Music Classroom Reveal 2019

Classroom Reveal D

Here it is, folks!  My classroom reveal for 2019.  I missed posting last year.  It’s a long story which boils down to – my classroom flooded with sewage in September 2017 and I taught in an alternative classroom all year.  Even though I was able to move back in in the late Spring in preparation to start 2018, there were still issues and minor fixes that needed to be made so my room wasn’t finished until mid-September.  By then, it was past Classroom Reveal Season so I didn’t bother.

So, here we are.  Year 2 in my renovated room.  If you are follower of previous classroom reveal posts (here’s the last one I did in 2014), you’ll see some major changes since the flood.  Before the flood, my classroom had blue wallpaper and the doors and window sills were painted blue.  I also had wooden risers that the maintenance department at my school had built for the previous music teacher.  Those were lost in the flood.  Something about sitting for hours in ankle deep sewage…  I was sad to lose those because of the storage but the flipforms are much more sanitary and sturdy.  It wasn’t just the risers. All of my furniture was lost so that meant shopping.  Luckily, my instruments were not lost because the first graders I had in my room at the time of the flood jumped into action when I shouted “Get the instruments off the floor!”  They loaded all the instruments onto the risers and saved them all!  We also had a specialist look at my piano and there was, thankfully, no damage.

Okay, enough of that biz.  Let’s see at what it looks like now!

Bitmoji Classroom Welcome

Warning!  I may have gone overboard on the Bitmoji this year but they’re just so cute.  I had seen other teachers who had posted their’s on the door and loved it especially since my classroom just says music on the outside and not my name like other teachers (though I think it is because my doors go to the outside and not a hallway and I’m the only teacher in my building).  I cut out my Bitmoji and the text using my Cricut and black Cricut brand removable vinyl.  For anyone wanting to create your own vinyl bitmoji, you do have to edit it to black and white and then remove the white to create negative space to get this kind of cut.  I used Photoshop to do the edits on my Bitmoji.  The wreath was made by Pink Cat Designs.

Miss Coffey's MusicRoom

When students enter, they come down the hallway following the tape.  I prefer to have a path for students to the carpet and risers so there is less wandering and everyone knows the expectation to go immediately to their seat.

Bitmoji in the Classroom

I said there was Bitmoji Overload, remember.  My door stays locked for safety reasons which I am a fan of.  In fact, I advocated for the door being locked all the time way before all the campus doors were locked.  I, along with administration and the nurse, are the only people on campus with access to the building.  Trust me, one person telling you how they were in your room when you weren’t there is one too many.  It’s like someone being in your home without you there.  I’m not talking subs.  I’m talking about someone just chillin’.  Anyway, sometimes students or teachers come looking for me and get confused when I don’t answer the door.  Sometimes I’m gone and students or teachers don’t know where they could find me.  This was my answer.  The “Where is Miss Coffey?” part goes on the outside of the door when I’m gone and the individual cards are on the inside of the door.  I backed them with small magnets so they could be placed on the sign and on the door when not in use.

Bitmoji Greetings

This Bitmoji masterpiece is for students to use to choose how they want to be greeted.  Although I have seen other version of this since creating this, it actually was a semi-original idea (it makes me feel better if I don’t just TOTALLY copy other people…lol)

Music Connections Bulletin Board

This bulletin board has gone through many renditions and all of them have been posted on this blog.  A previous version is currently available for sale HERE. I am planning to update it with this one but, as you can see, this one has more pieces and I used the print and cut feature on my Cricut to do those.  Maybe I’ll leave the current one AND have the update available so that people can choose if they want the easy print option or the many pieces option.

MusicRoom Office

This is my office.  Since the flood ruined all of my furniture, I was able to buy new.  I love my new corner desk because it gives me desktop space to work with and the matching file cabinets just make me so happy.  It just looks so much cleaner than it did before (ironic after a sewage flood).  With the exception of the Funko Pop collection, I think I’ve grown up in my decorating skills.

Miss Coffey's MusicRoom

Miss Coffey's Music Room

If you’ve been a longtime follower, you’ll recognize my Not Quite Anchor Charts which have also gone through several reiterations and are available for sale HERE.  As you can see, I’ve redone them again to match my classroom decor and they may become in my store at a later time.

Miss Coffey's Music Room

Music Alphabet and Objectives

I created this Alphabet to match my color scheme.  It may also become available in my store soon.  The word wall pieces were created by Melody Payne and can be found HERE.

The objectives board was created with Black Cricut brand removable vinyl (and my cricut…duh) and black electrical tape.  After I made it and printed out even more Bitmoji, I wanted the objectives to look nice too and not be handwritten.  I didn’t realize how big of a project it was to type out, print, and bind my objectives for each grade for the entire year.  Mod Mus is my modified music class for students with significant disabilities whose needs require more attention than what the general education music class can offer and I really can’t plan too far ahead for that one since I don’t even know the students, their ages, their needs until school stars (hence the hole).  I’m not quite finished and need more command hooks to hang them like the 5th grade example shown.

Bitmoji Emergencies

Another Bitmoji project which I just think is fun.

Music Class Incentives and Brag Tags

I use Class Dojo as a classroom management tool and students can earn privileges based on their “belt.”  They also get a Belt card as they level up.  I also have other “brag tags” for skills and character traits as you can see.  I don’t have my “brag tags” for sale but Tracy King has some available for sale here.

Miss Coffey's Music RoomInstead of we Say Poster Growth Mindset

This poster is available in my Teachers Pay Teacher Stores HERE.

Classroom Reveal Set A5

This bulletin board is new and I THINK I’m going to use the MUSIC rules as my main rules.  School starts in Monday so I better decide quick.  Previously, this bulletin board had the posters above which are all available in my store.

All teachers in my school have been asked to have calming zones in the classroom for students to calm-down in.  Mine is behind the piano so they have some privacy if they’re having a meltdown.  The letters were cut with my Cricut and using the removable Cricut brand vinyl mentioned above.

The flowers are from Hobby Lobby and were on clearance. (Yay)

Classroom Reveal Set B

Classroom Reveal Set B9

I LOVE these carpet squares from Lakeshore Learning because they allow me to assign seats by numbers without having to figure out how to attach the numbers.  I also like having the carpet squares on the flipform risers because they are so loud.  Pre-K sits on the carpet while everyone else mostly sits on the risers.

Classroom Reveal Set B10

Although I do miss the under riser storage of my old risers.  I do like the mini-stage created by my extra flipforms for my instruments.  Students in K-2 are able to sit up on the stage and play the instruments without moving them.  Students in 3-5 do have to move some instruments to fit their bigger bodies on the stage.  I also have some smaller glockenspiels on a shelf so I have enough for everyone to play at the same time.

Classroom Reveal Set C8

Instrument Posters are available by Melody Payne HERE.

Classroom Reveal Set C9

Music is a Language Poster available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store HERE.

The Rules According to Mr. Potato Head poster is not currently for sale.  Pre-K and Kinder do Mr. Potato Head rules at the beginning of school to introduce classroom rules.

Music Posters iPad Expectations

Classroom Reveal Set B2

I know.  I need two more boxes.  It’s a work in progress. I love the organization though!

Miss Coffey's Music Room

Ukulele cart Music Room

Classroom Reveal Set B8

Well, I think that’s it.  If you have any questions, let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Name for blog


Favorite Weight-Loss Journey Resources

Since putting it out there and since I wear my journey on my body, I frequently get asked about what tools and resources I use for working on weight-loss.   Here are some of my favs:


I’ve talked about this app multiple times in previous posts. It has been such a help with the tracking calories portion of this journey.  I have also started tracking macros (both as percentages of daily food intake and overall grams) BUT I’m not strict about it.  I mostly use that part of tracking to stay mindful with my choices.  The app is not just for tracking food though.  I also use it to track my water since I’m aiming for a gallon a day and I’ve started to track fiber (no more explanation needed, lol).  I did pay for one year of the premium membership and I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to renew.  The free membership allows for the calorie tracking but not the additional tracking like for water and macro-nutrients.  It is also ad-supported.  Below is a comparison from their website.


Image from

Another thing I like about the paid version is the ability to pre-plan meals because sometimes I’ll plan all my meals for the day the night before as I’m packing my lunch, breakfast, and snacks to go to school.  I can always change my mind but it makes it easier.  It’s like meal-prepping without the cooking.  Lol!

I don’t work for LoseIt and don’t get any money if you go Premium.  I used the free version for two months and it worked just fine.  It is still a good app even if you only do the free version.  Another popular tracker is My Fitness Pal but I don’t have any experience with it.

Happy Scale

Happy Scale App

Have you ever stepped on the scale after doing everything right and the number is higher than it was the day before?  Do you think “Why did I bother?”

The Happy Scale app helps to eliminate that feeling by smoothing out your daily scale weight to an average to give you a better idea of whether you’re on track or not.  I like to weigh everyday.  There’s something about the data and I’d rather know than hope and wait however long between weigh-ins.  Happy Scale HELPS calm that anxiety when the number of the scale doesn’t trend in a downward motion all the time.  I say “helps” because we all know I’m a hot mess.

I discovered this app through a weight-loss podcast called…

Half Size Me

I absolutely love this podcast.  It does get a little redundant when she says the same things over and over again BUT I think I totally need that too.  I’ve found myself saying a lot of her rhetoric because I’ve been listening so much.  I started at the most recent episode a couple months ago and then have been going backwards and am already to 2016.

The creator of the Half-Size Me show is a woman named Heather who lost 170 pounds and has KEPT IT OFF for 7 years.  That’s amazing!  Every week she either brings someone on to interview them about their weight-loss journey OR does listener questions.  She also does Facebook Live Videos and creates courses for both weight-loss and maintenance.

There is also a Half-Size Me community that she has created but you must pay to be a member.  I’m not a member because of the paywall but everyone who speaks on her show is and they rave about the community (the cynical part of me says “well of course they do.  It’s her community and her show).

My favorite episodes are Episode 345 “Ask Coach Heather 029 – How to Start Liking Your Body as It is Today” because I struggle with that even after losing the weight and Episode 381 “How to End Emotional Ending” because I still catch myself trying to use food as my go-to coping mechanism.  Even though I’ve already listened to both of these episodes, I keep them downloaded on my phone so I can re-listen as needed.


Finally, I’ve found a lot of support in Facebook groups for Weight-Loss.  I am a member of Weight-Loss Support Group, Weight- Loss Support and Motivation for a Healthy Lifestyle, and Weight-Loss Support which, I know, all sound like the same group but they’re not.  I like the community and “safe” place to post questions.  Yes, your name is attached but it’s not like everyone of your friends knows your business.  Plus, it’s a group of like-minded individuals and you can support others as well as get support when you need it.

Be careful because some groups are a little skeazy and make to sure you only join ones where people aren’t allowed to hound you to sell you something (unless you’re into that).

I hope one or more these tools help you on your journey.  Do you have any favorites?  I’d love to hear about them!

Thanks for reading!

Name for blog

WeightLoss Tracker HERE

Monthly Macro and Exercise Tracker HERE

10 Tips for Weight-Loss (with a Disclaimer)

10 Tips Title

Let me reiterate my disclaimer.  I’m not an expert or a professional in dieting, fitness, or weight-loss. I’m only speaking from my experience as someone who has been overweight or obese most of my adult life, has lost a significant amount of weight, and has learned a lot from this journey that needs sharing.  I’ve also had several people ask me about what I’m doing and how they can replicate my success.  Here’s what I got:

Blog Titles - 10 Tips

I wanted this to either be first or last because of it’s importance.  The problem with most “diets” is that they are not sustainable for the long term and transitioning from a prescribed diet to eating “normally” again frequently leads to a weight-gain rather than maintaining the loss.  Of course, you do you but realize that you can’t do a highly restrictive, prescribed diet for weeks or months and then go back to your former ways of eating without gaining back the weight.  You must either continue that highly restrictive, prescribed diet OR figure out a way to balance living your best life while still monitoring and being aware of your choices.

I know myself.  I know I like sweet treats.  Because of this knowledge and understanding that I can not go the rest of my life without sweet treats, I have a sweet treat almost everyday.  I plan for it in my calorie budget.  Do I eat out of the Blue Bell half gallon carton like I used to?  Absolutely not.  I’ve found some low calorie treats that can satisfy by sweet craving.  See me for a list. 🙂

It surprises people to know I have a sweet treat everyday because they expect someone who has lost almost 100 pounds and is still working to lose to be super restrictive but I’m not trying to lose the weight super fast.  I don’t want to repeat this cycle every couple years for the rest of my life.  I want this to be it and, to achieve that, I have to figure how I can eat the foods I love and enjoy my life while also being mindful about my choices.

Blog Titles - 10 Tips2

In an earlier post, I wrote about how these changes started small.  Last September, I didn’t jump in to monitoring macros, drinking a gallon of water a day, exercising 4-6 days of week, or any of that.  I focused on one change at time.  I started with cutting out Dr. Pepper and replacing it with juice, sports drinks, and the occasional Sprite.  That in and of itself was a beast because I ONLY drank Dr. Pepper at that point.  You can read more about specific changes over time HERE.

Making small changes instead of tackling the whole beast at once allows you to engage in the process without being totally overwhelmed by trying to change too much at once and then giving up in frustration and exhaustion.

Before you make a small change though, you must figure out where you are.  I’m not talking about weight, just in general.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How many calories a day do I currently eat?
How many times a week do I eat out?
How much exercise do I get in a week?
How much movement do I get each day?
How much water do I drink?

Using an app such as the LoseIt! app or My Fitness Pal, you can track your calories and get a basic sense of what you’re currently doing so that you can prepare yourself to making small changes.  If you are currently eating 2500 calories, maybe go down to 2250 and see if that is maintainable.  If you don’t want to do the calorie tracking route, go with one of the other ideas above.  If you are currently eating out 7 days a week, maybe trying eating out 5 days a week and eating at home those other two days.  If you’re drinking 4 sodas a day, see if you can keep it at 3 sodas a day.  If most exercises are a no-go, perhaps just upping your movement can be your change?  Parking further away from the door, taking a walk around the block, walking to stores in the same shopping center rather than driving are all ways to incorporate more movement into your daily activities.

Small changes add up to big results.  Don’t discount the effects that small changes can have on your overall health.

Blog Titles - 10 Tips3

Solely going by the scale can be infuriating because there is so much more going with your body…especially if you’re a woman.  Celebrating the non-scale victories takes the power and significance away from the scale and back on yourself.

My most recent non-scale victories have been celebrating what my body is capable of that it wasn’t a year ago.  I moved apartments over the summer and, although it was exhausting, I was surprised at how much stamina I had.  Working in my classroom this past week in preparation of going back to school has also been enlightening as I realize how less tired but stronger I feel.

Last night, I went with some colleagues to a fitness event called Dance2Fit and, although it was hard, I did the entire workout and felt successful at it.  It wasn’t perfect by any means but I did it AND I felt like I belonged there.  For so long, I’ve felt like an outsider in fitness activities as if the fit, healthy people were judging me and expecting me to fail.

This one is going to sound random but I don’t get as hot as I used to and therefore don’t sweat as embarrassingly much.  Sweating while exercising is a different story but just overall being hot all the time has changed drastically.  This summer, I’ve had the thermostat on 78-80 degrees where I used to keep it between 65-72 degrees.  I haven’t had the fans at all when I worked in my classroom.  I’ve even become one of those weirdos who has to bring a sweater places because I get cold.  What?

Blog Titles - 10 Tips4

Even after losing almost 100 pounds, I’m still over 35 pounds from reaching what the BMI charts classify as a healthy weight for my height.  Let me tell you, I didn’t even weigh that “healthy weight” in high school with a teenager’s metabolism and dancing five days a week.  I doubt I’ve weighed that since puberty even started.

On the flip side, as of this morning, I’m .2 pounds from reaching my initial goal.  Although I know I’m going to want to go lower, I’m planning on taking it in ten pound increments and seeing if I can continue my standard of living (having a daily sweet treat, eating what I want while staying within a calorie span, etc.) at those levels.  Would I like to be at a “healthy” BMI?  Of course, but am I willing to give up certain things for the rest of my life to get there and stay there?

This goes back to Tip 1 about not doing anything for a diet that you’re not willing to continue for the rest of your life.  Anyone can lose weight.  Anyone can restrict themselves and kill it at the gym for a while to achieve a desired weight.  What is less common is maintaining the weight-loss and realizing that sometimes an achievable weight is different from a maintainable weight.

Choosing a weight that is maintainable while still allowing yourself to live your best life will give you a better change at keeping the weight off longterm.

Blog Titles - 10 Tips5

Notice I didn’t say workout everyday.  Just figure out how you can add more movement to your life.  Walking Coco has been my biggest way to incorporate more movement into each day.  Here is are some resources with ideas on incorporating more movement into your daily routine:

24 Ways to Incorporate More Movement Into Your Day

11 Ways to Squeeze More Movement Into Your Day

Blog Titles - 10 Tips6

I admit it.  I’m an introvert and have hermit tendencies.  I made a conscious effort NOT to go full hermit this summer.  I consider myself a success with this right now.

I don’t know about you but, when I’m trying something new or doing something I’m unsure if I’m going to be successful in, I hide it.  I don’t know if I’m afraid of being a failure or afraid of being perceived as one keeps me from showing the vulnerability of not knowing if I’m going to succeed at something.  It’s totally related to my self-esteem issues which are a constant work-in-progress.

Anyway, I know I hide when I’m doing something difficult because, if I fail, I want to fail in private.  My mother has totally called out my posting my journey here and on social media because I’m laying it all out there and can’t hide it now.  If I go backwards in my journey and gain all 99 pounds back, everyone will see…literally…on my body.

That being said, although it may seem to be easier and less risky to go it alone, you’re not setting yourself up for success in the longterm.  Luckily, I’ve had my mother every step of the way on this journey.  She and my sister get to hear what I wouldn’t dare to post on social media.  They hear the ups and downs.  They hear about the binges, the guilt, the successes, all of it.  I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am without that support.

My mother goes to Weight Watchers for that support and community.  There are online forums and groups on Facebook to help provide that as well.  The point is to not try to do this alone.  We need to support and build up each other because losing the weight and maintaining the loss is not an easy task and it is one that requires a daily choice and recommitment.

Blog Titles - 10 Tips7

I had been doing so good for months…and then July hit.  In July, I finished the process of moving, my canine best friend had surgery (and is still in the cone one month later), and, being summer, I’m off my routine.  To counteract the lack of routine, I worked to create one for myself by working out in the mornings and the evenings, using the afternoons to rest, create pretty things, or whatever I wanted, and continue to have a standard bedtime.  Well, that all got derailed when Coco had her surgery and I was homebound with her for two weeks.  I went to my Mom’s the first week in an attempt to not be completely homebound and because, between all the medication and wound care, I was overwhelmed with everything Coco needed and just needed the help.  Plus, Caitlan is a nurse. #win

I didn’t work-out at all that week.  I barely even incorporated movement because I was housebound for the most part and my walking buddy was physically impaired.  Six days after surgery, she busted her stitches open.  It had been a major risk because of the location of the mass she had removed and the limited amount of skin available to close the incision and it happened which set back her recovery time.

I came home with her for church the Sunday after her surgery and although I did work-out some that next week, I wasn’t comfortable leaving Coco for long periods of time for obvious reasons.  I’m still not back to where I was in June.  Plus, after 4 rounds of antibiotics, pain meds, and anti-inflammatory drugs, 2 cones, and $1500, this process has been a major stressor.  And what does Cara want to do when she is stressed?  EAT!

I kept it together (for the most part) but the stress of the situation coupled with the halt of my routine made for lower loss for the month of July than in previous months. I pretty much spent the entire month losing and regaining the same couple pounds.

Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 1.53.32 PM

Yep, 2.2 pounds had me feeling like a failure until…

Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 1.54.34 PM

That’s huge!  Yes, it was a hard month and I didn’t lose what I wanted to but that doesn’t discount the amazing progress I’ve made and will continue to make if I stay the course.  I didn’t let this month of minimal loss derail my train of success and neither should you because hard times are going to come.  Stressful times are going to come and figuring out how to tread the difficult waters in this journey is just as important as the success you can make when conditions are perfect.

Blog Titles - 10 Tips8

So, I didn’t lose much in the month of July and now it’s August.  I still haven’t been losing much BUT even that one additional pound I’ve lost since August hit is a victory.  Also, I keep having to remind myself, it’s slowing down as there’s less to lose.  The point is to keep going.

Confession: August 1st was the 10 year anniversary of my Dad’s death.  I ate my feelings in excess of over 4000 calories that day (and it was delicious).  I gave myself a pass that day but got right back to it.  As I just said above, hard times are going to come.  There are days when you’re going to be sad or angry but keep at it.  If you fall off the wagon, get right back on.  The only thing stopping you is you.

Blog Titles - 10 Tips9

At the Back-to-School bash on Thursday, a colleague was so amazed that I was eating a hamburger and fries and, get this, with KETCHUP.  Maybe she was expecting a salad?  Confession:  I’ve never eaten a salad and don’t intend to.  It didn’t take a single salad to lose almost a 100 pounds.

To make sustainable change, you have to continue to live your life.  There will always be holidays, birthdays, celebrations, vacations, and you’re going to want to participate.  The idea is to figure out how you live that best life while still maintaining your goals and lifestyle change.  To prepare for the Back-to-School bash, I looked up the menu in an effort to look for nutritional information.  I didn’t find any so I decided what was comparable and counted that.  A burger, fries, and yes, 2 Sprites added up quickly so I knew I wouldn’t have many more calories for the day to maintain my deficit so I ended up fasting beforehand.  Another option I could have chosen would be to just be on maintenance calories that day instead of continuing with the caloric deficit.

Don’t NOT go to events or do things because you’re dieting.  Of course, this doesn’t mean go to a wedding and eat four pieces of delicious wedding cake.  It just means to let yourself live and participate in life while being mindful.

Blog Titles - 10 Tips10

This process is too hard to do for anyone but yourself.  My journey actually started when I realized I didn’t want to die soon.  Side note: I realize God is in control of this and I’ll totally go when it wants me but why help it along by eating myself into an early grave.

ANYWAY, deciding to make a conscious effort to change your life is one only you can make for yourself.  No one else can make the decision for you and you can’t make the decision for someone else.

Do it for yourself.  Do it because you love yourself.  Do it so you can live your best life.

I hadn’t realized I wasn’t living my best life.  Yes, I ate whatever I wanted but I was in a cloud of shame and self-loathing that I still spiral into on occasion.  I’m a work in progress.

Maybe your struggle isn’t your weight?  Maybe your struggle is something the world can’t see.  These tips can be transferred to any process that is long and hard and requires significant work on yourself as a person.  I hadn’t realized how mental this process was.

I hope this information helps you and I’m hoping by writing this, I can remind myself to stay the course and heed my own advice on this journey.

Thanks for reading,

Name for blog


The Mental Effects of Dieting: Cara Overshares Again

I’ll start by saying I may have way too much time for contemplation on my hands which is somewhat ironic because this has been the busiest summer in a while.  My life for the past several months has been almost consumed with this weight-loss journey so it makes sense that my brain goes there.

Disclaimer:  I’m not a scientist.  I’m not a health expert.  I’m not an anthropologist.  I’m just a girl with a blog and a head full of thoughts.

July Blog Post - Headers2

So many people ask me regularly how I lost/am losing the weight.  In fact, it was recently brought to my attention that people who will remain nameless have been talking about it amongst themselves like I’ve found a secret fountain of weight-loss magic that I’m not sharing.  Truth: it’s diet and exercise.


I posted this screenshot a little less than a month ago and later found out it was quite a controversy.  Cara eats pizza and ice cream?  What?  She’s dieting!  How can this be?  Not that it’s anyone’s business exactly what I eat, I understand the need to understand…if that makes sense.

When I say diet, I mean a caloric deficit which is to consume less than you burn.  You figure out your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) using an online tool such as this one, this one, or this one. Then, you subtract calories from that determined by how much you want to lose.  By subtracting 500 calories from your TDEE, you’re aiming at a 1 pound per week loss (1 pound equals 3500 calories) which is a healthy rate of loss without too crazy of restrictions.

Now, back to the image above.  Yes, I had pizza this day but it was a mini microwavable pizza and I was moving in two days and trying to clear out my freezer.  Yes, I had ice cream but it was a Chilly Cow which has 6 grams of protein and is pretty low cal for a tasty sweet treat.  The two shake looking icons represent the protein shakes I drink because my personal trainer suggested I consume 120 grams of protein a day.  The cookie was a treat and it was not healthy but it was delicious.  My point is that yes, I ate pizza, and ice cream, and a cookie that day BUT I stayed within my calorie range which is the point of a caloric deficit.  Finally, real quick for those who may be thinking that “yes, she’s losing weight but is this really a healthy diet?”  You’re looking at a one day snapshot not what I eat everyday.  My blood work says I’m healthy (the healthiest I’ve been in years, in fact).

I think what may be surprising about this revelation of pizza, ice cream, and a cookie is that we as a culture equate diet was deprivation.  Yes, I have had the munchies for several days now so I am depriving myself in this aspect but, for the most part, I eat what I want.  It is about the choices I make not what I withhold from myself.  I didn’t gain 100 pounds overnight.  That was 17 years of eating out large portions of fatty foods, drink large amounts of sugary sodas, and not being active that caused those 100 pounds to pack on.  Because I didn’t gain it overnight, I can’t expect to lose it overnight either (and hope to keep it off) and neither can you.

The dichotomy in how, as a culture, we view food and diet has become very apparent these last few months.  We value being thin and it seems to be the ideal however every event from celebrations to tragedies seem to be centered around food.  What’s more is that, even though it is recognized that being thin is an ideal, those who are dieting may be criticized at these events if they don’t “cheat.”  In May, Teacher Appreciation Week was celebrated with a different celebratory meal or treat each day.  Although it was mostly understood why I wasn’t partaking at every opportunity, I was at times made to feel guilty that I wasn’t appreciating the gesture by eating/drinking.  Phrases like “I like a girl who can eat” are used to refer to thin woman who order a hamburger instead of a salad but would never be said about an overweight woman.  Dieters are frequently joked to about “cheating” at celebratory events but (I’d hope) no one would say that to someone with an alcohol or drug addiction.  We want to have it both ways but it just doesn’t work.

Phew!  Sorry, I got a little heated there.

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You’ve probably seen this quote from Kate Moss who said “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”  I used to say that she must have never had tacos.

Although my goal is not to be skinny, I changed it to healthy because I’m realizing the truth of this statement.  At the new apartment, there isn’t a bark park so Coco and I have been taking multiple walks a day.  We’ve been averaging two miles a day.  I listen to a podcast and we just zig zag throughout the community.  I walk to take the trash and recycling where I used to load it in my car and drive it.  I walk to the grocery store and the gym.  I walk and I’m not winded. I do a full hour of Zumba or another class without thinking I’m going to keel over.  I can put it a whole day of activities and feel satisfied with the day instead of so exhausted I collapse onto the couch.  (We’ll see what happens when school starts again.  That’s always mega exhausting).

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Back to the famous pizza and ice cream –

I’ve harped on this in other posts.  It isn’t about going a diet but making a maintainable, sustainable lifestyle change.  It’s also about baby steps.  If you’re eating out breakfast, lunch, and dinner at 4000 calories a day with no exercise, it is not feasible to immediately restrict to vegetables only, 1000 calories a day, with rigorous exercise.  Small changes built over time will do more to create lasting change than making a complete 180.

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I know myself.  I love sweet treats.  If someone told me to be healthy, I couldn’t have another sweet treat, I’d probably say I couldn’t do this then.  I love pizza.  I love cheesy-fry goodness BUT, since I love walking 2 miles without getting winded more, I watch the portions.  I balance out those things I love with things that will keep me moving forward.

To do this, you also have to be brutally honest.  Yesterday, there was a Teacher Event at Walmart where there was cake and ice cream.  Yes, I ate the cake and ice cream and my first thought was, “I won’t log this.  This isn’t a big piece of cake and that is just a little dab of ice cream.”  False!  Log everything!  I did log both the cake and the ice cream but I had to guess on proportions which is not ideal.

Sidebar: if you’re really interested in logging your food and tracking your calories, you must invest in a food scale.  Seriously.

When you are looking to make a change, you have to think: Can I do this for the rest of my life?  Since I know I love sweet treats, I have to balance that and incorporate it into my plan to lose and then maintain my weight.  That may be budgeting my calories so that I can eat the sweet treat without going over my daily calories.  If I do go over one day, that may mean eating less the next so the week is still at a deficit.  That may mean taking a maintenance break during celebratory times.  If I just deprived myself of sweet treats, not only would I resent the journey but there would be more of a potential to binge and then feel like a failure.

I will admit, I have felt like a failure the past couple weeks.  I haven’t lost anything since the first of July.  I take that back, I’ve lost three pounds but it was three pounds I gained…and then lost…and then gained again…and then lost again.  It has been very frustrating.  I’ve maintained a caloric deficit, I’ve worked out six out of seven days a week but I’ve been stuck.  What really stinks is being SO CLOSE to my initial goal and yet struggling so far to pass that marker.  (It’s not a finish line because a lifestyle change means this is forever.  There is no going back).

After feeling like a failure most of the week, I woke up this morning, opened Facebook, and saw a notification for a photo posted of me a year ago today.  It was taken at the Frida Fest where my friend Nanette was selling her photography book I had formatted and created the title design for.  There aren’t many full body photos of me from before so it was jarring at first to see myself.  Then I compared.


I’d felt like a failure for two weeks because I had been losing and gaining and losing the same three pounds over and over again.  What I neglected to realize is that I kept off the 78 pounds!  Yes, it is frustrating to work toward a goal and seemingly make no headway but the proof is in the pictures.  We as humans are so quick to point out the mistakes that we have to see past those mistakes or failures to see what has gone right.  Please help me remember this when my mindset decides to revert back to the I-can’t-I’m-a-failure realm.


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I’ve mentioned a change in my confidence as I’ve lost the weight.  I wear more dresses.  I wear less baggy clothes in general.  Even though I acknowledge that those changes have occurred, I’m still the same person.  I bring this up because I’ve been asked and even my friends have been asked if I’m going to start dating now that I’ve lost the weight.  Wait, what?  The reason I didn’t date was all because of my weight?  It didn’t have anything to do with having limited social circle, anxiety, introversion, and dating just not being a priority?  Wow!  Wait…how come I know plenty of overweight people who date, get married, are happy in wedded bliss, etc? Did their weight not effect their dating prospects/potential too?  Do you see where I’m going?  The reason I really don’t date has much more to do with my mind, my expectations in a prospective mate, and my social anxiety/awkwardness than it does my body.  I acknowledge that that is quite a statement and there are many things I need to work on but I feel it is offensive to assume that my looks have been the reason I’m single.

That being said, one of the things I need to work on is this feeling that I’m really a fraud.  Who am I to spouting out weight-loss advice like I’m some expert?  I feel like I’m going to open my eyes and realize that my friends and family have all just been playing along and this hasn’t really been happening.  Does everyone just smile and nod their heads so they don’t hurt my feelings knowing that there is no way I’ve lost all this weight?  Do people assume I’m lying? Can you really tell a difference or is it all in my head?  My mind understands the number on the scale went down and I’m wearing smaller clothes but yet I’m still that girl.

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When I talk about going to the gym, is this really me or am I just a really good faker?  When I talk about a caloric deficit, is this really me or am I just a really good faker?  Is this lifestyle change possible or am I just faking it until I get tired and revert back to my old ways?

As a side note: the fraud feeling seeps into pretty much every aspect of my life.  Am a great teacher or just really good faker?  Am I good musician or just a really good faker?

I do realize that this is all my brain but it amazes me how something that is seemingly so physical (dieting, exercise, etc.) has such an extensive mental component.  Maybe others have these thoughts too?  I’m just the only crazy pants sharing them with the world.

Thank you for being my counseling session.

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June Update and Weightloss Tracker

June was a busy month for not working full-time.  Ha!  I definitely could get used to not working full-time if I didn’t need, you know, the money.  I logged 44 hours of exercise.  Crazy, I know but it felt good (for the most part).  I started a new activity called Aqua Fit at the gym (hence the incorrectly worn swim cap).  I did figure out how to correctly wear the cap…eventually and have since switched to one specifically for long hair which has helped immensely.  I like Aqua Fit because of the low impact and low stress.  It’s mostly old ladies who seemingly don’t care and flaunt what they have.  I wish I was as confident as the Aqua Fit ladies.

I have started thinking about school but not too much. I finished Pre-K and Kindergarten lesson plans for the entire year.  1st-3rd grades are mostly finished and 4th-5th are in pretty good shape but still need work.  I’m about halfway through the compliance bundle (All that information that the powers that be don’t think we’re smart enough to remember from year to year).

Caitlan came to visit to help me pack (more on that in a moment).  We had a way fun time but I kept it (mostly) in control each day while we ate out and partied.  I even worked out two out of the four days she was here.

The big ordeal of this month was moving.  I didn’t move far.  My new home isn’t even six miles from my old home but it is still an undertaking.  You just don’t realize how much STUFF you have until you have to pack it, move it, and then unpack it…and that’s AFTER I’ve given away SO MUCH STUFF and thrown away a lot that I was holding onto (for various reasons…none of them good).

I did work out on the days I moved by myself but didn’t on the day of the big move or the following days of unpacking.  It is so overwhelming to have my stuff scattered and not in its place yet so I took the time to unpack.  It’s still not finished but it’s coming along. My favorite thing so far is having a garage.

Coco seems to like the new place even though there isn’t a dog park and I’ve only even seen one other dog besides her.  There is still plenty of grass and walkways though so she’s fine.  She randomly loves the bushes.

Other perk of the new home: it is in walking distance to so many conveniences.  There is a grocery store across the street from the community so I walked there on Saturday.  Of course, I couldn’t get a whole lot because I’d have to carry it but it is perfect for when you need only 1 or 2 (or 20 if they’re light) items.  There is also a pet supply store, a Dollar Tree, and my gym nearby.  I walked to the gym today.  It took about eight minutes both ways which is a great additional exercise.  I probably wouldn’t do that in the evening for safety reasons but during the day is great.

So, now it’s July 1st.  Where am I in relation to my goals?  As of this morning, I’m down 81 pounds and have, obviously increased my exercise.  Of course, I won’t be able to do 44 hours of exercise once schools starts back up again but it is helping to prevent any summer backsliding.  I’ve worked with the personal trainer this month and, although it is not easy, I see the importance of adding strength exercise and building muscle.


Since we know I love charts and data, I created yet another tracker for specifically tracking weight-loss.  This one can be printed on to be filled out or you are welcome to take a screenshot to be input as an image file to type over.  I’m choosing to type over and then print it off for my planner.  Here is my data:

Weightloss Tracker

Mine starts in September of 2018 because that’s when I started this journey but I have a regular 12 month version for anyone interested in downloading for themselves.  Click on the image for a download of the blank tracker for 2019, 2020, and the total weight loss page.

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I know weight is such a touchy subject and I’m hoping, that by being open, we can demystify the topic and share with each other our ups and downs. I’ve been listening to the Half-Size Me podcast lately and the host Heather said something that has really stuck with me about people’s reactions to other people losing and gaining weight.  She basically said that, while you are losing weight, people are cheering you on and congratulating you but, if/when you gain any of it back, it is the loudest silence you’ll ever hear.  That is discouraging because so much of this journey has been mental as well as physical and it seems to be that way for most people.  By gaining weight, it becomes apparent that something is going on.  That may be something positive like being in a new relationship or starting a new job but it could also be something negative that the person is trying to cope with.  I’m not suggesting anyone say “Hey, you’ve put on weight.  Is something going on?” because that is horrifying but maybe just checking on your friends if you notice that they’re moving backwards away from past goals.  Maybe they’re fine but usually they’re not.  I give everyone permission to check on me if you notice me going backwards…but be kind because I’m pretty sensitive (#disaster).

Figuring our what triggers me to eat my feelings and learning how NOT to use food to cope as been as big of a challenge as anything.  Of course, I still love to eat but I’m working toward learning how I can eat/do/live while maintaining this lifestyle change as well as having a healthy mindset and relationship with food.

Thanks for reading!

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Monthly Macro and Exercise Tracker

The personal trainer keeps asking what I’m eating and how much I’m exercising and, although I have this information in the LoseIt App and Activity App, it doesn’t give a month or year view.   Again, since I love data, I decided to remedy that so when someone asks, I’m ready with the information.

Monthly Macro Tracker

I fasted this past Saturday so my calorie count was super low but you can get an idea of how to fill it out.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the LoseIt App tracks the macros for you as well as calories.  The idea is to create a caloric deficit.  3500 calories = 1 pound.


I also did a monthly version of the Exercise Tracker because the boxes were pretty small.  I’m still going to use it because it shows the entire year on one page but the monthly view allows for more details.

Monthly Exercise Tracker

The personal trainer is wanting me to do more anaerobic exercise since I have the cardio down so that’s why I wanted to add an option to track that.  The “Other” is for activities such as stretching and yoga that are neither aerobic or anaerobic.


You can totally see that Sundays are my day of rest.  Lol!  Anyway, I’ve uploaded these trackers as a single file for whoever is interested.  You can download them HERE.

Thanks for reading and for all of your support! I have been overwhelmed with your kind words and encouragement.

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What I Did This School Year – A Year for Me

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I didn’t know a year ago that I’d be going on a journey this school year.  In fact, I had worked it out with my boss that I would step back with my duties and clubs so that I could pursue other personal goals because I was legitimately on the fast track to burn out.  Little did I know what those personal goals would end up being and where they’d take me.

I had recently started playing piano professionally again and had returned to working as a church pianist.  I’d long wanted to go back to school to pursue a master’s degree (that hasn’t panned out…yet…due to the upcoming story).

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One of my good friends, Jaime, says the picture on the left looks funny because of the angle.  I’m tall and it was taken by someone several inches shorter than I am.  I’m usually the tallest amongst my friends and years of also being “The Big Girl” has taught me to hunch to try to shrink.  I was actually quite confident in how I looked on this night.  I was being honored as a distinguished educator and, though I didn’t win the overall award, I was still proud of what I had accomplished especially considering my history with not-nice people who have tried to push me down (that’s another story).

The thing is, I didn’t realize how UNHAPPY I was.  I’m not trying to body-bash and kudos to those who feel comfortable in their own skin.  My problem is that I never have.  In high school, I danced five days a week and still weighed 50+ pounds more than my friends.  I’m 5’9 and, as some called it, “big-boned” and never understood why I was so much bigger than everyone.  Why did I have to shop in the plus-sized section at 17?  Why couldn’t I shop at the stores my friends shopped at (the ones that are legit Fat People Discriminatory).  So, I gave up.  Why try to fight it?  I’m here; I’m big.  Let’s just learn how to live in this big body.

Fast forward almost two decades. My teenage stamina and metabolism had long faded. and my health was deteriorating.  My doctor had long been concerned over my blood work but not enough to go on medication because I was still young (ish).  I continued to eat whatever I wanted which included eating out for almost every meal and in large portions.  I drank soda (particularly Dr. Pepper) like it was water and my only exercise was whatever I happened to do in my classroom which become less and less over the years.  In total, I had gained over 100 pounds since high school.

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The reason the Trinity Prize picture is my go-to “before” photo is because I legitimately don’t have hardly any.  Over the years, the selfies and photos of myself I’ve allowed to be taken has lessoned.  There are at least 10 or more photos of my dog for every photo of myself.  Why?  Shame.

As much as I tried to convince myself that I was “fat and happy,”  I wasn’t.  I crouched and shrugged in photos.  I stood or sat in the back at every opportunity.  At social functions, I was the epitome of a wall-flower (okay, that’s a personality thing too but I’m working on it).  It wasn’t just my size I was ashamed of.  I was ashamed of how much I ate at a time so I’d eat alone.  I’d order two meals at a restaurant and take it home praying that the server would assume I was taking the extra meal home to someone (like they cared).  I was ashamed of what my body couldn’t do anymore.  It was embarrassing to go up a flight of stairs and be huffing and puffing by the end.  It was embarrassing to be the slowest walker in a crowd.

Again, if you’re confident in your skin, awesome.  This is not a judgement on any other person.  These are just Cara’s thoughts.

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I was afraid.  I didn’t tell people but I was afraid about getting diabetes (family history) but I didn’t want to do anything about because I liked my life (or so I thought at the time).  I loved eating what and how much I wanted.  I loved not limiting myself even though I was ashamed of my choices.  I loved the comfort that food would give me after a hard time.  I’ve never been a smoker and I don’t drink often.  Food was/is my vice.  When something good happened, I celebrated with food.  When something bad happened, I comforted myself with food.  I knew I wasn’t fine but I didn’t realize how not-fine I was.

Weightloss Journey3On a Saturday in September, I started having a really bad tooth ache.  I’ve have teeth issues that I don’t want to discuss but hadn’t had an ache to this extent in years.  I went to bed with tylenol but woke up with it still there.  I went to church on Sunday but was starting to notice other sinus-y symptoms.  By Sunday night, I was calling my mother in tears.  I took Monday off and went to Urgent Care which is a big step for me because I hate going to the doctor at all let alone a stranger.  My blood pressure was through the roof.  They took in multiple times trying to see if it was an error or if I’d calm down with time.  Nope!  The doctor at Urgent Care diagnosed a sinus infection but was mostly worried about the blood pressure so he gave me the symptoms of a heart attack and stroke in women and told me to call 911 if I began to experience them.  Friends, I’m 35 and hearing the symptoms of a heart attack and stroke!  The Urgent Care doctor prescribed meds and suggested I follow up with my regular doctor as soon as possible except that…I didn’t have one.  I hadn’t been to the doctor in years.  I’d avoided it because I was afraid of what they’d say.  I was still so sick and in so much pain.  I laid in bed the rest of the day and was awake and miserable all night.

On Tuesday, I went to the dentist and had to have the tooth that ached pulled.  Little did I know that you can’t have carbonation after having a tooth pulled so I wouldn’t be able to have any of my beloved Dr. Pepper until it was healed.  Friends, that was my only source of caffeine since I’m not a coffee or tea drinker.  The dentist did not prescribe pain meds and so I again spent the rest of that day and evening in bed but without rest.  There were lots of tears.  On a side note, I had to spend the entire tooth pulling procedure in a blood pressure cuff and heart monitor…that’s not fun.

By Wednesday, my mother and sister had had enough of my calling them in misery so Caitlan generously came down to go with me to my doctor’s appointment (I found one!) and to take care of me.  The doctor was very kind and sympathetic to my suffering writing prescriptions for the pain as well as for the not-sinus infection (probably flu but I was already on antibiotics so they didn’t test).  She also did an EKG to check my heart which was fine except for the extremely fast beating.  My blood pressure was also still high.  I finally slept on Wednesday because Caitlan dosed me.

She had to go back to work the next day so my mother came and switched places with her.  I finally started to eat (soft foods) again.  It had been days.  I ended up having to take the entire week off.  My mom went home on Sunday so she could could go back to work.  I did not bounce back that well.  It took a couple weeks to feel back to normal.

I revisited the doctor after getting well and it was evident from my blood work that I needed to make a change.  The scare of having to hear the symptoms of fatal diseases was jolting.  Since I’d had to stay off carbonation after the tooth pulling, I’d already gone through the caffeine withdrawals everyone is so afraid of.  I’d lost six pounds just from not drinking soda though I drank gatorade and juice which are still super high in sugar.

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I’d tried to lose weight before but never successfully.  I’d never put my heart into it.  This time, the jumpstart of losing weight due to going off soda helped.  I began using the app Lose-It! and set a goal to lose 85 pounds which would put me to my pre-Wayland weight.  Logging everything I ate was tedious but everyone who knows me knows how much I love data.  I began to see how many calories I was drinking so I lessened the sugary juices and drank the low calorie Gatorade and tried to drink more water.

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My team decided they wanted us to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarves for Halloween.  I was excited because my dress that had fit when I bought was now too big (though it doesn’t look it in the photo).  Even at just losing ten pounds, I felt more confident in my skin.  By December, people were starting to notice (yes the December photo is in a bathroom).

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It made me feel so good that people were taking notice of my hard work which made it easier to continue even when I wanted to cheat.  Not having caffeine didn’t bother me anymore.  I didn’t even miss it and stopped counting the days since my last drop of the nectar from Heaven.

The results didn’t happen super fast like some people because I wasn’t making many drastic changes all at once.  With every weight-loss, my calories in the Lose-It app dropped.  I’d evaluate what was working and what wasn’t.  I realized I could eat more food if it had less calories (for some people, that’s obvious).  I also realized that I could still enjoy the foods that I loved; I just didn’t need to eat an enormous portion.  Confession: I did gain five pounds back when we went to Vegas.  Even with all the walking, there was just so much deliciousness at every turn.  It’s hard to eat healthily on vacation.

Weightloss Journey Headers4I’m not saying my New Year’s resolution was to exercise but I did start exercising in January.  My apartment complex has a little gym which is literally one treadmill, one elliptical and some weights.  Nothing extraordinary.  I’ve never been a runner.  Even in junior high, the mile killed me.  I made a B in the Fitness class I took in college mostly because the 1.5 miles was a test grade and I couldn’t complete it.  My doctor had said I needed cardio exercise though to get my heart-rate down so I wanted to give it a go.  I went with the elliptical instead of the treadmill so there would be less pounding on my joints (I’ve been hard on my joints throughout the years).  The first day I ran one mile.  The second day I went, I ran two.  Then, three miles.  In January, I ran 17 miles total but I hated it.  Okay, strong word.  I didn’t HATE it but I didn’t think it was sustainable because I didn’t enjoy it at all.  I watched Netflix but even that was getting old.  I remembered how much I used to love to dance so I looked at studios around town and found Smash Dance.

Smash Dance Fitness

Smash Dance is a dance studio that offers classes in Zumba, HipHop Cardio, Toning, and MiXXed Fit with special event classes in styles such as AfroBeats, Vegas Showgirl Fitness, and Belly-Dancing.  Don’t ask me to Vegas Showgirl Dance or belly dance.  They offer a pay-by-the-class option or a membership with unlimited classes.  I went that route and joined at the end of January.  Click on the image above to check them out.

Exercise afforded me more energy as well as keeping the weight-loss on track.  I try not to eat any calories I burn from exercise but sometimes I dip into them.

I also started to need new clothes.  I’d had to buy the next size down in pants pretty quickly but had been wearing the same size shirt since before I’d started.  Since the beginning I’ve gone from a size 24 pants to a size 12 and from a size 4X shirt to an extra large.

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I’m not going to lie.  This journey has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Getting my college degree was not as hard as this has been.  I know I’m probably biased because food is my addiction but I think it is the hardest addiction because you have to eat.  With other addictions, you can avoid situations and people that are related to the addiction.  With food, it is a daily, no, hourly decision to keep going and to make healthy decisions in the midst of whatever is going on in your life.  Yesterday, I was invited to a birthday party and the cake looked absolutely amazing but I didn’t partake.  I looked at that cake for the entire party but I didn’t partake.  The night before though, I did and immediately regretted it.

The thing with weight-loss is also that there are other factors besides what and how much you eat.  Hormones, body processes, and stress all affect your body as well and I’m not immune to those effects.  I’ve hit plateaus but non-scale victories help keep me going.

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In March, I had the opportunity through church to take professional photos and Coco was invited.  Before this journey, I wouldn’t have bothered.  In fact, my headshot I used to use for everything was one from 2006 because I hadn’t taken a photo I like better since then.  Others are starting to notice the shift in confidence as well.  I don’t crouch or shrug to look smaller.  I stand taller.  In fact, I’ve gotten asked frequently if I’ve always been this tall.

My skin looks more radiant and skin issues that I’d had in the past have cleared up on their own.  My hair is healthier than ever before.  I can get up and down without creaking or struggling. I don’t stand in the back anymore trying to be invisible.  I don’t stand in the front either because, like I said, I’m tall and don’t want to block people’s view.  I don’t constantly worry that everyone is judging me.

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I also started dancing again.  It’s mostly Zumba but I did have the opportunity to co-choreograph and perform a routine for school.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed it.  My body still isn’t quite able to do everything it could all those years ago but it’s improving.  In fact, with my stretching class, I’m SO close to being able to do the splits again.

There have been unplanned and unintended side-effects as well.  I haven’t had a migraine since I was sick in September.  I was having them on a regular basis before then but this school year was almost migraine free.  I still have headaches but nothing like the require-the-dark-silence-with-my-check-pressed-against-the-cold-floor-misery that used to occur.

Another side-effect that took me by surprise was that people are nicer to you when you’re thinner.  I knew that people were judging me before and I knew that I was ashamed but I didn’t realize that people treated me so much differently before.  I’m seen now where before, even though I was bigger and took up more space, I was invisible.  Okay, maybe not invisible but ignored.   I’ve always been the funny friend and “talented” (even though I’m not a particular fan of that word) but I had to work harder to be noticed for those traits which I realize is in direct conflict with the wanting to be invisible.  It’s hard to explain but it’s real.

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The most recent non-scale victory has been buying clothes in the regular ladies department.  You also see I’m wearing more dresses (the aforementioned confidence).  Plus size departments are so lacking for the most part and frequently are not actually tailored to fit plus-sized bodies.  They’re just bigger clothes that end up making the buyer look like they’re wearing a garbage bag.  I had found Torrid (a mostly plus-size retailer for women) before this journey and most of my clothes are still from there because it’s a guarantee that the clothes will fit but I’ve gone from one end of their size spectrum to the other.  In fact, I’m one size away from the smallest size they offer.

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Confession: I really celebrated my sister’s birthday this past weekend with all the delicious food.  I did stay under my calories the entire time but I ate a lot of things I hadn’t been.  I was up most of the week but just kept on going with my plan and am back at it.  I’m still 20 pounds away from my goal weight (well, my goal-weight for now).

My biggest concern going into the summer is continuing my progress without a routine to stick to so I’m having to create my own routine.

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I joined a second gym (I know, it sounds crazy) but, although I love Smash Dance, it isn’t all-inclusive fitness-wise.  Plus, I’m moving and my new complex does not have even a tiny gym.  I chose LA Fitness because it is in walking distance to my new apartment and they have classes in the morning as well as the evening so I can do double duty for the summer at least.  We’ll see what happens come fall but for now, I’m keeping both memberships.  I also signed up for personal training which starts tomorrow. 🙂

Although I have worked out with weights before and on machines, I’m not well-versed in what I actually need to do and what is really best.  Plus, as mentioned earlier in this massively long post, I have some injuries that I need to be wary of.  Finally, while trying on clothes, I was made painfully aware of the loose skin problem that happens when you lose a significant amount of weight.  Although it is not possible to spot-reduce when losing weight, it is possible to select areas to tone.

I’m also keeping myself accountable.

Exercise track in useI had been tracking my exercise in the Notes App on my phone but decided to create this tracker and input the data.  The red squiggles are days I met my active calorie goal (according to my watch).  The green squiggles are days I met my exercise calorie goal (again, according to my watch).  The write-ins are legit work-outs.  I have completed May just not when I took this picture.  The 2018 data was all from my watch so I could compare.  You’ll notice that very few exercise days occurred comparatively.

Would you like an exercise tracker too?

Clicking the image below will take you to Google Drive where you can download the tracker for 2019 and 2020.

Free exercise tracker

As I said, there is more work to be done but I’m proud of the progress I’m making and am truly seeking a lifestyle change rather the start of a lifetime of yo-yoing back and forth.  I’ve been asked so frequently about what I’m doing and why that I decided to just write it all out and send people here.  As I stated above, this is hardest thing I’ve ever done and am continuing to do.  It has become my third job and now is the time to set realistic goals moving forward.

I mentioned earlier that I’m 20 pounds away from my first goal.  At my fitness assessment on Friday, I was ready to hear that I had another 70-100 pounds to lose to be in the normal weight bracket.  You can imagine my surprise when I was basically told that I’ll never weigh 120 pounds like people I’ve compared myself too.  That sounds harsh but I’m tall and I’m broad.  I’m built like a line-backer which I used to say jokingly but, it’s true.  I’ll never be a lanky twig.  According to the fitness assessment, even with 0% body fat, I’d weigh 135 pounds.  Do you know how relieving that is?  I mean, 0% body is obviously not feasible, healthy, or possible.  I don’t have to hit that or aim for it at all.  Reaching a “healthy” weight doesn’t seem as impossible anymore.

TL;DR – I’ve been counting calories for eight months and exercising for five months.  I’ve lost over 70 pounds.  It’s hard but worth it.

You made it until the end!

Thanks for reading!

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Music is a Language Poster Update

This is another poster that has gotten a facelift.  The original was part of the great data loss of 2015.  I lost an entire hard drive’s worth of designs, graphics, music, and more.  It was awful.  Luckily, I did have a lot backed up but not near what I lost.

Anyway, focus on happier times.

Since this poster was lost and was never posted in my store, it had to be remade from completed from scratch.  Now, it’s available for you in two handy sizes: 11 x 14 and 49 x 72 (yeah, that’s enormous).

Thanks for reading!

Rules Can Be a kaHOOT!

Okay, so I totally stole this idea from Alison Cabello.  Here is her blog post about her Kahoot rules:

I’ve done rules several different ways.  I’ve sung the rules. I’ve done rules using memes.  I’ve even done a Jeopardy style version of the rules.  I use Mr. Potato Head with the Pre-K babies.  I understand the importance of rules, however, the majority of my students (even being on a military base) come back the next year.  I don’t have the same students for several years in a row but, on average, students stay for about three years or so.  Of course, there are exceptions to that but the majority of the students I had in May will still be here in August so most of my students already know me and my expectations.  Plus, because I see my students only once a week and students are constantly coming and going, we go over expectations having to do with different aspects of the class on a regular basis.

My little ones will still do their eyes and ears active listening rules and my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders will still sing the Rules of Music as before but my 4th and 5th graders get a new Rules lesson this year (insert sly smile).

If you don’t know how to use Kahoot, I have a post about it HERE.  The kids absolutely love it.

Presenting, in no particular order (because the questions are randomized)…

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By the way, we’re totally going to go over these questions and the correct answers as a class so no one will actually think the right answer is to interrupt class to yell and scream about it.  Remember, this is only for my upper elem grades.  I’d never do this with 1st graders.


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This is a biggie for me across all the grade levels.  I won’t deny a student access to the restroom but I will ask if they can wait.  Usually, I’ll say something to the effect of “Can you wait four minutes?” just so they won’t miss the direct instruction and go during a transition.  More often than not, the student can wait.  This is not so much an issue with the older grades as it is with the younger ones who hear the word “restroom” and suddenly have a domino effect emergency.  Luckily, the classroom teachers are really good about giving students opportunities to use the restroom BEFORE specials and they let me know in front of their students that everyone had an opportunity.  That usually quells the urge.

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They are probably going to think “Have fun” is the answer.  It’s not.

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We review this statement EVERY TIME we use instruments of any kind in my classroom. “If you play before I say, it’s going to be taken away.”  Even the Pre-K babies know this statement.  The urge is there and, sometimes, it’s too much.  Students who lose their instruments have to air-play to earn it back.  It’s never very long because the goal is for students to participate but it works.


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I think I explained this above.


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I’m hoping this one is obvious.


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Same meme; different question.  This kind of goes with the “Ask three before me.”  I frequently write the directions down as well especially if they are multi-step.


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I am the mean teacher who does not give every student an E for Excellent in music.  E for Excellent is the highest score on a E, S, N, U scale.  If students refuse to participate for whatever reason, they do earn an E for Excellent.  I know, Mean Miss Coffey…giving each student the grade they earn rather than using the auto-grade feature.  Confession: sometimes I make life harder on myself.

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Again, I hope this is obvious.  I don’t think students are legit thinking “He, he, he…I’m being disrespectful to school property…he, he, he.  I don’t think they think about the consequences and implications of their graffiti doodles.  Some even say, “I love music.”  Still not okay, friends.

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“Miss Coffey, we only two minutes left of music.”


“And, shouldn’t we be lining up?”

“Nope, we have one minute and 30 seconds until we need to line up.  I’d rather be doing something fun that waiting in a line.”

I only have 40 minutes once a week.  I’m going to use all 40 minutes.

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The answer is “by climbing them like stairs” in case it isn’t obvious.

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I mentioned this above.  I hope the get the obviousness of this one with the meme.

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#SorryNotSorry again for caring that students are in music when they are supposed to be in music.


I hope you enjoyed my meme Kahoot rules and I hope my students like them as well.  Like I said above, we’re totes going to go over these and the serious meaning of each.  I just want to start the year like we ended it in May: musical and fun.

Thanks for reading!

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Not Quite Anchor Charts – Update

I have updated these posters yet again.  Here are the originals:

Music Vocabulary Posters Cover

I decided they need a facelift and also could match each other better.  Posters are priced at $2 each OR $12.95 for all ten (saving you 35%).  The posters in this facelift also come in two different sizes for your convenience and, guess what?  If you already bought the original set, you get this set absolutely free.

After logging in to your Teachers Pay Teacher account, hover over your name so the below pops up.  Click on “My Purchases.”

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In the sort option box, select “Recently Updated” and the files will appear.  Remember, this is only if you purchase them already and are just getting the update.

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I hope everyone is ready for back to school!

Thanks for reading!

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