk before, during, and after work
  • Eating vegetables I’ve never tried before
  • Receiving tons of compliments on how much better I look
  • Inspiring others to start living healthier

I can’t help but to smile.

I’m so damn proud of myself and all that I have accomplished. I absolutely refuse to give up on myself and go back to how I was living before. I can do this and I WILL do this. If you’re reading this and you’ve also been considering making a change to healthier living, just know that you can too.

When I started this weight loss/healthier lifestyle journey I knew it would be difficult. I had heard countless stories about people who have tried to lose weight, have been successful, and for whatever reason, went back to their old ways. I cannot not… no, no… I WILL NOT be that person. I have too much I want to do in my life to let something like my weight continue holding me back.

When you hear people talk about the struggles of losing weight and getting into shape, you’ll probably hear things like “Running is terrible!” or “Going to the gym is so exhausting” and even, “Eating less food and counting calories is just the worst.” But what you might not hear about is the most difficult battle you will face, and it’s with yourself. Trying to overcome cravings, getting yourself up off the couch and outside for a walk. Telling yourself you don’t look any better even though you’ve lost 65 pounds. Asking yourself “Why does it matter if I lose a bunch of weight anyway? I’ll never look like those models in magazines or celebrities on T.V.”

Cut back to me at the mall looking at my reflection in the mirror and thinking “You really don’t look that much different than you did nearly 70 pounds ago.” Remember how I told you I wanted to run, break the glass, and scream? I did none of those things.

What I did do was think to myself “DAMN you look good!” and smile.

So I ask again – is losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle worth it?

You bet your skinnier ass it is!

Thank you again to all of you who have supported me during this journey. I could not have done it without your words of motivation and inspiration and I definitely would not be where I am today. You’re all the best!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Goals and Rewards!

Working towards a goal can be difficult at times – especially when it comes to weight loss. There are many things that can set you back and ultimately put you right back to where you were – or even leave you worse off. This is one of the reasons why many of us (including myself) like to set goals for ourselves. Setting goals can be a motivator for many. For some, having a reward – something like a new pair of jeans or a new shirt – helps keep us motivated and determined to reach our goals. Losing those next 10 pounds can be ever-so-slightly easier when you know there’s something waiting for you after you reach your goal.

I’ve compiled a list for today’s #TopTenTuesday and would like to share these ideas with you as possible rewards for yourself. If you have any other suggestions, please leave your comments below for others to see!

  1. New clothes. (This is by far the most popular reward people choose for themselves – especially in the case of hitting your targeted weight loss goal.)
    • clothing
  2. A new tattoo. (One of my personal favorites and will also be my reward to myself after losing 100lbs!)
    • tattoo
  3. New workout/fitness equipment. (Because what could possibly be a better reward to give yourself than one that will help you reach all of your other goals?!)
    • new workout equipment
  4. Jewelry. (I’m going to group watches in with this one. I think it would be an excellent reward for those who don’t wear much jewelry but can appreciate a nice watch!)
    • jewelry
  5. New shoes. (Yes, I’m grouping this separately from clothes and workout/fitness equipment because shoes can be kind of expensive and are, therefore, a reward category of their own.)
    • new shoes
  6. A massage. (I’ve never personally had a massage but apparently people really like them?)
    • massage
  7. Being physically and emotionally healthy. (This one may not seem like much – but it’s free and also happens to be one of the best feelings in the world.)
    • healthy
  8. Techy-fitness-gadgets. (IE. Apple Watch, Fitbit, Misfit, etc.)
    • apple-watch-sport
  9. Party/alcohol. (For those of you who are over 21 and like to parrr-tay. In moderation, of course.)
    • party
  10. The goal is the reward. (For those who feel they have already rewarded themselves by hitting their goals.)
    • goal

Hopefully you can incorporate one or two of these ideas when choosing what to reward yourself with!

A special thank-you to all of MyFitnessFriends on MyFitnessPal for your comments today!

Have a great night everyone! Let’s meet back here tomorrow for #WeighInWednesday!

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Follow us!!

Twitter: @LivingForGood
Instagram: @IAMLivingForGood
Facebook: Zach and Whitney Duden 
MyFitnessPal: @ZachDuden @WhitneyDuden

Wednesday Weigh-In – What Made You Start?

Today on MyFitnessPal, I asked MyFitnessFriends this question:

MFP

I received numerous responses from people commenting on how they used to perceive themselves writing things like “I just felt unhappy with myself. So I decided I had to do something to change that” and “I want to look in the mirror and like what I see, not be ashamed and hate what I am. I want to be healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”

A few people left comments mentioning family members that they’ve lost, while others spoke to their own health concerns and how they hope to prevent any worsening conditions by choosing to live a healthier lifestyle.

While reading through all of the comments, I noticed somewhat of a theme; many people acknowledged there was an issue with their current weight or lifestyle – then decided for themselves to make a change, set personal goals, and had the determination to work towards those goals to live a healthier life.

For those of you that don’t know, I’m currently 24 years old. I’ve never considered myself “skinny” or “healthy” so I can definitely say I relate to many of these comments. Four months ago, before I decided to start my journey to becoming a healthier me, I was always tired and found myself feeling very depressed. But instead of acknowledging that it was because of my weight and lifestyle choices, I managed to place the blame on everything else. I always had the intention of losing weight to look better, but I never considered the advantages of losing weight to feel better. Now that I’m over 3-months into my journey, I can honestly tell you that I’ve never felt better. It’s almost as if I’m experiencing things for the first time – all over again. I find satisfaction from feeling sore after going to the gym, along with feeling excited about going outside and being active with friends and family. I have so much appreciation for being able to climb a flight of stairs without having to stop to catch my breath, and being able to fit in to clothes that are 3-4 sizes smaller than what I was wearing.  I cannot tell you how GREAT it feels to go to a restaurant and be able to fit into the booth instead of having to ask to be sat at a table.

For the first time in my life, I’m genuinely proud of what I’ve achieved and who I am becoming.

I know I’m always talking about my love for MyFitnessPal, and hopefully this gives you a small glimpse as to why. It’s such a great place to speak freely with others about the ups and downs/challenges and achievements of working towards living a healthier life.

I truly appreciate all of you who took the time to leave a comment today telling me why you decided to change your lifestyle and start your journey to becoming a healthier human. I think you’re awesome, and just know that you’re doing great things. Seriously – you all inspire me each and every day, and I cannot thank you enough.

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Follow us!!

Twitter: @LivingForGood
Instagram: @IAMLivingForGood
Facebook: Zach and Whitney Duden 
MyFitnessPal: @ZachDuden @WhitneyDuden

The Power Of Social Media

WARNING: MUSHY POST AHEAD!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few months it’s this: Never underestimate the power of social media. I feel the need to remind you all time and again that when you say things like “Congratulations on your weight loss!” or “Great job Zach!” or even just something as simple as liking one of my updates (I promise this isn’t just a scam to get you to like/comment on my stuff!) it means everything to me! There aren’t a lot of people in my ‘real life’ that I talk to about my “Journey To Becoming A Healthier Me” and by being able to share my story with others on MyFitnessPal and other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I have the opportunity to connect with other real people like yourselves who might be going through the same struggles as I am – and who are also accomplishing such amazing things!  If anyone were to ask me now, three months into my journey, “What is your key to success?” my first and only answer would be all of you – MyFitnessFriends – and of course, MyFitnessPal. So just know that those kind, wonderful, amazing things you say don’t go unnoticed. And neither do your updates and accomplishments! I feel like I can’t say thank-you enough so I needed to sit down tonight and type this out for all – or even just a few of you – to read. You’re awesome!

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(P.S. – there’s a reason why I say this all the time. It’s because we are all in this together, and together we can do great things!)

Follow us!!

Twitter: @LivingForGood
Instagram: @IAMLivingForGood
Facebook: Zach and Whitney Duden 
MyFitnessPal: @ZachDuden @WhitneyDuden

Getting Started

One of the main questions we get asked when people find out about our goal of healthier living is ‘what are you doing’ and ‘how do I get started.’ So we’ve decided to do a blog post for people who are trying to begin to live a healthier lifestyle. The important thing to this is that there is no magic solution. If you are looking for a one step process or a quick fix to help you lose weight fast, then turn around now. I’m not selling a product or promoting anything other than a free app. It requires hard work, determination, and a lot of self-control.

  • This first tip is the most important. You have to know that you are committed to eating better and living a healthier lifestyle. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone refers to what we are doing as a diet. While that is not technically incorrect, we don’t see it as a diet. For us, it’s a lifestyle change. We don’t plan on losing a bunch of weight then going back to our previous lifestyle. We are in this for long haul and want to continue to be a healthier versions of ourselves. The reason this is so important is because a majority of people who have lost weight gain it all back in 3 years, plus some. Make a commitment to yourself to live a healthier lifestyle for the long haul and not just during the summer months or a week after Christmas when you might have had too many cookies!🙂
  • We’ve said it before and we’ll continue to say this! MY FITNESS PAL. Download it now! It’s free and it gives you a calorie goal to lose up to 2 pounds a week, tracks your calories, exercise, syncs up with the apple health app, Fitbits, and Pacer and similar apps, and lets you network with a bunch of people who are also trying to be health conscious. It’s a great tool that provides a supportive community and some great blog posts containing exercise moves and recipes. This is the number one thing that has worked for us. I’ve never understood calories and felt lost until I found MyFitnessPal a few years ago. It just makes things so much easier. It also teaches you portion control which really helps as well! Also, one good way to adjust to calorie counting is to log a normal day of eating for the first few days so you know how many calories you are consuming. If you’ve never calorie counted before, you might be amazed! There is a lot of things that still surprise us with the calorie content. After the first couple of days of your current eating habits, adjust down to 2,000 calories. Then 1,600. Then 1,400. Then 1,200. (MyFitnessPal will help you calorie goal when you put how many pounds you want to lose a week and how active you are. This could vary for many people. Some may not need to go as low as 1,200).
  • This will make you penny pinchers cringe, but I think it’s kind of a crucial step. Go through your cupboards and fridge. Donate anything unhealthy to your neighbors, friends, food banks, etc. When we did this, we got rid of all the pop in our house, chips, sweets, etc. It’s not that you can’t eat these things, because the trick is portion control, not what you eat. We are very frequently asked what we are eating and the answer is simple: everything! But we’ve found that having less unhealthy food keeps us from overeating or eating calorie dense foods. Also, I find that the first 2 weeks or so are the hardest because you are still really craving the way you used to eat, so it helped not having the unhealthy stuff around.
  • Get some good tennis shoes! You can definitely see results when you change your eating habits, but the thing that has helped us is being consciously more active. We got gym memberships and tend to take walks over our breaks at work or when we get home from work. We’ve both had desk jobs for years now, and we got into the habit of being inactive. Since we’ve started working out, we’ve really seen the difference in our bodies and our energy level. If you are just starting out, just focus on the fact that you are moving and being more active then you have been. The more you keep at it the better you get. Even after a week you’ll start to see differences!
  • Find recipes that are low calorie and meal plan. We’ve got a list that we often pick from. (Also-we have a spreadsheet of low calorie recipes that we can send to you. Just send us a Facebook message with your email address!). I think it’s a very common misconception that eating better doesn’t taste good. That’s not true! You can still eat things that taste good, though admittedly, you might still have some recipe fails, but sometimes all you need to do is change some recipes to be healthier. Choose grilling or baking over frying. Use chicken or pork over red meats. Meal prep so you aren’t tempted to go get fast food when you don’t have dinner planned for the night. Portion out lunches into containers to make mornings quick and easy. This part can take a few weeks to really get the hang of, but once you get some basic favorite dishes down, it becomes a lot easier. Don’t get discouraged.
  • Be honest with yourself. There will be some bad days, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing bad all of the time. Log the correct amount of calories even on the bad days. Don’t let yourself cheat too much or give yourself too many excuses. This also goes for cheat days. Be honest with yourself on how many cheat days you should actually have. We didn’t let ourselves cheat until about 6 weeks in which was the first time we logged a day in MyFitnessPal that was over our calorie goal. That may not work for everyone, but we know that we need the control or else we tend to get off track. Figure out what works best for you, but don’t lie to yourself about how you are doing. You are the only person you need to impress, not other people! Always remember that.
  • As mentioned in number 6, do what works for you and adjust as needed. For example, I used to do a very small breakfast, a lighter lunch, and then dinner would be the bigger calorie portion for me. I’ve recently adjusted to having a slightly bigger breakfast because that has been working better for me. Don’t be afraid to change things up! Don’t give up if you run into a couple of stumbling points. Same goes for exercising. Do exercises that you enjoy (or you know . . .ones that you don’t completely hate). For example, I HATE running. I want to like it but I just haven’t really enjoyed it. Because of this, when I go to the gym, I usually hit the elliptical for cardio. On the complete flip side, Zach is usually the one running on the treadmill. We’re both completely opposite, but we are successful because we are doing what works for us.

So these are what really gave us the first jump into being healthier people! These might work for you or maybe you’ll need to make some adjustments, but hopefully it helps any of you looking to make some changes. We’re constantly inspired by people who are changing to a healthier lifestyle! Follow us at Zach and Whitney Duden on Facebook and at whitneyduden and zachduden on MyFitnessPal. We’ll share recipes, updates and tips and we are always looking for more recipes, tips, motivation, and inspiring people! It’s hard to do alone, so by networking with people who can relate because they are living it, is one of the biggest things that keep us going.

You got this!