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Working those workouts

Monday, May 21, 2012

Last night got a bit too late getting caught up on statuses and SparkFriend's blogs, so I didn't get this written earlier. I've been thinking lately about how different my workouts are than I originally had planned and how much I'm enjoying them.

It's funny because it doesn't really feel like all that much when I'm doing it routinely, but whenever I go to mention the gym to others, it sounds like a lot more. I'm also not "consistent" in the sense of always doing the same things. If I can't do my ST on a scheduled day, I just shift it a day later, keeping them alternating days, then get it back on the normal day the next week. With my cardio only days, at least two are "push" days and up to two are "rest" days.

On push days I try to really challenge myself. I might try a minute of a much higher level or five minutes of the next level up, I might go a full 60 minutes. I might increase my strides per minute. On rest days I keep it low and steady, enough to keep my heart-rate above the 60% point, but relaxed. Which days are which is really dependent on how I feel as I get going.


Here's my week in workouts:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Cardio - 30 minutes
ST (weights) - 60+ minutes
Cardio - 15+ minutes
Cooldown - 5 minutes
Crunches - 10 minutes
Stretches - 10-15 minutes

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday
Cardio - 40+ minutes
Cooldown - 5 minutes
Stretches - 10-15 minutes

*Cardio* can be treadmill, recumbent bike, stationary bike (rare), straight elliptical, or elliptical with incline. Treadmill is usually faster than 17 min/mile, sometimes with 5% incline. Recumbent bike is mostly about upping the level of resistance. Ditto for stationary bike, but I use that rarely as posture and seat just don't jive for me well. Straight elliptical is one I don't use much any more - more than 20 minutes usually has my feet tingling - but it's good for some quick cardio to really get my heart going. Elliptical with incline has become my favorite, but I swap around regularly just so I don't get too efficient on any one machine.

The gym has four other cardio machines I have not tried yet. There's the rower. Just one, which amuses me because some twenty years ago the gym I belonged to had an entire line of them and with much more sophisticated monitors. Ah, how things change. There's the ergometer. I think that's the name. It's the hand-bike machine - this one with an adjustable seat for position. There's a variant on the recumbent bike with moving arms similar to the straight elliptical. I had tried that once, but the heart-rate monitor on it wasn't working, so I gave up at the time. And there's the stair-masters. Those look seriously daunting, but at some point I'll probably get on one for the glute workout. Probably when I'm much more sure of my knees.

*Cooldown* is on the same machine, just slowing down, lowering intensity, getting my heartrate back down. Not counted time, but I also do sometimes walk around to my next activity by the long route - sometimes looping an area slowly.

*Strength Training (ST)* involves a variety of the weight machines. This is the big reason I ultimately went for a gym membership. Buying dumbbells was an original thought, but in the long run I would have more clutter in my room as I had to graduate to heavier ones. (And I'm lousy at reselling stuff, so it would collect dust until I dropped it in a dumpster - what a waste.) I discovered that I could pay two years in advance, have the membership fee waived, and the per month cost lower, so the price was quite right.

I've developed my own full-body routine by trying to pick one exercise per major muscle. Originally I started with 15 reps as the routine on SP defaulted to 12-15. The brand of machines I like using the most said 10-12 reps. Trying to research, I didn't really find anything definitive saying some number of reps made more sense, so I've stuck with up to 12 reps in 3 sets.

The "up to" has to do with graduating to a new weight amount. When I can do all 3 sets of 12 reps and feel like I could probably move right into another set without much trouble, I go up in weight. Sometimes that means I only manage 6-8 reps in a set. I just do as many as I can. Over time I build back up to doing 12 with some effort and eventually 12 with relative ease.

(More on what exercises after this.)

*Crunches* are mixed in with my stretches. I also do ab machines during the strength training, but add these in because I like the extra core work. I do 3 sets of 15 crunches with my legs up on a stability ball as well as 2 sets of 10-12 obliques - either rolling the ball left and right or doing crunches where I lift left and right.

*Stretches* are something I will not short-change or skip. I credit a lot of the improvement in my foot to learning good stretches for calves and achilles tendon. I usually start with most of the leg stretches, then do my crunches, then do the arm and core stretches. (In fact, I need to see if there are more arm stretches that might be helpful to me.) By the time I finish this whole routine, I usually have a lot of energy and skip up the stairs to the locker room.

Weight Machines:

Seated Bench Press (Pectorals - chest)
Shoulder Press or Lat Machine (Deltoids - shoulders)
Lat Pulldown (Latissimus Dorsi - I call it upper back)
Arm Curls (Biceps)
Arm Extensions (Triceps)
Seated Leg Press (Quads)
Prone Leg Curl (Hamstrings)
Standing Calf Raise (Calves)
Glutes ( =P Butt)
Hip Abductor (Front - Knee Lift)
Thigh Abductors (Inner and Outer Thigh)
Lower Back
Ab Machine
Seated Leg Tuck (Abdominals, does good getting the lower area)

I do swap around a little on which machine I use, with more focus on making sure I target each muscle. I'm thinking to work into the free weight area before the end of the year for at least some things, but will probably pay for a couple of Personal Trainer sessions when I feel ready for that. I'm defining ready as the point I feel I have enough basic strength in both the muscles and the surrounding bones, ligaments, and tendons, to have the control necessary for good form. Weight machines have the benefit that most can force correct form to some degree.

Weights are a fun area in which to really see progress, particularly as I up the weight amount or even just feeling certain ones become easier. The only "annoyance" is that different machines for the same muscle can make a lot of difference in the weight I can lift, so I can't easily compare some.

For example, when I started out, I was doing 15 pounds on biceps and triceps. I got up to 25 pounds on biceps (easy) and 20 pounds on triceps (with a little struggle). Then I switched machines, and on the new machines I can do 35-40 on triceps, but am slowly struggling back to getting 25 on biceps. I know I'm making progress, but it's not a nice linear graph.

Others are more obvious. When I first did the seated leg press, I could only manage about 75 pounds and my knees were cautious at best. The last few times I've done 135 pounds and was still able to do a single set of 5 lunges on each side later (just before stretches) with minimal knee trouble. Similarly, my hamstrings started at 25 pounds and are now at 50 pounds.


When I first started out on SparkPeople, I was mostly walking and doing a list of about 6-8 strength training exercises that I could do at home with body weight only. A few months later I started adding some ankle and wrist weights I had from the past and had done some 5k races. I joined the gym in mid-January and don't regret it one bit because it fits my style of working out.

Long-term I'm not entirely sure what my plan will be. I did pay for 2 years at the gym (in advance avoided the membership fee and gave me a deal I'm happy with), so I know I'll be there until January 2014 for sure. Given that this isn't my first gym membership and I like the routine of it, it may very well last longer. Far better for me than equipment I have to haul around and the variety available ensures I'm not getting into a fitness rut.

I should also mention what the above workout doesn't reflect - a general level of activity the rest of the time. I use public transit - no car. Weekly that means I buy groceries and tote them home. I've weighed myself carrying that and it runs from 30-50 pounds. Weekly I do my laundry which involves carrying the bag of clothes and detergent to the bus stop, from the bus stop to the laundromat, and back home after. That usually weighs around 25-30 pounds. Every workday I carry my gym bag which has 1-2 liters of water, sneakers, and clothes. On Monday morning it also holds the groceries I take to work for the week. Sometimes I don't have to walk very far from the bus stops, a block or so. Other times I miss a bus or take a different transfer and have to walk about 3/4-mile. On Friday I usually head to the bank, which is another 1/2 mile each way of walking. When I go shopping at the Great Mall, there's 2 flights of stairs each way and at least a mile or two of walking. And I still love to walk. See me close to getting bored on a weekend with the weather too nice to sit and read, and I'll just head to the park for a walk.

In other words, I move a lot. They're not workouts, they're not at all focused on fitness. But they are regular parts of my day. I honestly believe a lot of my success thus far comes from not limiting my vision to workouts and meal plans. A healthy life isn't just the 10 minutes or 40 minutes assigned to a workout and the 15-30 minutes of each meal. It is 24 hours of the day. Nor is healthy only physical; it is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Choices I make including what time I go to sleep (*COUGH* er ... definitely not great choices there), how much energy I put into cleaning, using stairs rather than elevators, what I do to fill free time, even who I spend my time with -- all of that has a bearing on how healthy my life is for me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MICHELLE_391 5/28/2012 6:21PM

    You do all this? I am deeply humbled in your presence and feel a sudden urge to compare myself to you. I'm totally NOT allowed to do that though. So instead, I'm going to be inspired to do more, and just be really IMPRESSED by all you do.

I'm also a non-car owner who has to do everything on foot/bike/public transport, and I don't count these activities as part of my daily exercise log. I see all this activity as a part of my base fitness level. But you're right. Sometimes it really does the mind some good to stop and think about all the things you do with your body in a day.


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WOMANOBRONZE 5/27/2012 1:30PM

    Great post!! I like how you've taking a holistic approach to your conditioning by taking advantage of the opportunities outside the gym to maintain what's become an enviable level of fitness. Great attitude, too. I'm the type to complain whenever I have to schlep a heavy bag of groceries around!


Just one word of warning - serious runners generally do not incorporate ankle weights in their training routines due to the high risk of knee damage. The extra weight - while stressful - doesn't do that much more than make the workout hurt a bit more. The additional calorie burn is low, and the stress of carrying more weight on the ankles mostly stresses the ligaments in the knee without targeting or building any particular group of muscles above the knees that much. So runners generally consider ankle weights to be much like those rubber suits you also still see sold at the sporting goods stores - use at your own risk!

Wrist weights, however, are used with few relatively few injury reports, and are favored by runners who worry about their lack of upper body fitness.

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    Excellent stuff. :) You go girl!

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MNJONES2 5/23/2012 11:41AM

    Did I mention you put me to shame? Better get my rear in gear today!

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MNJONES2 5/23/2012 12:03AM

    Holy Moly!w! You really work and i mean WORK!! Okay you movtivated me to get back at the workouts with more heart and more intention. THANK YOU!

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ROXYZMOM 5/22/2012 9:05PM

    Sounds like you have a great plan going, I like the variation so you don't get bored. I agree with meal planning, that has definitely made a big difference with keeping my weight loss in check. I think this site helps tremendously, I love all the tools and my Sparkbuddies.


Thanks for sharing!

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BENCGDL 5/22/2012 2:41PM

    Impressive!!! You are amazing!
emoticon emoticon

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-SONIA- 5/22/2012 7:36AM

    WooHoo! Keep up that momentum! emoticon

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TALENKARR1 5/22/2012 5:51AM

    Very cool chicka most people don't relize how much walking you erradnds and not driving them are good for you. I live real close to my gorcery store and I walk to and from them I try to even out the weight and use them as dumbell curls. you rack!

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RG_DFW 5/22/2012 5:42AM


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BERKCHIK 5/22/2012 5:14AM

    WoW! You've got it D-O-W-N-! I'm constantly impressed, shocked and intimidated by your level of commitment. Thanks for showing some of us how it can be done!

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NEWMOM20121 5/21/2012 11:22PM

    Thank you for sharing. I have told a number of people lately, I am making this work for me. Clearly you have found something that works for you. Great job.

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TIFFY0906 5/21/2012 9:46PM

    Good workout regimen. You are right this isn't just about losing weight but improving in every area of your life - good job.

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FRANCES-AGAPE 5/21/2012 8:55PM


Your various exercises and activities

No wonder you're doing so emoticon

You have just encouraged me
to take my exercise up a notch too

emoticon WE can do it!


emoticon emoticon

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SASSYLJB 5/21/2012 8:55PM

    All I can say is WOW! You gave me an exercise just reading about all that you do!
Truly incredible! Keep up the fantastic work!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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POETLKNG2LOSE 5/21/2012 8:28PM

    You are an inspiration to us all. Wow! You are lifting more than i am! I am still mostly at 5 pounds yet gradually building up to 10. I am not sure i could carry groceries around like that or clothes. My back probably wouldn't take it. I usually have cardio 6 days a week; and strength 6 too. Great job!

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DIRTYBUNNY 5/21/2012 8:11PM

    Regardless of how I don't feel like getting up and going to the gym (and this happens with a fair amount of frequency) I HAVE NEVER regretted going by the end of my workout. I do upper body on Mondays, abs on Wednesdays and legs and lower body on Fridays. I do cardio on all days, with a little bump up in the activity on Tuesdays and Thursdays. No activity for Sundays, if God could take a rest, so can I. I've been tempted to keep going on some days when the workout is going great, but I learned the hard way to just tax one third of my body at a time. That allows for adequate rest and rebuilding and I don't get so sore that I don't go back. Every 3 weeks, SOMETHING changes in the routine. I look at whatever I'm able to do the most comfortably and that's the one I ramp up then. I find going and doing my thing at the gym to be a real mood elevator, as well.

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TANYA602 5/21/2012 8:10PM

    You are officially a "gym rat"! Congratulations on mixing it up, keeping it fresh, and finding your strength in so many arenas. I miss the weight room, but am content for now with the equipment I have at home.

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ERINMARIE424 5/21/2012 8:08PM

    Wow! Go You! Very Impressive!

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LGAR519 5/21/2012 7:44PM

    I'm impressed by what you do before you ever get to the gym. Wore me out just reading!!

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SBNORMAL 5/21/2012 7:07PM

  I was wore out from reading the list of things. You are doing great!! Hauling groceries from the bus and back home is a workout.

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TARAH85 5/21/2012 6:58PM

    I like what you said about how seemingly menial chores or working out can affect us in positive ways.

When I first started SP, I got a gym membership too. Unfortunately, we didn't renew it when we moved because the distance was too far. But it was great while it lasted, and maybe when I get a job we'll get another membership!

Keep up the great work!


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KENTUCKYGIRL01 5/21/2012 6:49PM

    You are doing a fantastic job ! I am so proud of you!! emoticon emoticon
I look forward to seeing picture's of the new you !!! emoticon emoticon
All your work is paying off !!!! emoticon emoticon
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FUCHSIAGAL 5/21/2012 6:09PM

  Good for you! You're doing an awesome job as evidenced by your success. What you're doing is working for you, so keep on doing it!

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KARL1266 5/21/2012 6:06PM

    Thank you for sharing your gym "routines" with us. It's people like you that give me the inspiration to continue when things are slow for me. I just wish there was a gym nearby for me to join. I, too, dread buying free weights as I will just have to get rid of them or give them away as I increase weights. If I paid for a membership, then the frugal side of me would come out and I would use it to get the most out of my investment.

Thanks again for sharing this.

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BEVERLY1983 5/21/2012 5:37PM

    I agree with you about your exercise may not seem like a lot until you tell someone else what you do. I was asked last night what I do and when I start explaining it there eyes just seem overwhelmed. Your doing a great job. Too bad you don't live closer so we could be work out buddy's.

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KSCHRAUT 5/21/2012 5:23PM

    Your determination is really marvelous to see! I need t get my motivation back doing, way to go!

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AMYTRIPP 5/21/2012 5:13PM

    Wow! I am so impressed by all you do! No wonder you're having such success.

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Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts

Mini-ugh and shopping fun

Sunday, May 20, 2012

So, the mini-ugh first.

Without getting into all the details, BFE (bestest friend ever) and his recent love-of-his-life are having troubles. Problem is ... if they're fighting and not talking, he turns to me both because he's bored and wants someone to talk to (oh, I feel special now) and because he wants someone to complain and rant to and get commiseration from (whoops ... I don't pick sides).

Which means what little conversation we had this evening ended with him logging off.

What little conversation we had before this latest fight of theirs involved his plans for an outing in which I am supposed to go to a bar with them, all of us drink, all of us get drunk, and call that having fun.

Sadly, this even predates her, but it is becoming more noticeable. We're really close friends in some ways, but far too often he just blithely ignores things I consider part of me. It has to be the worst thing for one of my inner demons - the sense that I keep up so many masks that I never let anyone close enough to really see me.

When you look at me
What do you see?
Do you see me
Or do you only see what I want you to see?

I wrote that many many years ago, long before I'd met him. But it's a recurring theme in my life that even with the people who know me best, they still don't really REALLY know me that thoroughly.


We'll get through it. We've certainly been through a lot already. For now it's just an annoying "UGH" in my life.


Shopping fun? What? Who am I? Okay, okay. So not exactly fun in that sense, but I did get a nice compliment.

Picked up a couple more casual shirts, a couple more workout shirts and pants, and bras.

Ah, back to Lane Bryant to buy more bras. emoticon

As expected, my cup size ain't goin' nowhere, but my band size is down another 3 inches. Yeesh. (VERY annoying too. Only some of their styles go this low in band size. And stores that carry the smaller band size almost never carry the cup size. So fairly soon I am likely to be forced to head online in a hunt for good fits.)

So, you know how quite a few stores offer a discount if you apply for (or are accepted for) one of their store cards? I have not had one approve me in years because I had a delinquent student loan from the late 80s in garnishment and my employer was way late on payments. The garnishment stopped in September 2011, my final payment went to them in March 2012. I figured I'd still get turned down.


Approved. For just barely enough to cover my purchases that day after the discounts. Amazing. Of course, I immediately paid the balance on the card while there, too. It's not like I actually planned for or expected to be approved. But it is a very good thing. Why? To rebuild my credit requires having credit. It may be a minor store card, but that's more than having nothing but the student loan show for the next seven years.

So, in talking to the cashier after the approval, I said something to the effect of how I wished their shirts and pants appealed to me more. She just boggled at me and said she didn't even think they had anything small enough for me to wear. I laughed and told her I'd been in 26/28 back in September, and what I had on were 16s from Torrid, but thank you!


So, two parts fun out of that shopping trip.

It was also a reminder that I am wearing XL from normal stores for my workout clothes and the shirts. (Though I do have to be picky about shirts. An XL with buttons down the front will NOT work, nor will an XL in a fabric with no stretch or give in the chest. Oy.) I'm comfortably in 16s from Torrid. One more size down is 14s ... and that actually means back to normal stores for everything but bras. *BOGGLES*


I was going to make it part of this blog, but deciding to write about it tomorrow. Working those workouts. I've been thinking about my mindset about workouts and want to write out what I do, compare back to pre-gym and when I first started at the gym. So tomorrow sometime I'll do that.

In the meantime, I will mention this. Memorial Day (US) is coming up. My gym has flyers up that they'll only be open 8am to 2pm that day. I happen to think I'll be working normal business hours.

Does that derail me? Not at all.

I immediately thought about my options. I could put in a request to take the day off, whether paid or unpaid. Nah, that's being silly. It's sunny later into the evening and my foot has been fine with 5ks on the treadmill. I can go walk the creek trail after work. Then I thought about my roller blades tucked away in a drawer and the fact I still haven't gone ice-skating and the skates are sitting in my room. I have PLENTY of options.

I never once thought of it as a day I wouldn't be able to do a workout. I simply redirected my thoughts and energy toward finding alternative solutions.

I just need to apply that "just do it" mentality to certain other areas in my life (non-food/fitness areas).


Oh, and I will end with a link to a SparkFriend's blog that I just loved reading today. It fits into the idea of redirecting thoughts and energy, though in her case it's about stressful moments:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ALIDOSHA 10/24/2012 5:27PM


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    That does sound like a fun shopping trip. Isn't it nice to get a compliment like that? I'm trying harder to voice compliments. It's important for us to support each other.

And congrats on your workout attitude. It's so easy to skip it instead of finding an alternative. And what fun ideas you came up with! Who needs a gym every day, anyway?

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JEANNINEMM68 5/28/2012 3:14PM

    I often wonder if people (friends & family) would be there for me like I am there for them? It is very hard to be the giver in a relationship and never get what you need in return. Way to go with the shopping success.

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QUASIOR 5/26/2012 9:21AM

    Having the opposite problem too with bras.

Wow, glad you've dropped another size!! emoticon emoticon

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RUNNER12COM 5/26/2012 12:15AM

    Tough to constantly be on the receiving end of a needy person, isn't it?

Hang in there!

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MARYM1962 5/25/2012 11:32AM

  well my bra problem is the opposite - if I get a band big enough (I am only a 38) then the C is too big, but the B is too small! - do I hang out, or do I have gaping material? I switched to sports bras all the time, so I don't worry about it anymore. (even though they don't work well with dressy clothes).
I am also in 16's going to 14's and remember my X days - so good to be able to get in clothes that fit instead of clothes that "drape"!

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SERAPHGYRL 5/24/2012 11:59AM

    I love your blog. I have to smile when thinking about the bra dilemma because I've got it too. You should be so proud of your weight loss. YAY you! You BFE sounds like most guys. They're just kind of oblivious to we woman's thoughts and feelings. They just know we're their friends, we love them, and we listen to them. What can we do? :-p

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LOVEMYBIRDIES 5/24/2012 1:01AM

    Wow, having fun shopping for clothes?! So jealous! I hope to be there one day soon! Congrats! emoticon

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SWEETSUGAR7 5/23/2012 6:59PM

    I would keep working on your journey with your work out and the food you eat.

Well your friends have drama and sometimes it is good to just step back some and be busy and let them work it out.

Or meet them separately. I don't know about meeting your guy friend alone. He seems to only want you around when he needs to fill a void. Next he could start hitting on you for comfort. Doesn't sound like a great friend.

Going out eating to much and drinking doesn't sound like a great night. A nice sit down dinner and a drink maybe suitable.

Keep focused and take care of you. That is totally awesome you are about a 14. What a great feeling that is.. I would be excited


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IRONBLOSSOM 5/23/2012 5:45PM

    Thanks, I needed this motivation today! I feel like I've been losing the same 5 lbs for a month!

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KIPPER15 5/23/2012 3:30PM

    Going down in size sure makes shopping fun. emoticon

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KEEPITSIMPLE_ 5/23/2012 1:12PM

    Good for you! Great job on all of your successes so far. You must feel great in your 16's. That's what I am in now, and I'm ecstatic about it. This was my goal, but a 14 is closing in, even though I'm not losing, but still changing. I'm having the same problem in the bra area and the button down shirts, etc. I thought about searching for upper body exercises that might help, but in the past whenever I lost weight, I lost in the bust too.

Great blog, keep up the wonderful job you are doing. Congrats on the credit re-build, and good luck with your BFE. I'm glad he isn't getting you to follow! You sound determined.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SDORTON2 5/23/2012 8:35AM

  Keep after your goals! You have come a long way!

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FLY0NTHEWAL1 5/22/2012 11:14PM

    I've a fairly large difference in band:bust size also so I am going to give you my extremely unsolicited advice: I HIGHLY recommend or I haven't bought a bra in an actual store in about 5 years.

Otherwise, so glad you are having an overall good day. : )

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SEATTLE58 5/22/2012 11:13PM

    Loved your blog. You really are a good writer and full of inspiration too! Thanks!!

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JEANETTECURRY 5/22/2012 9:11PM

    Keep up the good work. Torrid has some cute clothes. Dont know where you live but I find some really cute things at Marshalls and TJ Max in Women sizes.

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WHITEANGEL4 5/22/2012 7:46PM

    Congratulations on lossing the weight. It is a long hard struggle at my house. But I am so excited with a drop a clothing size

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ANYVAR54 5/22/2012 5:54PM

    Glad you can now start building your credit. Very important. Congratulations!

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    Great blog

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SJKENT1 5/22/2012 4:46PM

    Love those good days!!

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POLSKARENIA 5/22/2012 2:55PM

    Excellent blog - thought-provoking and inspirational!!

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THISTIMEMYWAY 5/22/2012 2:15PM

    I sometimes feel that no one really knows me also.

It is good that you don't take side and that you state what you believe because otherwise, you would not be a good friend. My husband I are pretty blunt with each other and sometimes it's heated but that's life. If we were both to shut up and not say anything about anything that is bothering us, we would end up divorced!
Good for you for standing up for yourself!
Great job on the weight loss :) and being able to wear smaller clothes. Meet you there soon ;)

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LAURENBNJ 5/22/2012 1:13PM

    Good job on losing so much weight. It must be exciting seeing that you can go shopping in "normal" stores soon!

Good ideas for alternative workouts, too. You can't let the gym closing early stop you from meeting your goals.

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JERZEYFRESH 5/22/2012 10:06AM

    I appreciated you sharing your thoughts on whether people really know you. I often feel that I keep up too many walls. It's oddly comforting to know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Congrats on the little shopping scores! They are the moments that keep us motivated.

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CGHARNER 5/22/2012 9:51AM

  for the guy who "leans" on you when his other relationship is going bad -
the guy who ignores big pieces of who you are and who you want to be?
Do you really need him in your life?
Aren't you worth more than just the crumbs he is giving you?
I could be all wrong, but it sounds like you have your life on track and together.
I don't write in blogs and I don't usually give unsolicited advice - but you sound so very much like me, I just let those times he ignored pieces of me, and wrote it off as just part of life.
10 years later I woke up, and finally stepped out of what had GROWN into a terribly abusive relationship which had turned into a marriage.
By letting him ignore pieces of me I was allowing him to go a step further each time - until he had taken just about every freedom and individuality of myself.
I am a strong person and there were no physical bruises, just mental, financial and emotional abuse.
So, I ask you to look at what you are giving away when people ignore who you are, OR who you want to be. Really look at what you hiding and see if it is worth it.

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ALEXANDRIA2007 5/22/2012 9:30AM

    Way to go! Bras are and can be a nightmare!

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HONEYKISSES1313 5/22/2012 8:24AM

    keep going

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AJB121299 5/22/2012 7:54AM

    keep it up

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JLEMUS1 5/22/2012 7:20AM


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CAROLZ1967 5/22/2012 7:20AM

    Those little comments/compliments really add up and go a long way to boost our mood and hopefully our confidence and self-esteem too! Soak them've earned them!! :-)

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COURTNEYO5 5/22/2012 6:37AM

    Awesome blog..keep up the great work! Hope to meet u one day in the 150s.. emoticon

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LEANMEAN2 5/22/2012 6:27AM

    Good for you.

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GRNBTL 5/22/2012 5:31AM

  keep trying!

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TALENKARR1 5/22/2012 4:12AM

    fredricka of hollywood has a great selection! they size to fit large and tiny girls. and all the weird shapes in betwwenplus there very pretty and don't look like the "grandma" bras most size ten and up are used to. and lets face it putting something pretty on can make us feel like a millon bucks

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KK10TM 5/22/2012 3:25AM

    So glad you shared this. It's definitely inspiring. Congratulations!

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JENNCABA 5/22/2012 2:09AM

    You are doing emoticon emoticon

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BLUEJEAN99 5/22/2012 1:58AM


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PURPLEBABYBEE 5/22/2012 1:15AM

    emoticon emoticon

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MISSY455 5/22/2012 12:30AM

    emoticon results since September! You are doing emoticon
Amazing how the fitness routine just becomes habit, and you find a way of making it work.

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SUPERSYLPH 5/22/2012 12:13AM

    It's always nice to get a compliment. emoticon

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ROSEMARDORF 5/22/2012 12:02AM

  You are doing great! I wouldn't consider going to a bar fun either!! I have a terrible time
finding Bra's also. The clerk @ Lane Bryant Could use a good lesson in customer service!! I found Breezies Bra's @; and I love them. I need an underwire and
Qvc has them. Good support without hurting. A Mother and daughter"s designed these
Bra's. Maybe you would like to give them a try. Just a suggestion emoticon.
Have a great day! I enjoyed your blog! emoticon emoticon

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CHOOSE2BELIEVE 5/21/2012 11:20PM

    Awesome job!! Keep up the hard work!! emoticon

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SUSIEMT 5/21/2012 11:10PM

    It sounds like you are on the right track! Keep up the good work!
About the Ugh part of your day. Maybe you need to show yourself to certain people. You just need to pick the right person to show yourself to. Good Luck with that!

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SPARKFRAN514 5/21/2012 11:02PM

    Don't let the ugh get you down you have come so far . the shopping trips become fun when we start looking for smaller sizes and as for Bras i have yet to find that is comfortable and fits properly. sounds like you have visited the finical Spark site pay the card ASP your on you way now.. what a unkind thing for her to say good for for telling you far you come i might have gone back and returned what i had had just bought with an un kind remark like that . i like that you have plan in place to get your work out in .
Great blog and as always you give us a lot to think about as we travel along the spark journey. Your weight loss is very inspiring and you can really see the changes you have experience Keep up the good job. emoticon

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JAMER123 5/21/2012 10:59PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon on your weight loss.
I am still working to get to an 18 but hoping it will be this summer!!
Keep going and you will reach your goals and be able to fit into the proper clothing:):)

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CLAYARTIST 5/21/2012 9:28PM


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KBRADFORD88 5/21/2012 7:45PM

    Great thoughts. Take it from a busty DDD with a 36 band try the outlets. Hanes stores carry my size and of course on-line. But I got to try these on. Way to go on the clothes department. Be brave you can tell the people you care about what matters to you. You are worth it.

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DAHLEEA 5/21/2012 7:40PM

    If you have to start buying your bras online is a great site. They have bras in a wide range of cup and band sizes. I have large breasts and a large cup size and often have trouble shopping in stores for a proper fitting bra.

Great job on your weight loss!

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KLMINDA 5/21/2012 5:47PM

    I'm so very glad to see that you don't consider going to a bar and getting drunk as fun. I had to give up my friends who didn't grow up and still thought getting drunk was fun. I only wish my son had done the same, perhaps he'd still be alive today..........I think you've outgrown your friend. Let go and move on. You deserve better for yourself. Think about it.................

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ANNESYLVIA 5/21/2012 4:31PM

    Oh boy, I am usually the friend that rambles on either with fun stories or rants of life rough! Be kind.

As for that sales lady...What a B@#%h! Best of luck with the twins!

My gym did not mention different hours just that there would be no classes. But come to think of it they probably will have shorter hours they do for the other ones. Thanks for the reminder.


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Adding the pictures

Friday, May 18, 2012

Moving right along, my eighth month of healthier living sees me at 191.5 pounds. Having started at 250.5 pounds, that is 59 pounds (as I called it in my previous blog - on the cusp of 60 pounds). Pretty crazy to realize my original goal of 160 pounds is only 31.5 pounds away. That means I'm coming right up on being about 2/3rds done with that small part of getting fit.

I've posted it on my SparkPage as per usual, but here's the comparison:
Tonight at 191.5 pounds

Starting at 250.5 pounds

I remember how those first few months it was soooooo hard to see any change, but now it's hard to find much that has stayed the same.

And having talked about my weights in many years past - here's a few oldies:

This is me at 16 or 17. I'd won a free portrait at the county fair. The curl in my hair is the remnants of one of my step-mother's perm attacks, mostly grown out.

This is me at 22 with my DS (maybe a month or so?) I guess it's not really visible, but the jumpsuit I have on was pre-maternity and looks loose on me there.

A few years later. Yes, he's quite the handsome little fellow. Again, not easy to tell due to my position, but this is my chubby (165-170) range.

And one at my higher weights (185, perhaps). The key thing I remember was my neck getting to the point the smaller necklaces acted like chokers. I'm definitely not comfortable here, but it had little to do with my weight. Instead, the dress and such had me feeling "matronly" and I was in my mid-20s.

I honestly have no idea if I even have pictures of me during the majority of the time I deliberately gained. I never was comfortable in pictures, even when I was scrawny from growing inches overnight it seemed. The portrait above is one of the rare times I really liked the look in a picture, and even now looking at it, I notice things like the lipstick color not going with my skin instead of me. (Hehe, well I do still get a kick out of my crooked smile. Try as I might, my lips lift different on each side, more on the right.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DJHARLEYQ 5/27/2012 3:30PM

    You can totally see the inches lost! Awesome job and it was fun seeing what you looked liked in the past.

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REDCHAIR 5/19/2012 6:17PM

    Awesome you are almost there. What a great feeling! This blog is really inspiring.

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ROXONA 5/19/2012 10:37AM

    You're pictures are lovely. Thanks for sharing them with us. Get ready to kiss the 190's goodbye!

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-SONIA- 5/19/2012 7:34AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
Just one more pound 'til the 60 Pounds Lost Trophy!
It's so much fun to get a new trophy!!!! emoticon
You're kicking butt!! emoticon

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KATYFUHR 5/19/2012 6:49AM

    The pictures are amazing! And you are wonderful for sharing them, they are truly inspiring. Thank you!

Have a great weekend.


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SPARKFRAN514 5/18/2012 11:31PM

    emoticon so close to telling the 190"s good bye
you look so good and the trip down memory lane how fun you will need to have family photo done . we all need to to do pictures as we make our way to the finish line. have a great week end emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ERINMARIE424 5/18/2012 11:04PM

    WOW! What a difference! I don't have very many pictures of me from the past five years either, I felt so badly about the weight I had gained that I didn't like to have any taken. But that seems to be changing for both of us!

(I have plenty of perm attack pictures too! LOL)

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SABLENESS 5/18/2012 9:57PM

    You are looking great, woman! Others are right; you DO take a good picture.

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ROXYZMOM 5/18/2012 9:46PM

    You are really pretty - and photogenic. Why are we so hard on ourselves??

I see a big difference in your top two pictures! You are doing great and must be feeling great!

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SUE_2U 5/18/2012 9:19PM

    Wow you're doing fabulously!
I love your smile!

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KAYTIE22 5/18/2012 9:16PM

    Loved all the pictures! You're doing an amazing job and you look great! Applause! Applause! Continued success. You inspire me to do better.

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FRANCES-AGAPE 5/18/2012 7:44PM


You are

emoticon emoticon


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AMBERZADE 5/18/2012 6:47PM

    You're beautiful!!

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SAMI199 5/18/2012 6:15PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TIFFY0906 5/18/2012 4:20PM

    Your pics are beautiful - you are a beautiful woman not sure why you don't like pics. Soon your going to have to give that bathing suit away - wow it looks like more than 59lb difference.

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BERKCHIK 5/18/2012 3:06PM

    Fun photos. Love your current 191.5 pic!!!
You're looking GREAAT!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment edited on: 5/18/2012 3:06:40 PM

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PATIB13 5/18/2012 1:16PM

    You inspire me. Thanks for being willing to share the photos, it can't be easy when you first start off but now WOW! Way to go lady!!!!

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SCMAMAJONES 5/18/2012 12:48PM

    Wow. You look AMAZING!! All of your hard work is definitely paying off. Love the muscles!!!

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SHERIO5 5/18/2012 12:01PM

    Thanks for sharing your pictures! You can see a marked difference from your beginning picture to now! I agree with whoever said you can see the muscle definition, for sure!

Keep up your hard work! emoticon emoticon

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SHELLYK972 5/18/2012 11:46AM

    Wow!! You're looking great! Your bathing suit is getting too big!


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CHUBRUB3 5/18/2012 11:42AM

    I think you are a beautiful lady and you are succeeding so very well.
You are doing awesome and must be feeling so too.

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CAO2012 5/18/2012 11:01AM

  WOW! Your really do look great. Keep it up. emoticon

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DEBJAE 5/18/2012 10:57AM

    Embrace your smile, you're an individual and it adds to your character emoticon

Your hard work & determination is paying off, you look great!

Congrats and thanks for the pics! emoticon

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JENNCABA 5/18/2012 10:30AM

    emoticonOn all of your progress and weight loss!!! You look great!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MARYSTAN 5/18/2012 10:25AM

    You are an inspiration! emoticon

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KRISTEN_SAYS 5/18/2012 10:09AM

    you look awesome! keep it up!

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_JODI404 5/18/2012 10:00AM

    VERY cool to see your old photos!!

You look FABULOUS right now!! The differences are incredible!!!

Way to Go ~ you are seriously rocking it at the gym! I see that arm definition
even without a bicep flex!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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THE_NEW_MELISSA 5/18/2012 9:37AM

    Your son is adorable. I think you look great in all the pics. I like your smile, it's you :)

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TORIAMAE 5/18/2012 9:29AM

    Looking good!

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LGAR519 5/18/2012 9:19AM

    Thanks for posting the pictures. I really enjoyed them. You are looking so good!

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TANYA602 5/18/2012 9:08AM

    You DO look younger in this recent picture! Big kudos to you for sticking with your program and losing the weight. You are a true inspiration, and I really appreciate that you point out the first few months were hard. argh. I'm 110 days in and I notice small changes. What I notice most about you, and others who have stayed with SP for a number of months, is that you are HAPPY and obviously healthier!
Have a beautiful weekend!

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VALKYRIA- 5/18/2012 9:00AM

    You are looking quite healthy! Congratulations on all your hard work (and on taking all the compliments that come with it, I know that is hard for you) I like your crooked smile too, hehe

Comment edited on: 5/18/2012 9:13:00 AM

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WHQPHQ 5/18/2012 8:59AM

    Wow! Well done, you're looking great! :)

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AMYTRIPP 5/18/2012 8:34AM

    Thanks for sharing all these! What a great peek into your life and history.

It's amazing how much younger you look now than you did in your 'before' photo. Younger and healthier!

Your son was such a cutie.

Great photos!

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TMCLEOD4 5/18/2012 8:27AM

    You're going to need a new swimsuit!! Great progress!!

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BEARGODDESS 5/18/2012 8:25AM

    You're looking great! I hope someday to join you in one-derland myself. Lol! I LOVE the picture of you crouching with your son leaning into you. It's so adorable.


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RG_DFW 5/18/2012 8:05AM

    Fantastic progress... you're an inspiration

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APONI_KB 5/18/2012 8:00AM

    This is great

and the little guy is adorable

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KATYFUHR 5/18/2012 6:58AM

    Wonderful!! Thank you for posting this! Amazing encouragement. emoticon

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ODAYSKI11 5/18/2012 6:30AM

    That is just fantastic, and as Bababells says above, great inspiration for all of us!

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SWEDE_SU 5/18/2012 5:44AM

    wow! emoticon

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JUSTMI1 5/18/2012 5:07AM

  I can see a big difference.........congrats!

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SBNORMAL 5/18/2012 4:35AM

  Great progress!

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BABABELLS 5/18/2012 4:21AM

  Well done. I'm starting out and you have increased my hope 10 fold that I can do thos

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ARNETTELEE 5/18/2012 4:10AM

  Keep going....

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On the cusp of 60 pounds down

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'll be taking and putting up my 8-months along picture tonight after I get home from the gym. Tempted as I may be, I won't flex these biceps because then the pictures wouldn't match.


Having gotten close to 190, I'm suddenly thinking way back and remembering little things. See, up until a little over a dozen years ago when I made the screwy decision to gain weight, my "I'll never get heavier than" number was 200.

I was 150 in my junior year of high school, without any real excess on me. (I might edit this blog or add another with some really old pictures of me, in fact.) The reason I remember 150 so well was my driver's ed teacher talked about blood alcohol levels and the effect of our weight on how much we could drink and be in range. He asked if anyone weighed 150 and I answered that I did. Sure, there were some who were shocked. Girls weren't supposed to be willing to admit how much they weighed, for one, but I wasn't chubby at all and I really truly had no consideration about my weight at that point.

I did gain weight once I was living on my own. I'm sure the 32-64 oz of soda amongst other things helped. Not a lot of weight, though. I remember 160-165 being my usual range and mostly be annoyed by the small bulge of my belly. Amusingly, this was the only time I did things like wear those shape-enhancing girdle contraptions or control-top pantyhose.

The next time I remember actually having a known number was late 1988. I had done the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) because I really didn't know what sort of career path I wanted to take and figured that a test that told me where my aptitudes were could point me in the right direction. Going over the results, I could choose any branch, any field (so much for narrowing my choices) ... but I was 5-10 pounds over their top limit for my height and would need to lose that to join. Turns out I was a couple months pregnant already at that point but didn't know yet. I don't remember the number, but I think it was 175.

The next number was the day before DDb was born (that same first pregnancy). I was two weeks late, she was definitely big, and they were talking about inducing labor. I weighed in at just under 200 (198 or 199). I think this is where my stated limit of 200 came from. If an 8 pound 15 ounce baby couldn't knock me over 200, I could definitely get active or eat better to keep my weight below it otherwise.

From the time I met my EX (probably around 165) until we were divorced (probably around 180-185), my weight mostly fluctuated depending on such things as when I had a car and when I didn't, whether I belonged to a gym or had time to take off and go hiking, pregnancy gains and losses, and the like.

There were a few times in those years that I considered diets or other things, but I'm a skeptic - particularly of any form of marketing. The moment any ad or food product included "along with a healthy diet and exercise", I refused to consider it. I already knew that healthy diet and exercise would help me drop the weight, so what benefit was the product? If the product actually DID anything, I wouldn't need to change how I eat or work out. (Thankfully I did listen enough to improve what I ate and work out more ... for a while each time. Never a diet, but enough healthier behavior to stay a good ways under 200.)


Honestly, it was that stubborn streak of mine and attitude about advertising "promises" that were usually lies that saved me from the Yo-Yo dieting nightmare.

After making my screwy decision, I gradually gained over the years - seeing 195, passing 200, seeing 210 for a while, passing 225 and sitting at 230, eventually hitting my high of 250.5 when I started here. I weighed periodically, and recorded them over the years in various places without really worrying about the number.

I've mentioned it elsewhere, but I pulled out my state ID card the other day - I'm the loon who lied UP about my weight. It says Wt: 255. I never weighed that much. I got this ID over 6 years ago - when I was more commonly in the 225 range. By some old records, I was fairly steady around 235 - 240 in late 2010 to early 2011.

Soooooo, what I've been realizing is that I'm actually below the Start Point of my deliberate gain now. I see myself in the mirror and I'm seeing two things at once.

One is how much slimmer I look. Side views, front-on views. I definitely have less gut and less hips. Those are two that are super obvious. Even away from the mirror I notice little things. My DDa and I were noticing that I look like I have bonier wrists than her - even though I'm carrying more fat. It even feels bonier, like a thin layer of skin wrapped around there and nothing under but bone. Shaving my legs gives me a lot of visual reminders of how they're changing. I laugh to say I can actually FIND my hip bones now. Yes, they were there before but under a thick enough layer I felt like I was digging around to decide where my hips where. They're still under some fat, but it doesn't take much to find the edge.

The other is how far I still have to go. I'm at the upper end of what used to be my "I'm fat" compared to my "I'm normal, if a little chubby", and I'm seeing and remembering that. This is a weight that would, in the far distant past, have me walking more and eating less sweets - my standard of non-diet normal behavior when I saw my weight creep up. One of the things I mentioned above had recently come to mind - that it was only when I was thinner that I used body-shaping clothing. I have no real desire to right now, but it came to mind seeing a body in the mirror that in the past I would have squeezed into smaller, tighter clothes.

IMPORTANT: No, I don't feel bad seeing that I still have a "long" ways to go. Self-esteem or body image have never really been a problem. Even the girdles were more about fitting into existing clothes than looking skinnier. All I'm talking about here is seeing things like the roll that shows up if I slouch or feeling the extra padding over my hip bones or jiggling the "bat wings" while flexing the bicep. (That last makes me chuckle. It will eventually go away, but having both tickles my funny bone.)

This is ME on the cusp of 60 pounds down.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRIGHTPENNY 5/20/2012 1:48PM

    Very enjoyable blog.. you have a sense of humour and perspective that not all of us have on this weight loss and fitness journey, your blog gave me a chuckle! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WOMANOBRONZE 5/19/2012 12:51PM

    60 pounds?! All right!!!!

That is an impressive amount of work and a heck of an achievement.

Go ahead - flex those biceps and smile (and post the picture next to the "standard" pose).

Honestly, along with the numbers, isn't it great to do things with your body that you couldn't do carrying the extra 60 pounds? Or just not hurting at the end of a long day, particularly if you were on your feet most of the time?

One factor that has been motivating me has been the specter of menopause and its ensuing loss of estrogen coming up on me fast (I'm 48). Muscle loss, weight gain, bone density loss, is waiting for me along with all the "You're Over the Hill" gag gifts. So I'm using my last two years here in my 40's to get ready for that battle...

You are emoticon

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ROXONA 5/19/2012 10:29AM

    I recently went hiking and carried a 9 lb. boulder around with me to represent the amount of weight I had lost. Can you imagine carrying a 60 lb. boulder? Congratulations on all your hard work!!! You're doing a fantastic job.

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-SONIA- 5/19/2012 7:36AM

    Woo Hoooooooooooo !!!!
emoticon emoticon

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WIMSONFLOWER 5/19/2012 12:19AM


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SPARKFRAN514 5/18/2012 11:22PM

    great blog and anxious to see the photos you are such a inspiration to me and reading your blogs is like siting down and having a visit over coffee / tea
you much be an inspiration to the people you work with. keep up the great journey
thanks for inspiring me to keep Sparking
Fran emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 5/18/2012 11:26:42 PM

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BERKCHIK 5/18/2012 3:02PM

    You lied up! Did you do that because you weren't sure what your weight was and you wanted to guess as high as it could possibly be?

Well, you've come a long way, baby! Can't wait to see you go the rest of the distance :)

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THE_NEW_MELISSA 5/18/2012 9:52AM

    You have come so far! Wow, you amaze me. You are officially the first person the world I've met that has lied "up" their driver's license weight! You crack me up. You have a great attitude, no wonder you're doing so well. Have a great weekend!

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TORIAMAE 5/18/2012 9:22AM

    I love your ability to open your head and let us into your thought process.

Congratulations on all your success so far. I know what you mean about having a long way to go but not finding that discouraging per se...just keeping it real about how much is left to do!

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BEARGODDESS 5/18/2012 8:17AM

    I admire you for being such a hard worker and approaching your weight loss so intelligently. You really should be a math professor or an engineer the way you break things down. When I read your blogs sometimes they remind me of my father who was an engineer. Lol! I'm so proud of you for losing 60 pounds!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FLEURGARDEN 5/18/2012 7:40AM

    You have a great attitude. Sometimes we do get frustrated by how far we still have to go, instead of celebrating how far we have already come. emoticon

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TEMPENATIVE 5/18/2012 1:01AM

    wow congrats on you success, it sounds like its taken a lot of hard work and honesty. i too went on a deliberate weight gain in reaction to relationship troubles. its hard to let go of the security blanket. i learning how, and strong women like you are showing me too.

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FRANCES-AGAPE 5/17/2012 11:39PM

    emoticon emoticon

Girl, YOU are emoticon

Keep up the GOOD WORK !

emoticon emoticon


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SKAHONEY4U 5/17/2012 10:29PM

    Great job! You are an inspiration! emoticon

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SHERIO5 5/17/2012 10:22PM

    I love that you are taking stock of things, putting them in perspective as you are on the brink of a "milestone", and a pretty impressive one!

Thanks for taking me along on your journey to your best health yet!


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SAMI199 5/17/2012 9:37PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Congrats! You've come a long way,Baby!(in every way)

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ERINMARIE424 5/17/2012 9:26PM

    Hurray!! Congrats on your 60 pound loss! What an accomplishment! I still have a ways to go too but it's a lot less than it was when I started, and once you start losing some you know you have it in you to lose more.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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_JODI404 5/17/2012 9:20PM

    Congratulations!! 60 lbs is a wonderful accomplishment!!!!
And that is 240 lbs of pressure off of your knees too!!

You are ROCKING this!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KUJAYHAWKGIRL 5/17/2012 9:11PM

    60 pounds is amazing. Appreciating the "you" in the mirror and recognizing both how far you've come and how far you have to go is part of that amazing journey, and I applaud your confidence!

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NANDA82 5/17/2012 9:10PM

    What a journey! It's inspiring to read someone else's POV on their weight loss and this post was no exception. You're so strong minded! Keep up the great work emoticon

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SYZYGY922 5/17/2012 9:08PM

    Congratulations! That's wonderful!


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MICHELLE_391 5/17/2012 8:33PM

    Congratulations to you and your success! I think it's awesome that you are able to track your journey like this. I think big changes are more meaningful when you can really be aware of them.

I'm looking forward to seeing your new pictures!


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LGAR519 5/17/2012 7:48PM

    Give yourself a big pat on the back! You are doing really good!

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TIFFY0906 5/17/2012 7:45PM

    Congrats for all your accomplishments and for being on the cusp of 60lbs. You have worked hard and the progress is showing. Keep up the good work.

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SASSYLJB 5/17/2012 7:28PM

    You are so motivating! What a great journey you are having! You have a plan and a set goal. You are certainly going to make your goal! Great job! You are a force to be reckon with!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MARYSTAN 5/17/2012 7:12PM

    I love your attitude! emoticon for being on the cusp of 60 pounds! down emoticon

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LEITEIT 5/17/2012 7:08PM

    I do not think you have a long way to go... You are already doing what needs to be done to get in shape and where you want. You found your formula and already lost plenty of weight! You just need to keep doing what you are doing! You are straight on track! So it is just a matter of time and patience..You will get there!!! A long way to go seems like you got a lot to do and discover. Not really! Forget time... You are doing great and correctly... So it is just a matter of living and keeping up the good work!

Congratulations and just keep rolling!

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Bits and pieces from reading The Spark

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

As I'd mentioned in another blog, many many years ago (two decades or thereabouts) I had read "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". I'd gone to a seminar by the same name. I had purchased audio cassettes that I listened to a couple of times. I even had day-planners for a few years.

With the Kindle Fire, that is the first and only book I've bought so far.

Covey wasn't the only leadership and motivational speaker/writer I read back then. I remember Anthony Robbins as well as seminars on "How to Get Along with Others" and similar topics. I even got involved with a group around 15 years ago that is allegedly very "self-help" / "self-improvement" oriented. Allegedly, because they really get a bad rap from many and probably deserve most of it - even if some of the teachings can legitimately help people.

Why bring that up when my title only mentions The Spark?

Well, early on in his story, Chris talks about how he began to read goal-setting and leadership books. When I first read that, I just went on past without really thinking about it. It was just part of the narrative.

Then I started to recognize, in spite of the different words, very similar concepts. Things I'd learned, some even applied, over the last couple decades ... are also part of The Spark.

And then Chris brings up Victor Frankl's story. Victor Frankl was a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps - who during his time as a prisoner found that his circumstances didn't have to define him, that he could rise above them. Covey also refers to his story, with a little different slant.

Suddenly it clicked. I don't know or say that Chris specifically read 7 Habits as one of those leadership books. He may have somehow managed to miss it amongst the others he read and found Frankl's book via his own path. But what clicked is that certain core truths will continue to pop up in multiple places.

Underlying ANY effort we make to improve our lives are some very basic rules that can be applied to any other area of our life.

So by the time I was hitting Chapter 3 or Chapter 4, I was having some inner dialogues. Something would be said and I'd be thinking "Yeah, okay. I already do that. I did it before I read it here or on the website."

I had to shake myself out of that. Ever heard the phrase "There's nothing new under the sun"? Well, it's wrong. The moon may look like the moon every time someone takes a photograph of it, but every photo of it is unique. Just because we know something already does not mean we know all we could about it or know it so well we can't learn something new from the different perspective from which it is approached.

In fact, using Frankl as the proof of that:

Covey looks on Frankl's mental shift as a prisoner, the point when he realized that no matter WHAT was done to him, he remained who he was and decided his response to that.

Chris looks on Frankl's ability to dream of the future, the fact that no matter his circumstances at the time, he could think forward to teaching others based on his experiences.

Both presumably read the same exact book and got something unique from it. In fact, if any of you read The Spark or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you may find that your take on what Chris or Covey got out of Frankl's story differs from mine. If I were to buy Frank's books and read them, I might find something else far more enlightening about his experiences. In fact, all of us would probably have a different take than Frankl himself did.

*BONK* (me knocking myself on the head for being a dolt)

Just because I already do certain things and know certain things does not mean there is nothing new to be learned. There is plenty to be learned. Heck, why would I have bought a book I read more than once in the past if I could get nothing new from it?

As Jerome Merlau (JMERLAU) said in his blog on the Daily Spark, we are an Experiment of One.

That goes far beyond experimenting with how much food and how much exercise to get our weight to drop. Every aspect of our life can be considered an ongoing experiment. Having trouble in a relationship with someone? Want to increase your net worth? Need a career change? Getting sick more often than you want? Feeling lost, like you're missing some greater meaning? Collect data to look clearly at the current status and the things affecting it, research the existing knowledge in the area, and make small experimental adjustments.

Well, reading all these books is my way of researching the existing knowledge. Commonly agreed on principles will show up - and hearing them from different perspectives provides more depth to my understanding. (I'm the same way looking up word definitions. I like using 2-3 dictionaries, researching etymologies - word roots - and really getting the deeper knowledge of how and why a word means what it does.)

Long story short (isn't it already too late for that?), I will certainly continue reading both The Spark and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and even have my eye on one of Frankl's books. I wouldn't want to miss something important just because I got the boneheaded idea I already knew it all.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LASVEGASLASS 5/21/2012 1:39PM

    I love the idea of an Experiment of One that concept is definitely something that I have to keep in mind. Thanks for posting and re-grounding me!

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APONI_KB 5/18/2012 8:17AM

    There is a lot to be said for just sort of starting over from time to time. Plus lord how things do change. In the end though, you pretty much have to find what works for you. I find it almost amusing how the shall we say larger members of my family are so full of advice when they hear I'm trying to lose weight. Oh sure just stop drinking sodas and the pounds will just melt away - yea well I haven't had a real soda in years but thanks for the great advice.


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BIGDOG1969 5/17/2012 6:29PM

    To qoute Socrates: "I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance." I agree with you - I'm always learning even if it's a topic, subject or idea I learned about before. Great blog!

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SAMI199 5/17/2012 2:57PM

    I agree-we even have a topic on my team called "Could You Repeat That?"-we post articles that remind us of the basics 7 I always learn something I thought I knew-lol.Awesome,blog!!!


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LOSINGAMY 5/17/2012 8:38AM

    I have that trouble too. I might THINK I know something but really don't. I came to this realization yesterday when I was reading nutritional labels in the store. I came across No Sugar Added canned fruit that had Sucralose in the ingredients. From Organic Chem, I 'knew' most things that end in -ose are sugars. I got kinda huffy at the can, and decided to google sucralose to see how the company could get away with putting an -OSE in their NO sugar fruit. Well, turns out Sucralose is a sweetener, but it has no calories and doesn't affect insulin levels. Shows you what I know!


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ROXYZMOM 5/17/2012 8:19AM

    Great analysis and one of the greatest reasons I love books. Depending where the reader is in their life and what their mind is open to, IS what they are going to take away from the book they are reading.

Thanks for taking so much time to share.

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SPARKFRAN514 5/17/2012 12:36AM

    I always learn some thing new from you i had to re read to get every thing clear in my mind thanks for all the thought you put into the blog. I always t thought of Spark as a weight lose site now i see how we can apply to all areas of our lives. thanks for the in sight and ideas. good food for thought for us on our journey thanks

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MISSLISTER 5/16/2012 11:44PM

    Beautifully written blog!! I love non-fiction. There is always something to be learned, and learning new things is a great way to strive to be better. Thanks for taking the time to share your words of wisdom :-)

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NEWMOM20121 5/16/2012 9:20PM

    Thank you for sharing, I needed this today.

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SHERIO5 5/16/2012 6:08PM

    Boy isn't that the truth! Save me from my own "knowitallness"! I think we need to hear things multiple times, and in different ways (especially as adult learners) before it truly resonates within us.

Thanks for sharing!

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PGNBRI 5/16/2012 11:51AM

    Well Said!

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VALKYRIA- 5/16/2012 11:45AM

    Very interesting and very cool how you have realized that nuanced approaches and new perspectives can make old information newly applicable. I used to say I knew "everything about losing weight, but just couldnt do it" when I was a teenager... and truly, most of what I know now is what I knew then, but I didn't really *KNOW* it then, if that makes sense... I had a vague idea then, but now I have reasons, research, and experimental data to prove what works for me and what does not. I really like your approach of experimentation, and it is precisely what I use for my diet and other problems in my life.

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TANYA602 5/16/2012 9:05AM

    I've never been one to read non-fiction, or self-help I guess, but I am reading The Spark on my iPad and am getting a lot out of it. Are you using the bonus link to the book?
I really appreciate how you identify the connections we make and the way we all see things differently, at different times. So true. I would say this justifies the books all over my house that I can't bear to part with!
Keep sharing tidbits and connections!

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-SONIA- 5/16/2012 8:44AM

    Sometimes we learn even MORE the second, third, or fourth time around ;) It's like a good movie -- the more you watch it, the more you notice ;) emoticon

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AMYTRIPP 5/16/2012 8:19AM

    Great realization! A quote or a passage or an idea can even mean something different to a person at different stages of their lives. Reading something when you're twenty and then again when you're forty will definitely put a different spin on it.

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RG_DFW 5/16/2012 7:58AM

    Great perspective

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ODAYSKI11 5/16/2012 6:07AM

    Great Blog - you've just added to my "must read" book list!

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JUSTMI1 5/16/2012 5:55AM

  This blog is JUST what I needed today...thank you.

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BEVERLY1983 5/16/2012 5:22AM

    I like this blog. Makes me think I need to start reading the Spark again.

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LIZALOT 5/16/2012 5:13AM

    Very interesting views, and (to copy swede_su), thanks for sharing! And for reminding me that I must re-read The Spark.

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SWEDE_SU 5/16/2012 4:54AM

    what an interesting perspective you bring - thank you for sharing!

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BERKCHIK 5/16/2012 3:05AM

    i enjoy your scientific bent. it's fun, informative and entertaining at once...if you've ever taken the true colors personality profile, you're definitely a green!

and, oh, i totally agree with your point in this post :) emoticon

Comment edited on: 5/16/2012 3:05:50 AM

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ILOVEMALI 5/16/2012 1:32AM

    Frankl is on my to-read list, actually! And I love Tony Robbins -- met him at a seminar once. I have a story for you over tea!

What a great blog!

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MICHELLE_391 5/16/2012 12:22AM

    You are just the kind of person I'd like to have a long conversation with over tea. I love this blog and all of your insights!

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