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Why I don't believe the hype

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'm one of those people who will generally walk right past labels that proudly proclaim a food "low fat" or "low sodium" or "organic" or "all natural" - or at least look at the nutrition label and ingredients. In point of fact, I despise marketing for all the deceptiveness that is involved.

Every one of those words affixed to a food is supposed to make the person eating it feel they've picked something healthy.

Well Sunday at the grocery store I sort of fell for one without realizing it.

Peanut butter. Growing up I remember us taking plastic tubs to the health food store and having a machine that ground the peanuts to fill it. There were settings to have it crunchier or creamier, but ALL it contained was 100% peanuts. No added salt, no added oil, no added sugar. "All natural" peanut butter.

So I saw a jar of "Natural" peanut butter, saw the warning about oil separation (very familiar with pure peanut butter), vaguely noticed the low sodium claim (nearly half the sodium of the normal), and bought it.

Today, as I spread it on my celery, I actually looked more closely at the jar and label and ingredients.

I feel dumb for not "reading the label" first. (But, to be honest, it is better than what I've usually picked up. It was just the thinking that I should switch back to a more natural peanut butter that pulled me in - and next time I'll actually get one that is 100% peanuts.)

1) It's a peanut butter spread.
The moment they affix the word spread, that means it is less than some legally required percentage to count as simple peanut butter. In this case, 90% peanuts. Which sounds good until you realized ... 10% what else?

2) It's one of the two big brands.
All that means is EXPECT sugar. Sugar and molasses are natural. So is salt. So is palm oil. Yep, that's the ingredient list. In fact, that made me go look at the regular version. What's the difference here? Peanuts and sugar. No change there. Oh, they used palm oil instead of "hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean)" but added more oil because it couldn't be labeled "contains 2% or less". Oh, and they left out the mono and diglycerides.

Sooooo ... all they left out were the "unnatural" fatty acids that are used to prevent the oil separation, giving it a false apparency of being the pure peanut butter while being nothing of the kind and giving them the legal ability to call it "natural".

3) Gotta love "low sodium".
2% or less of the following ingredients: Salt. But it's really only a difference of about 80mg of sodium. BOTH versions, the natural low-sodium and the regular, contain less than 2% of salt. That doesn't really say much more than a marketing lure.


Another lesson learned.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKFRAN514 7/17/2012 7:55PM

    This some thing i don't taker time to do and should how do we expect to lose or maintain our weight if we don't know whats in of the foods we eat . but some times i think we just need to enjoy our food. emoticon

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SLIMMERJESSE 7/17/2012 4:47PM

    Great reminder, as I often forget to check this info out. Thanks!

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ECKOKITTEN 7/17/2012 12:57PM

    I know it feels like food companies are just pure evil. We expect to go into the store and be able pick stuff off the shelf that is healthy or we try and pick stuff that is better to find out that they bend the truth so much that it isn't even recognizable anymore and are allowed to do this! Because they only care about the money.

I remember getting a healthier type granola bar that was strawberry flavored. I check the ingredients and not one strawberry was in it but instead strawberry flavored cranberries. What?? lol
And then how the fresh squeezed not from concentrate orange juice sits so long it loses all its flavor so they add flavor packs to it. And still are allowed to claim & make it seem like it came straight from the tree yuck.

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MNJONES2 7/17/2012 11:56AM

    Thanks for the reminder to check those labels!! Always good advice.

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FITANDFAITHFUL1 7/17/2012 11:04AM

    I think its awesome that you are at a place to really notice the details about the foods you choose and to educate others (like me) on your discoveries. I do read the labels now most of the time on any product that I buy or someone in my family purchases, but to be honest, I look more at the serving size and the calories per serving than anything else, just because that's where I'm at in this journey to be healthy and slimmer. I think sometimes, if I look more closely at the labels, I will be overwhelmed, but I'm grateful for the discoveries of my fellow sparkers! Have a great day! emoticon

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APONI_KB 7/17/2012 8:10AM

    I remember years ago the deal was low fat or fat free. I didn't realize at the time that fat free generally meant chock full of sugar. They make it sound like you're eating a little packet of vitimins that just happens to taste like chocolate.

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IMELECTRIC 7/17/2012 7:52AM

    Everyone slips up sometimes and forgets to read labels. I worked in a dairy (engineering working with quality department) and they sold alot of "organic" milk. Which means the cow wasn't fed hormones. They charged 2x the price for this milk. Funny thing is that state regulations makes it mandatory for all milk to be tested and be hormone and medicine free. Same thing....less $$ than organic! emoticon

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TALENKARR1 7/17/2012 7:39AM

    I wonder if my food prosser can handle making penut butter. cause I had the same kinda fod store too

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BERGIE8771 7/17/2012 4:48AM

    Sometimes we are too tired to read the ingredients label, and just read the (marketing) label and then it's a "gotcha". Happened to me recently, it was an ARGH! moment. Sorry you had one as well. I just hate it when marketing gets me when normally I am so careful. As someone else said, it most likely won't happen to you with peanut butter, or peanut spread again!

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_RAMONA 7/17/2012 2:08AM

    The hype drives me nuts, and the injconsistency of labels really gets to me... I can't count the number of labels where the ingredient list, compared to the nutrition info just doesn't make sense.

As you said... there's always next time!
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FRANCES-AGAPE 7/16/2012 11:20PM

    emoticon

How infurating !

The FDA & USDA have
a lot of cleanup to do
with these companies

THANKS for reminding us

Have a Terrific Tuesday

emoticon emoticon

BLESSINGS!

emoticon emoticon


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KAYTIE22 7/16/2012 10:38PM

    Yep! These ad companies and manufacturers know just what to use to pull us in and then we come to find it's not what we thought. Sometimes you just get tired of reading labels and comparing the jars and packages though but it has to be done. Another lesson learned is right! These things are annoying but make us stronger and smarter. Thanks for this blog.

Have a great week!

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BLUE_KARMA 7/16/2012 9:19PM

    It is very annoying. They can say 'new and improved' - and it just means new packaging with 15% less product. Seems like crap business practice to me....

Another good reason for going whole foods as much as possible.

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DAZZEEDOO 7/16/2012 9:05PM

    emoticon- those darn marketers make it soooo hard to just do something simple like buy real peanut butter! I've done this before too.
Well- they'll only sell you one jar, next time it won't work.


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CHRIS3874 7/16/2012 8:55PM

    yeah its surprising what "they" will try to get away with for the sake of profit!! I am currently wathcing a show about MONSANTO and how they have lied and manipulated facts and figures to get what they want - pathetic.

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MUSOLF6 7/16/2012 8:30PM

    emoticon

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SBNORMAL 7/16/2012 7:55PM

  Nothing is real no more!

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SHEL_V2 7/16/2012 7:50PM

    Consumer fatigue, give yourself credit for at least checking the label carefully later. We face hundreds of choices in the grocery store, sometimes when we're just trying to stick to our list. I have friends on FaceBook who post their extreme couponing "success" piles and think "who is going to eat that crap?".

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DEBJAE 7/16/2012 6:54PM

    Ha! Been there done that girl! Common mistake, lesson learned emoticon

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MICHELLENRGZED 7/16/2012 6:04PM

    This is a good reminder of being more careful & of not being taken in - thank-you for it.

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SAMI199 7/16/2012 5:55PM

    I have been "fooled" by assuming something had no sugar-when in fact...Drats! Reading carefully every single label is a chore-I basically stick with the tried & true.Thanks for the reminder.



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About my extra thoughts on "sexy"

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sometimes going for a walk down memory lane is like doing an archaeological dig.

Originally my blog title for yesterday said it had ... some extra thoughts on "sexy". I had intended to expand on my original reply on that blog as I continued to think about certain periods of my life and their impact on my attitude and reactions to the idea of whether I am sexy, and really whether I want to be.

Then I kept typing.

And typing.

And typing some more.

Eventually I realized it was going to be too long for that blog - so I clipped it off and posted what I had without all that rambling. I emailed the rest to myself (since I was at work). I later edited the title of the blog, but have no idea which shows up for people.

Last night at home, I kept adding to it as I thought of things. When I stopped, saving the file in a document, it was near the end of a 6th page. I was still leaving some things out or unsaid with the concept of posting it - but I think I'll keep working with it and fill in the details I wouldn't actually ever tell anyone.

Simplest summary I can try for, hmmm.

I had some "wild" years. At 18 I'd never kissed a guy. I'd had one crush my senior year in high school, but otherwise nada. By 3 years later, my 21st birthday, I had a child out of wedlock I gave up for adoption whose father is uncertain and more sexual experiences than I can remember and count. Before my EX, my only actual relationship was a boyfriend that lasted a few weeks before he did cocaine and I walked out.

( I was wild, sure, but I did not do drugs or approve of them, did not smoke, and preferred not to drink. Most of my wild behavior centered around promiscuity. )

As I hit 21, I began to wake up. That's the best way I can describe it. I didn't want that life. "Sexy" was the only way I knew to attract someone, but I had proven to date that it didn't create a relationship - just sex.

With those thoughts in mind I met my EX at a nightclub - his smile hooked me, his friend tried to hit on me, but I made it clear that he was the one who caught my eye. I took him home. Inside I felt like it was just more of the same - I wasn't changing like I told myself I wanted to.

Except, he didn't leave in the morning. He wrote me the sweetest love letter while I was at work and was still there when I got home. I was hooked.

Looking back on that I suddenly realized that my entire relationship with my EX was fabricated on the fact he met my keenest need at the time - to feel like I was desired for something more than some horizontal tango. Sure, I usually did the walking out, but part of that may have been avoiding the reality that I knew they weren't around to stay. And here he seemed interested in staying.

Within the month he asked me to marry him and have a child. Pregnant a month later, married a few months past that, the first cheating I learned about was when my DS was an infant. He met her at a nightclub after we had an argument and he took off.

CRASH! There went any belief I had that I was more than "sexy". So began four years of fights, separations, cheating, and me being unwilling / unable to walk because that would just prove ~I~ didn't have what it takes to build a real relationship that survives, something more than "sexy" leading to sex.

After our divorce, I tried once. I met someone through a personals site, went out with him a few times, but looking back on it I made sure it wouldn't work. He was here on a work visa, so it couldn't last more than a few months, he was very dedicated to his mother and sisters who would likely help him pick a caste-appropriate wife, and he had performance issues.

Soon after that, as I fended off other nibbles from the personals site, I made the decision that led to my weight gain. I didn't WANT to be sexy. All sexy got me was sex and emptiness. It would be easier to be invisible.


I don't know what I want now. I can't seem to avoid being viewed as "sexy" by certain individuals. It took shutting myself in, not the weight, to avoid most contact of that sort. A part of me cringes every time someone compliments anything about my appearance - looking younger, looking slimmer, looking good in any way. I have to actively work at accepting compliments.

I feel like I never learned to play the relationship game at all and sexy is the only way I can join back in. At the same time, I fear that using sexy to get into play will just return me to a variant on those wild years, but in the ugly guise often called a Cougar. (A term I despise and tend to react VERY poorly to when people have teased me with it.)

I actually AVOID thinking about the "sexy" side of things as much as possible. I watch my muscles develop and don't think about the curves. When I'm complimented by random men, I make myself say thank you and appreciate that my effort was noticed ... but inside I am rattling off a whole litany of how I'm only attractive relative to the other women he gets to see, only because he's horny and thinks I might be swayed by a compliment, and more.

I have to REJECT the possibility I'm sexy or can be. Somewhere in this screwed up psyche of mine, accepting or desiring "sexy" leads to a life I don't want to live again, leading only to sex but never to love or respect or any sort of lasting romantic interest. (All that glosses over a fear that I can't successfully have one, that it is something wrong with me that will prevent any relationship from work. Not a fear that I can't be loved or am undeserving, but more that some personality flaw makes me impossible to put up with long-term.)

I'm refusing to let those fears detour me from having a healthy and fit body, from changing my life to embrace healthy habits.

But the fears don't go away. They run around in circles.

===============

And my longish history that I'm writing has me looking further back and wondering about connections. Even before "sexy" was an issue for me, what made me disconnect like that? Or is it really just a deep part of my natural personality? Was I ever in a relationship that I didn't walk away from for some reason? After all, I moved out at 18 after graduating and never looked back. I walked away from my pre-school "friend" when we started different grades in school. I was only 6 when I walked away from that like it didn't even matter.

... and it's just a little ugly and frightening to have a part of me ask whether that's why I stick with my best friend so firmly even as I feel like we're drifting further and further apart. Am I trying to prove through him that I'm not so messed up that I'll walk away from everyone eventually?

==============

Oddest part? With all that whining and griping, you'd think I was upset or feeling huge amounts of turmoil. I'm not. There's even enough emotional disconnect that my reaction is to look at it like a puzzle - as though I were a spectator trying to figure out how it fits and not the one being affected by it.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DENNETJ 7/18/2012 3:25AM

    I applaud you for your openness in your blogs. I really think that 90% of our weight loss journey is digging through the skeletons in the closet and figuring out how to handle it all.

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BERGIE8771 7/17/2012 5:33AM

    It's been awhile, but I had a friend who walked away. Before I met her she had walked away from her family. While we were friends I watched her walk away from everyone we used to hang out with and realized it would happen to me. She was a complete control freak, and one to many times I didn't show up when I was supposed to (it was Christmas time, raining, and we were supposed to meet at a mall that was about 15 miles away from my house).

I got there late and watched as she was driving off. She wouldn't answer her cell, or let her daughter answer hers as well. And that was it, friendship over. Even tho I had prepared myself, it still hurt, but it hurt my son more. Grr!

A couple of weeks later we saw her at the McDonald's across the street from church (she had already walked away from there as well). But after we awkwardly said hello, I never saw her there again. My son was sad, and asked what he/we had done. I don't see myself staying in a friendship like that again. I think I'll ask him, now that six - seven years have passed, what he makes of that relationship-thanks for the idea of something to talk about with my teen!

Interesting I saw them about three months ago, BUT I never looked at her, only her daughter. I think I am afraid of her, I need to work it out better in my head. I only know that I wanted to get out of that room as quickly as possible. But I have worried about her daughter (only home schooled) for a long time. So I stayed a few minutes, asked her a couple of questions-she seems ok, she is in college now,but still looks like she did back in middle school!

I am glad to have that worry gone, one that is in the back of your head, and floats into conscience-ness every once in awhile - And a worry you cannot do anything about.

Thanks for reminding me of this!

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BMCKEOW1 7/16/2012 4:43PM

    You have come such a long way. Good for you.

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PGNBRI 7/16/2012 11:53AM

    emoticon

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2BEABETTERME 7/16/2012 8:09AM

    You are always so open and honest. I don't have any words of wisdom; but, I agree with all the others who said you have come a long way. You are a strong woman!
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NEWMOM20121 7/16/2012 12:21AM

    emoticon

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SHEL_V2 7/14/2012 5:29PM

    Thanks for working through and sharing this. Like you, I've peeled out of friendships and relationships lightly; done is done, right? Whenever my weight is down I know the teeter-totter of self-consciousness will come back. I want to be look-able, but not looked at? Maybe it just reminds me too much of being a teen and all that crazy, myopic, and pointless self-consciousness.

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VALKYRIA- 7/14/2012 3:52PM

    I often look at my own situations and behaviors and feel the same way - an outsider looking in on someone else. I have that "walk away" mentality as well.. It's a defense mechanism for me. My "best friend" in kindergarten was also my worst bully, thus I have never been able to truly trust anyone in my life.

Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts with all of us.

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TANYA602 7/14/2012 9:57AM

    I think what I marvel at more and more each day is how we all are so different, and yet so the same. We have these cycles we go thru, some at different times. I grew up in a situation where I felt guilty over anything I did that my parents might not approve of. So I held off with anything serious in terms of sex until I was nearly 21, then got everything out of my system in one year. I've always had guys as best friends, and luckily that's what has worked for my husband and me - we were friends first while I was dating someone else. Even today, most of the people I consider friends are a few married couples, or men.
I think it's more important to find someone who appreciates you for all the qualities that you have that make them dig deep to learn about you (does that make sense?). Opening yourself up to people and trusting them is not easy. But don't push it. Accept the compliments, realize that if someone really wants to get to know you, they will stick around and not give up on you. You have a lot to offer, and your honesty about what you want should be heard.

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FLEURGARDEN 7/14/2012 8:01AM

    I can relate to so much of what you've written. My father never had any use for me, so I think I turned to sex as a substitute for the love and affection that he didn't give me. It was my way of "proving" that not everyone rejected me like he did. But that led to emptiness and heartbreak, so I gained weight as a protection. If no guy was interested in me due to the weight, my heart would never get broken again, right? Wrong. Two years ago I met a nice guy and worked really hard at our relationship. I was supportive and understanding, even when his "performance issues" (LOL - loved it when you mentioned that) caused him anxiety (and me a bit frustrated, but I never told him that). And then after telling me he loved me and wanted to get married, he must have gotten cold feet because two weeks later he decided he wasn't that into me after all and would rather be alone. So despite the weight, my heart got broken once again. So I decided I may as well shed it, since it didn't protect me in the long run. At least now I'll be healthy and happy - and it's the perfect revenge against the ex - I want him to see that I look much better without him. I could go on, but I've already rambled a bit. :-)

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ANANDA82 7/14/2012 12:51AM

    Thanks for your honesty! I'm happy you can look back and not feel upset about anything. These experiences made who you are today and you should be proud. In time you'll get the answers to all your questions. You have already come a long way! emoticon

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CORINA-MOMOF4 7/13/2012 11:34PM

    :)

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FRANCES-AGAPE 7/13/2012 10:50PM

    ! ! W O W ! !

Dear, you have come
a LOONNNGGGGG day
emoticon

And you are getting
Better and BETTER !
emoticon


emoticon


BLESSINGS !

emoticon emoticon emoticon
emoticon emoticon emoticon



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TALENKARR1 7/13/2012 8:42PM

    Wow this took a lot of guts to write thank you for sharing

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JENNCABA 7/13/2012 8:41PM

    Thanks for sharing... I always look forward to reading yours and LDRICHEL blogs because they ALWAYS get me thinking and that is a good thing emoticon

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HOPEFULHIPPO 7/13/2012 8:01PM

    That's somehow how I envision all teenage girls viewing sexy. Thank you for digging deep and showing us the thoughts behind everything, I know you are not the only one who feels that way. (or have felt)

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MUSOLF6 7/13/2012 7:28PM

    emoticon

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BEAUTIFUL_REINA 7/13/2012 6:45PM

    Thank you for sharing this sensitive and thought provoking blog.

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1STMOMMY1991 7/13/2012 5:46PM

    wow, I hope that this part of your journey (the blog) was very healing for you. It appears you dug deep into yourself and shared your deepest secrets. I'm glad you feel safe here to do that and I hope it helped you along the way.

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SBNORMAL 7/13/2012 5:45PM

  Now has you have lost weight, how are you dealing with all those issues. I have lost about 35 pounds and I am thinking about it. How are you dealing with it. It is to review your history, how do you create a future.

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POETLKNG2LOSE 7/13/2012 5:42PM

    I would rather like to think of sexy as being atrtractive to men but not in a come on let's go to bed way. Rather in a suble way that shows your feminity and your own personal style. A woman can be sexy and not even know it and someone else knows it and flaunts it to get what she wants. You can be sexy and show off your boby without being blatant about it. Be thankful that people notice the difference and . comment about it. You have come a long way from where you were and you should be proud of it.

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 7/13/2012 5:10PM

    Sexy is a funny thing. There is a gentle sweet sexy and a sexy that slaps you in the face. I've known women that were born sexy. They wore it like their second skin. Then I've known others whose sexy was so subtle it was like a breeze in spring.

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ALESHAWALKER 7/13/2012 5:03PM

    Wonderful blog..... sounds familiar but I won't elaborate with my life... good luck on your jouney.

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Influential blogs and some thoughts on them

Thursday, July 12, 2012

As I said in my status, for whatever reason today all three of the Featured Member Blogs produced quite a reaction for me. I'm linking them all here so I can remember them and why they impacted me so much.

NOTE: I don't actually receive them as emails. I daily go to them for the three points I can get easily. If you also don't check emails, you can do this by going to Account / Email Preferences, the Email tab, and look for the links that say "View today's".

( 1 )
What is Sexy?
LDRICHEL
www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4965753


** I had replied yesterday, but have continued to think about something I briefly mentioned in the reply that I don't often say much about. I've been writing it out and remembered some things I didn't before as well as connected a couple of things. (I started to write more here, but it is getting way too long - so it might be a later blog. Not sure how much to put, still figuring out whether things are connected or not. Yikes.)

( 2 )
8th Anniversary of July 11, 2004... May be graphic for some..
LIFES_A_DANCE
www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4966130


** I was in tears at the point she spoke of the post-accident recovery and how she and her mother were there for each other so fully. I'm in awe of her from that one blog. In addition, the fact that it is only now, just over 8 years later, that she has crossed another boundary and worn shorts is a fantastic reminder that this journey is life, not just "until I weigh ###" or "until I look like ___". It is about constantly growing, constantly stretching, constantly working to open our world further.

( 3 )
Looking Beyond The Scale
ADAMM9
www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4965222


**This one is a message I often try to convey to others. However, right toward the end he mentioned one of his non-scale victories that just stopped me short: == When wife told me - "Hey, you no longer stop breathing at night. I'm not afraid you'll just die while we sleep." ==

I am definitely guilty of convincing myself I was healthy for an obese person. My father was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes around 10 or so years ago, told me because it would be a risk factor for me, and my reaction was ... I can't possibly be diabetic given how much sugar I eat without having blood sugar issues. I researched. I knew just how stealthily it could cause damage - to the point that some people don't know until they're going blind or losing a leg or have irreperable nerve damage. But I was simply convinced I didn't have that issue.

Seriously ... I was relieved when my vision exam included something to check for diabetic damage and came back clean. Not like that was proof that I don't have diabetes or pre-diabetes. I've been working on dental stuff and putting medical stuff off until November to make decisions (that's when open enrollment is and I'll be deciding whether to do so or not). I want to smack myself silly. I know all this, I write this, and I'm not even thinking about setting up an appointment yet. GAH!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKFRAN514 7/17/2012 7:51PM

    emoticon emoticon on a great blog and sharing some of your favorites with us . I was away for several days with family here and family events. so didn't get much Spark time in trying to catch now and these blogs were a great push to get me re started on the Spark trail. emoticon

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SAMI199 7/16/2012 5:59PM

    Awesome-thanks for sharing.Ehere are so many great bloggers here. I'm glad the results from your vision test were good.

! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DENNETJ 7/13/2012 12:48PM

    There are definitely some pretty incredible stories on here. Thanks for sharing. All made me think in different ways. IDK which I liked better.

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MUSOLF6 7/13/2012 8:03AM

    emoticon

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RG_DFW 7/13/2012 7:19AM

    yeah!!

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LITAPOWER 7/13/2012 6:38AM

    Great blog! emoticon

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TALENKARR1 7/13/2012 6:22AM

    I read what is sexy but I didn't read the other two thanks for bringing them to my attetion

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RUNNERRACHEL 7/12/2012 10:09PM

    Those were great blogs! I read them and enjoyed them as well. I didn't know you could read the daily emails on the SP page. I always check my emails but it is more time consuming.

Thanks for sharing! Your blogs are always thoughtful and inspiring. emoticon

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FRANCES-AGAPE 7/12/2012 9:50PM

   

W O W

those emails are
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emoticon
for calling them
to our attention
Many of us would
have missed them

emoticon emoticon

BLESSINGS!

emoticon emoticon
emoticon emoticon


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CHRIS3874 7/12/2012 9:25PM

    Yes diabetes is an insidious, evil,stalking disease- I do not have it thank God but a lot of people in my family do.

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GOING-STRONG 7/12/2012 9:02PM

    I read those blogs also and was moved by them. They were inspirational and full of human spirit.

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HOPEFULHIPPO 7/12/2012 8:32PM

    I do the same thing. Spark is full of inspiring, real people. I love hearing about everything that goes on.

I sometimes will read a blog and want to write something nice or witty and it never comes out. Then three hours later I will be reminded of it and think of the awesomeness I wish I could've conveyed.

That's pretty cool you get yours via email. I always read mine through the friend feed & sometimes through the teams. That usually keeps me busy for the day. LOL.

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Random Acts of Kindness and Pay It Forward

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_act_of_
kindness


Years ago I had a group in a game that I called "Random Acts of Kindness" or RAoK. We did just that - randomly went up to people and gave them things that were useful, offered answers to questions and assistance with in-game tasks, or sometimes just friendliness and an emoted smile and wave. (We being my brother, my son, and I, as well as a couple of in-game friends that joined us later.)

We expected nothing in return. The entire point was to be a positive part of others' experience. If there was anything to be hoped for, it was that those we aided, those we cheered up, would be more friendly to others in-game -- that they would "Pay It Forward."

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_it_forward

The more complete idea behind "Pay It Forward" being that rather than try to repay someone who helped us, the "debt" we owe is to help someone else in turn. As Ben Franklin put it - the help can go through many hands until some Knave stops its progress.

I don't usually ask people to pay things forward as though it were a debt. Rather I tend to mix the two - engage in as many Random Acts of Kindness as possible in the hopes that more than a few people will Pay it Forward if they see someone else in need.

(And if you haven't heard of it or seen it before - I highly recommend a short little video on YouTube called "Change for a Dollar". Such a beautiful reminder of how it can be the smallest things that make the biggest difference.)

Today, I had a direct and rather unexpected experience that reminded me of how something we do can impact another person.

Months ago, I can't even remember when exactly it was that long, a woman came into our office suite at just about closing time for me. She was trying to find a particular address and having trouble.

Now, our office suite is upstairs, it is at the back of the building, and it didn't even have a permanent sign with our business name on the door (just a printed paper taped over the last company's sign). She could have picked any of a dozen other offices in the building to step inside and ask, but somehow came upstairs and all the way to the end and picked our door.

We'd only been in the office suite a few months. While I know the general area, I didn't know where the number she was looking for could be found. But I wasn't just going to say "I don't know" and send her away. I'd shut down my computer in preparation to leave, so I started it back up. We tried the phone number she had with no luck while waiting. Finally the computer was up and I tried working with Google maps without a whole lot of luck.

I made a guess based on what I could figure out, then walked out with her. Based on my guess we walked a couple blocks in one direction - and luckily were able to confirm I was right and she was able to get going as I headed back to my bus stop.

I'd nearly forgotten about it - just one random person I'd done what I could to help.

She walked in again today and asked for me. I was busy on the phone right at that moment, so she spoke with someone else while waiting. When I came out, she thanked me for helping her that day, that she had made it to the appointment she had. She just couldn't let it go and had to come back to say thank you.

Months later that one small action I took - 20 minutes of my time - had that much of an impact on her that she came back just to thank me.

And my reaction? To tell her that my fondest hope is that someday, somehow, she "pays it forward" - helping someone else as I helped her.

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In a way, it's a big part of our community here on SparkPeople. We can cheer each other on through Random Acts of Kindness. Giving SparkGoodies, commenting on a status, replying to a blog, sending a SparkMail, making a comment on a photo or page. And if you think back to the first few Sparkers who welcomed you, helped you out - the greatest repayment is doing that to the "next generation" by welcoming newer Sparkers, helping them out, making them feel as included as we have been.

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Oh, and just to give an idea of the complexities of the address and numbering - why even Google Maps didn't make it easy:

The street our office building is on is called East H____ Ave.

We're on the south side which is in one city and has even numbers. The north side is in another city and has odd numbers.

West of us is a freeway and the numbers go up in sequence from a cross-street on the other side of that freeway until they reach us. Just past the freeway going away from us, both sides are part of the same city. (Some ways past the freeway it turns into West H____ Ave. and the numbers go up in the other direction.)

There is a housing / apartment development is across the street from us and has its own little named roads within, including H___ Place - giving it the same name and similar numbering including even numbers, but placing it in the other city.

Right at our cross street (we're on a corner), it loses the East designation and becomes simply H____ Ave. The numbering seems to jump - so while our building is 1500 E. H___ Ave. and the church "next" to us on the other side of the cross street is 1980 H___ Ave.

Not only that, but apparently BOTH streets we are on the corner of are the boundaries of the city we're in. The church is in the other city.

The address she was looking for was something like 1580 or 1620 H____ Ave. The lack of East made me guess, and we then confirmed, that past the church the numbers went down again - so she was headed the right way, but it was further down than she'd expected and the 1980 made her think she'd missed it.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PAMNANGEL 7/16/2012 6:54PM

    How nice. Seems like people seldom do RAOK enough and even less often come back to thank someone for their kindness.
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SAMI199 7/16/2012 6:18PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FUCHSIAGAL 7/12/2012 6:17PM

  That's a heartwarming story. Thank you for sharing it!

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MNJONES2 7/11/2012 6:36PM

    A wonderful reminder for us all - we all need kindness, we all need encouragement. You are a great example for us. THANK YOU!

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TBOGENER 7/11/2012 3:45PM

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SNAILTURBO2GO 7/11/2012 3:24PM

    Great blog, keep the positive attitude! Go girl!

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SHERIO5 7/11/2012 2:23PM

    I love this!



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AHTRAP 7/11/2012 5:21AM

    The street confusion reminds of of visiting Atlanta last year, they have a lot of roads with the word Peach in it, and a few different Peachtree road/street/avenue/boulevard, or so it seemed.

Nice when you get some tangible evidence that the random good you're doing is appreciated, above and beyond whatever satisfaction the doing alone brings you in the first place.

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SPARKFRAN514 7/11/2012 12:56AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
how nice of you most people would have not taken the time to walk with the person look for the address. I hope the lady will be helpful to some else when they need help. thanks for reminding us to be aware of those around us. emoticon

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MARYSTAN 7/10/2012 10:21PM

    A beautiful blog. I am so glad I read this, a very nice meditation to end the day! May each of us seek opportunities to "pay it forward" with random acts of kindness. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DENNETJ 7/10/2012 8:30PM

    It just goes to show how even things that we find to be very insignificant can really mean so much to someone else.

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KALANTHA 7/10/2012 8:19PM

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TANYA602 7/10/2012 8:03PM

    What a very powerful message!
Many years back, when the whole idea of RAoK began and there were books written, I began doing this with my students. They even wrote a class book of their own that they called "Recipes for Kindness." Your blog reminds me, as I am planning for next year, that with my homeroom class (I'll have a homeroom for the first time in 9 years!) I want to reintroduce this concept.
Your story truly moved me. Just as I could tell from your status, it moved you. I value you so much as an SP friend!
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FRANCES-AGAPE 7/10/2012 6:36PM

    emoticon

We are all in the
brotherhood
(& sisterhood)
of God


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BLESSINGS!



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RUNNERRACHEL 7/10/2012 1:52PM

    emoticonidea! emoticon

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_RAMONA 7/10/2012 1:39PM

    Great blog, Jennifer... and great philosophy!

LOVED this: "The help can go through many hands until some Knave stops its progress."

Have a great week!

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JERZGURL_NAN 7/10/2012 1:04PM

    what a nice surprise - well done

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SHEL_V2 7/10/2012 12:11PM

    emoticon

I love that you added an explanation of the confusing street numbers. I used to live in that part of the world, and I know what the "H" you're talking about.

I don't always spot the opportunities, but I do know that it is my job to get stuff off the top shelf at the grocery store for anyone who could use the help.

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TALENKARR1 7/10/2012 12:03PM

    I feel the same way. I have blogged about the same thing not to long ago. I believe in that commercail that use to play about paying it foward. one good deed begats another begats another and so on. I try to help others as much as possible. one of my favs is grabbing grocery carts on my way in to stores. when the people how work at these stores go to collect them, there heavy and bulky and run the risk of getting hit by some one only looking for a parking spot. so grabbing one or two carts not only is a nice thing to do but could save some ones life!

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ILOVEMALI 7/10/2012 11:59AM

    I agree with your sentiments. If I am to be judged in the Great Hereafter for one thing, I hope that I am judged for something that I did 23 years ago that ended up making a huge impact on a family. It was one of those things where I promise you that another person would have blown it off or have been too busy, and I was committed to making it happen. I am absolutely sure that there was Divine intervention in making it so -- there just can't be so much randomness in the world.

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ALWAYSOWNIT 7/10/2012 11:52AM

    I totally agree with your blog..Random act of kindness ,may be few minutes of our time but have the power to affect someone strongly..and vice versa too..I may not remember the people whom I helped but its really difficult to forget who helped us in times of need.

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LGAR519 7/10/2012 11:48AM

    I am not very familiar with paying it forward. I knew some people did things like that, and I have at times. But never knew it had a name. One of my favorites is loaning someone my store discount card when they forget theirs. That way they get several dollars off their final bill.

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MUSOLF6 7/10/2012 11:47AM

    emoticon

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MEH50BEWELL 7/10/2012 11:25AM

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JENNCABA 7/10/2012 10:20AM

    emoticon emoticon

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NEWMOM20121 7/10/2012 10:04AM

    Great blog.

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2BEABETTERME 7/10/2012 9:57AM

    I love to this! And, I need to do it more!
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APONI_KB 7/10/2012 9:08AM

    That's a very cool thing to do. I'm glad she came back and thanked you.

I told a blind woman on the train yesterday that her dog was chewing on his little shoes. Does that count? I mean it isn't like she could see what he was doing and those things are like $65.

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KATHYM617 7/10/2012 8:59AM

    I am also a big fan of RAOKs -- even if no one pays it forward, *I* feel good, knowing I made a difference, however small, in someone else's life. One of my regular RAOKs is seeing someone's parking meter about to expire and popping in a couple of quarters. My most outlandish was paying for another woman's groceries at the store -- she had left her wallet in her purse and grabbed her kids and the diaper bag and was going to have to abandon the groceries and bring the kids back home and come back and do it again. So I paid and gave her my address. She came by that evening with cash to pay for the groceries -- and a bouquet of flowers to say thanks. All of a sudden, I think our city felt a lot smaller and friendlier, and not just to her but to other people in the store who saw. I hope some of them were inspired to expand their comfort zone a bit too.

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MRS.CARLY 7/10/2012 8:52AM

    emoticon Great blog!

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PURPLELVR7 7/10/2012 7:39AM

    emoticon

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FLEURGARDEN 7/10/2012 7:16AM

    A church I used to go to had a group that went out monthly to do RAoK. They would pass out cold water at the park on a hot summer day and a wide variety of things. One of my favorites was when they went to a strip mall with cleaninig supplies and offered to clean the restrooms in each of the businesses - that really shocked the business owners and made an impact.

A little bit of kindness goes a long way, and the world would be a much better place if everyone tried to pay it forward in some little way every day.

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RG_DFW 7/10/2012 7:14AM

    emoticon

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KARL1266 7/10/2012 6:34AM

    Very cool. While not always necessary, it is nice to see the end results of our little acts of kindness. Kinda reaffirms the reason we do them.

Nice blog!

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MSLZZY 7/10/2012 6:34AM

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HEAT7918 7/10/2012 6:22AM

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Great blog - thank you!

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 7/10/2012 6:18AM

    Neat

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SBNORMAL 7/10/2012 5:37AM

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SASSYLJB 7/10/2012 5:20AM

    We all seem to forget how little random acts of kidness impacts others. It takes so a short amount of our time to make a big difference in someones life!
A reminder I think we all need!

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WENNII 7/10/2012 4:26AM

    I love this, it's so inspiring and uplifting to receive just a little help and kindness from a stranger just when you need it. Off I go to find someone new to let know how awesome they are for taking the first step.

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Don't spend too much time looking back

Sunday, July 08, 2012

I've mentioned this before, I think. I was raised a Jehovah's Witness. I'm not now and haven't been since before I had my first child at 20, but there are some things I do still have from that upbringing.

One is my lackadaisical approach to holidays / celebrations of any sort. I don't have any of the food traditions or the family gathering expectations. Which does make my life easier in that regard.

Another is my knowledge of Bible teachings and stories. I may not be a Christian any more, but I read the entire Bible through at least twice, know all the common Bible stories and some of the more uncommon ones. It would be hard to NOT know given 18 years of regular meetings.

Jehovah's Witnesses don't just meet for a Mass on Sunday. We had three days a week - one a small-group book study, one a full-congregation meeting with both a participation session to help us prepare for witnessing to others and a study session, and one our Sunday/weekend meeting which had both a lecture and a study session.

Anyway, the upshot of that is little things like Bible stories do still come to mind when they seem fitting.

One came to mind the other day while at the gym - Lot's wife.

It's a story that most Christians have at least some familiarity with. Lot and his family lived in Sodom & Gomorrah, cities that God had decided should be destroyed. Lot and his family are told to leave the city and flee, to not look back. Lot's wife fails to heed that command, looking back longingly on the things she has had to leave behind, and becomes a pillar of salt.

Lot's wife could have had a future in a new place. At the time they began to flee, she perhaps wanted to be away from there as much as Lot and their daughters did. NOTHING that she left behind should have been as important as surviving with her family. And yet ... she looked back with longing.

Sometimes in emergencies we see people act similarly. They refuse to come out of a burning building until they can salvage things like family photos. Living is more important than objects and yet they turn back from fleeing because of the lure of those objects.


How does that tie into health and fitness?

What was my life like while I was gaining weight. Almost daily getting a tall hot chocolate, an apple fritter and a glazed old-fashioned donut for breakfast. Daily picking up a pair of king-sized candy bars for a morning snack, often a Snickers and a Hershey's Dark Chocolate bar. Often getting Super Nachos or a Super Burrito (super implying the size was huge) from the little place across the street and munching on it from lunch until mid-afternoon. Regularly getting a footlong Subway or Togo's sandwich, chips, and three cookies, sometimes even a broccoli and cheese soup. Often cooking up a Hamburger Helper and either getting to eat all of it or half (if my daughter was around to eat the other half) or a Tuna Helper (or Pasta-Roni that I added tuna to) and adding mixed veggies and eating the whole thing. Routinely filling a 32-ounce cup with milk, adding heaping spoonfuls of chocolate powder and drinking it. Nightly plunking myself in front of a computer and playing a game rather than dealing with any of life's stresses or problems.

That was my lifestyle for YEARS.

I know it's not a sustainable lifestyle. I know it doesn't make me who I want to be. So I had to flee it.

As I continue to improve my life, I find it is equally important to not spend time "looking back". While I won't turn into a pillar of salt if I look back, keeping the desires in my heart to return to those habits / behaviors would serve me ill.

I can learn from it. I'm not going to forget what it was like. But I cannot and should not turn to look back on it with longing.

When we think "diet" - a temporary change to get us to our goal weight - we keep looking back. We don't truly flee the unhealthy and unworkable lifestyle that drove our weight gain. We just put in the motions of fleeing, but look back with longing on a life that wasn't good for us.

I think of Lot's wife in the story. Had she not turned back, what might her future have been like? She'd have been there to see her daughters marry, been there to create a new home in a land with better neighbors. She'd have been alive to tell stories of what she left behind while being thankful to have survived it. Instead, she couldn't let it go and lost all of that future in her longing for what she was leaving behind.

Are there things you are having trouble letting go of? Things that keep luring you to look back, to stop fleeing from that unhealthy life that got you to a point where you said "No more!" and consider saying "Oh, just one more won't hurt"?

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SAMI199 7/16/2012 6:22PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

I love the way you think & the way you get me thinking!

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BUSYBEE37 7/13/2012 1:05PM

    Oh that's a good blog.

I was just thinking while reading it that I was often annoyed that I must 'diet' and don't want to.

I must adjust my thinking cap, it's not on straight.

Thanks for the insight.

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SPARKFRAN514 7/11/2012 12:47AM

    Thank you for the great blog i was spending time his week looking back and say i could have should have wonder if this would have been a better idea. told my self i didn't want to be turned to salt for looking back. what i did on my snack attack is done and over i just need to move forward thanks for reminding me the importance of look forward. emoticon emoticon emoticon


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MARYSTAN 7/10/2012 10:31PM

    emoticonSo much truth! I love your honesty and you have given me so much to think about. A familiar story to ponder when being tempted to give in to unhealthy passions.

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TALENKARR1 7/10/2012 12:10PM

    I agree with I lovemali I am happy I subscribe to your blogg another one to go into my insperation file.

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TANYA602 7/9/2012 4:51PM

    So many truths here. When my husband uses the word diet I almost cringe - what we are doing now is "lifestyle" and there is NO going back to foot long subs and bags of chips and anything else that sabotaged living a healthy life through my 30s and 40s. Thank goodness I finally learned. Learned a lot.

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DENNETJ 7/9/2012 2:30PM

    I just love this way of looking at things. Can you imagine if we could just 100% turn our backs on something like Lot did. Hearing the calling from God and just walking away without turning back. I can just imagine where I would be in my life if I could just say that is it I'm never eating ice cream again and just walk away without looking back. Amazing to think about.

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HOPEFULHIPPO 7/9/2012 1:08PM

    GREAT ANALOGY!!!

The only thing I find difficult to "flee" is my coffee/diet pepsi. Everything else was easy. I have pretty much left meats and sodium and most of the processed foods, but the coffee....



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ILOVEMALI 7/9/2012 11:58AM

    I am so happy that I subscribe to your blog.

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KISAKATT 7/9/2012 11:19AM

    Great post! I'm not quite out of the bad habits, so I completely get this thought! Weekends are hard for me, brunch and drinking are the things I look back on (and usually return to lately!) I think a key part of this process is replacing the things you look back on with healthier habits that can keep you looking forward, I'm going to continue to work on this!

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RUNNERRACHEL 7/9/2012 11:14AM

    emoticon I like your analogies! Great making the connections. Looking to the unhealthy past with longing is never healthy.
emoticon blog

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APONI_KB 7/9/2012 8:58AM

    When I was in college, every Friday we went to this place rathskeller I think it was called for 9 layer lasanga and pitchers of beer. I can't even imagine eating something like that now. Yea best to move on and forget it.

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MOM_TO_AKI 7/9/2012 5:16AM

    emoticon post.

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CUDDLEY51 7/9/2012 1:00AM

    Excellent blog, truly thought provoking!! Thanks for sharing

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FRANCES-AGAPE 7/9/2012 12:51AM

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Have a GREAT week

BLESSINGS!

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GOING-STRONG 7/8/2012 11:46PM

    Great blog... thanks for sharing!

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SABLENESS 7/8/2012 10:53PM

    Good points. Thanks!

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KARL1266 7/8/2012 10:03PM

    Another great blog. The way you tied everything together is just brilliant. I have always looked back...not with longing, but with an air of satisfaction knowing that I have turned a corner and will continue to move forward. I don't want to forget my past, but I certainly don't want to go back there!

Thanks for putting things like this in perspective. You truly have a way with words.

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FINALLYBEINGME 7/8/2012 9:23PM

    Great blog..I think I miss having a comfort zone the most when I look back..those old comfy habits that were completely self-destructive. Thanks for the thoughtful blog. Have a great week! emoticon

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_RAMONA 7/8/2012 6:37PM

    Thank you, Jennifer... for killing me softly with your song. It's funny how my thoughts have been playing around these edges lately... more in terms of how committed I am to some hard changes that need to be lifetime changes... can I do this for a lifetime? Do I care enough about myself to choose wellness over taste, or the pleasure of certain foods, or the pressure of convention? Do I have the strength to step out boldly without apology in situations where it would be so much easier to blend and not risk criticism?

I can't say I have any answers, but I feel better about the process.



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FLEURGARDEN 7/8/2012 6:15PM

    Great analogy! It's always so much easier to stay in our comfort zone, than to move forward into the unknown. Even if a better life is waiting for us, we don't always see it, or are afraid to believe it. Lot's wife is similar to when Moses let the Hebrews out of Egypt. They couldn't wait to get out of bondage and enter the Promised Land, but then on their way they decided bondage wasn't so bad and they wanted to go back. There are great life lessons in those stories, so we need to learn from then and keep pressing forward towards our goals on a daily basis.

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EAGLES_WINGS 7/8/2012 6:09PM

    I have heard look back but don't stare. It is important to know where we came from and where we are going. I can relate to years overeating and then years of trying to get it under control. I did better when I was younger but after I divorced it was a downhill slide. I am glad that today I am making changes and don't have to look back longingly on pots of pasta or midnight binges. Though, I am slowly making progress I am confident to look upon the "new land" full of promise. It is greener pastures but hopefully filled with achieving goals on the pathway to success. Not good intentions laid astray. Thanks for sharing your experience, strength and hope. I appreciate your wisdom and your candor.
emoticonPruning away at old behaviors, results in new beginnings. emoticon emoticon emoticon
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MUSOLF6 7/8/2012 6:05PM

    emoticon emoticon

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FITANDFAITHFUL1 7/8/2012 5:02PM

    Thanks for sharing this post. It takes courage to share about the "Old" you and I so appreciate you doing this. I can relate to the super sized, large quantities, high calories, and extremely unhealthy choices of eating that you shared about. And that phrase "to longingly look back" really gets me....convicts me to examine my own thoughts and perspective on a daily basis. This post was "food for thought."
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SUZANASCM 7/8/2012 4:22PM

    Great post emoticon

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MICHELLE_391 7/8/2012 4:01PM

    Excellent, thoughtful blog as always! You know, the story of Lot's wife has always bothered me, because she is just known as "Lot's Wife." She doesn't even have a name.

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ALWAYSOWNIT 7/8/2012 3:51PM

    This is such an insightful blog..thank you for writing it!!

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 7/8/2012 3:51PM

    I love the story of Lot's wife. There are so many life lessons there. I love how you put it to weight loss.

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KALANTHA 7/8/2012 3:51PM

    Really GREAT blog!

Two things I'd be tempted to look back for: hot fudge sundaes with almonds and cheesesteak hoagies.

But I'm getting stronger every day (and so are you) and won't be tempted anymore.

Thank you for your wisdom!

Kathy

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PATTOMMC3 7/8/2012 3:48PM

    So very well said!

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LOSE4LIFE47 7/8/2012 3:47PM

    That is so true--we can't look back. Lot's wife is a great example!!

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