Plan But Don’t Pre-track Meals for Weight Loss Success

Experts agree that planning and strategizing are keys to successful weight loss, but they don’t work without commitment and execution. You must do the second part if you don’t want to waste your time.pre-track meals

Plan Your Meals

Planning your meals in advance will help you stay on track, especially if you eat out frequently. Review the restaurant’s menu before you head out the door. Then, when you get to the restaurant, don’t look at the menu. The second you open the menu is the second will power starts to fade. Menus are specifically designed to entice you to spend more money. Not only will you eat more than you’ve planned, but you’ll also spend more than you planned.

Restaurants are my downfall, especially when I’m traveling. I love to open up a menu and order whatever my taste buds desire. But, that mentality is why I’m still not at my goal weight. I could write an entire book on my restaurant PointsPlus® fails. For now I have a few wins and I’ll look to those for encouragement.

My Weight Watchers Pre-tracking Failure

Pre-tracking meals doesn’t work unless you execute to the plan. That’s the whole point of pre-tracking!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been having trouble tracking my meals. Honestly, it’s mostly due to the fact that I just don’t want to. I don’t like opening up my Weight Watchers App and seeing the points go down. I’m sure there’s a psychological study around this somewhere and it’s probably tied to many years of weight loss failures or my constant need to feel like I’m saving something be it money, time or resources.

In my last Weight Watchers personal coaching session my coach and I decided that pre-tracking would be a good goal to write down for this week. On Saturday, I sat down for two hours and wrote down everything that I would eat for the upcoming week. When I hit the print button to print out a weekly plan, I was surprised to see that I could only print it out day by day. I printed it out anyway.

For the days I checked off everything that I was eating. I stopped using the app daily and relied on my printed menu. That is until the day that I didn’t eat the meal I had planned. I guesstimated that the meal that I was currently eating had a similar point value to the one that I was supposed to eat so I didn’t bother tracking it. I felt like I had already done the work of tracking and didn’t feel motivated to do any more.

Unfortunately, my lack of motivation to edit my previous entries led to a spiral effect. I didn’t open up my Weight Watchers App at all this week until weigh-in day and discovered that I was one pound heavier this week. Pre-tracking without execution definitively doesn’t work for me.

Pre-track Meals for Weight Loss Success

If pre-tracking meals doesn’t work for you, consider pre-tracking the meals that are the same every day; the ones that you rarely deviate from. For me, that’s breakfast. I always have a six PointsPlus® breakfast consisting of a protein shake and coffee with cream.

I’m confident that pre-planning my meals is the right thing to do, but I won’t be pre-tracking the entire week. Engaging with the app during the day motivates me to stay within my PointsPlus® range so I’ll count my pre-tracking failure as a lesson learned and keep on keeping on!

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How to Refinish Wood Furniture Church Pews for Only $20

A few months ago my sister’s friend asked her if she wanted some church pews. Apparently, the church was renovating its interior and wanted to find good homes for them. How to Refinish Church Pews for 20When she sent me the text asking if I wanted any, I immediately jumped in and asked her for two. Church pews make the best benches for any patio!

When she dropped them off (ya…she and her husband are awesome like that) they filled my garage. Christmas was coming and I had no time to work on them so they sat acting like a shelf for all of the junk we could pile on them. When I finally found the perfect table, it was time to get busy on the benches. Here’s how I transformed them for only $20 each.


The supplies I needed for this refinishing project included:

Total = $40 with tax for both benches. So about $20 each!


  1. Lightly sand the benches using a palm sander and 120 grit sand paper. Norm from This Old House uses 80grit and progressively moves to the larger numbers (finer paper), but you only want to scuff the surface so that the gel adheres to it. You’ll need to add more layers of gel stain if you sand the pew to the bare wood. The choice is yours. I went the easier route. Don’t forget to sand with the grain, otherwise you’ll get ugly patterns will need to add more gel to cover up your mistake. Yup, I’m telling you this based on experience.

    original church pew

    Here is the original church pew that sat in my garage for months waiting to be refinished.

  2. Wipe off the dust using a cloth.
  3. Put on your latex gloves. They break easily so be prepared to replace them throughout the project or get some heavy duty ones. I like the thinner ones because I like to get in the groves and it’s difficult with big bulky gloves.
  4. Paint the first layer of Java color gel stain with a foam brush or with a piece of cloth that you’ll throw away later. Be super careful with the stain. It can stain your hands, floors and anything it comes into contact with.

    Gel Stained Church Pew

    Here is the gel stained church pew.

  5. Let the gel stain dry 6 to 12 hours.
  6. Repeat the Java gel staining and drying for at least 3 total coats until you’re satisfied.
  7. After the gel stain has dried you can apply the polyurethane using a new foam brush or cloth.

    Refinished Church Pews

    Here are both of the church pews completely refinished.

  8. Let the polyurethane dry for 4 hours before applying a second coat. Here’s how mine came out.

    Church pew refinishing

    Here’s how they look with the new refinished table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do I Use Gel Stain?

Gel Stains are heavy-bodied. They don’t soak into the wood like other oil base stains do. They still stain the wood, but don’t require a gazillion layers. They include a combination of pigments, oils, and urethanes and produce results that are both gorgeous and durable. I’ve only used General Finishes Gel Stain, so I can’t comment on the other brands or types. I prefer to stick with what works for me because I absolutely hate reworking my projects!

Why Do the Pews Appear Shorter?

You may have noticed that the church pews are shorter than the originals. My husband, Lonny used a reciprocating saw to cut the edge we didn’t want. Then he pieced it back together with the existing screws.

Where Can I Purchase Supplies?

You can purchase the gel stain and polyurethane at Amazon, Woodcraft stores and any store that deals with selling wood products exclusively. I was unable to locate this brand at hobby and home improvement stores so save yourself some time and just go straight to the source.

Other products can be purchased at Amazon, Dollar Tree, Target , Walmart, hobby stores or any big box retailer.

Should I buy a quart or a pint of gel stain?

If you’re only painting one bench a pint will be fine. If you want to do more than one, I suggest buying the quart. You should only need one pint of the polyurethane either way.

 How Can I Save this to Pinterest or Facebook?

If you’re like me,  you’ll probably forget where you found this article when you’re ready to get your church pews stained. To save this article,  click the “Pin it” button in any photo located in this post to save this article to Pinterest. You can also share this article to any social media site using the icons below. Thank you for sharing it!

You Create Pain When You Don’t Exercise

Being a mom of two very active boys leaves me little time for myself.You Create Pain When You Don’t Exercise Forget that I also have a full-time career, a thriving small business and an active volunteer calendar. But, finding time for exercise is important. You need to exercise to maintain your core strength. I learned this the hard way.

Moms Lose Core Strength During Pregnancy

If you’re a mom or if you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance you’ll lose some core strength during pregnancy and may even experience abdominal separation. If you happen to have a C-section, your road to muscle strengthening is a little bit longer. If you’re like me, you may even decide that you don’t want to do any more core strengthening…ever. But, be careful as that decision is what caused me to spend a year in pain.

You Create Pain When You Don’t Exercise

It’s awkward to think that you’ll have pain because you don’t exercise, but I’m here to tell you it’s the truth. Sometimes exercising causes pain and struggle, but not doing it can cause so much more. If you’re normal, you probably don’t think about strengthening your core, but it’s the key to reducing or eliminating pain all together.

I started having chronic back problems about a year ago. I would wake up in the morning crying because the pain that was shooting up my back was excruciating. My only relief was to lay motionless in my bed and slowly inch-by-inch attempt to get myself upright and walking. I sought the expertise of a chiropractor who explained that I was misaligned and needed treatment to the tune of 3 days per week. The pain that I had was so intense that I would’ve signed up for any treatment plan just to alleviate it.

I progressed to being able to get out of bed without pain after two months. My chiropractor visits were reduced to once per week and I joined a Yoga class to improve my strength and flexibility. I continued my chiropractic treatment for almost a year making minimal progress, until a Yoga injury caused me to stop everything. I tore my meniscus so I was unable to walk. Life seemed pretty crappy at this point.

I knew I needed a better plan. That week I met with a sports injury specialist who walked me through a plan for physical therapy and a last resort, alternative and more intensive plan. I started physical therapy that week.

A few short weeks of physical therapy led to significant progress. I was able to walk normally within 4 weeks and within 6 weeks my back problems started to dissipate. I’m almost finished with my treatment and have only seen the chiropractor once in the last two months. I’m getting better. Strength is returning. I’m back to the gym.

You Must Make Time for Exercise

You must make time for exercise to take care of yourself. Exercise isn’t always about building strength or losing weight. Sometimes it’s about maintaining core strength. When you don’t maintain your core strength it’s hard to do normal activities like cleaning, reaching and picking up objects without throwing your back out. You create more pain by not exercising so prioritize yourself and put exercise time on your calendar this week.