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It's only mid-December, right?

Monday, December 31, 2012

emoticon emoticon

Seriously, somewhere in the first week or so of December I completely fizzled. It showed in how I've been eating. It showed in no new words added to my novel. It showed in my productivity (or lack of) at work. I "woke up" a bit too late in the month to make much of December, but did turn things around and feel like I'm revved up again as I head into January.

I'll just call it a sloppy pit stop. emoticon

One thing I completely missed was reviewing my Winter goals and setting up my "by Spring" goals. Winter started on 21 December (and let me tell you, even in our temperate region it came in like a lion). Here's what I wanted to get done by then:

1) Have the framework of my mission statement (7 Habits) worked out by the end of this month. Keep it in mind and review how it has fit at the end of this season.
emoticon Had the framework done.
emoticon emoticon Completely have not looked at it since. November was a focus on NaNoWriMo and December was fuzzy-brained.

2) List out specific career questions I have and do the research. (More than just likely wages - stuff like typical hours, whether job postings want experience, turnover reasons, anything that could help make a decision clearer.)
emoticon Well, it has been THOUGHT about several times, but I haven't written any of the questions down and I certainly haven't researched a thing.

3) Re-evaluate my budget as I come up on the end of the year. Things are stabilizing more, but still have dental work to get done, medical isn't happening this year, might end up with a tiny refund or owing a little, so better to plan now and control my numbers a little better.
emoticon Money is the one thing I have been controlling rather well - with the worst blips always being when DDa or DS needs money for something.

4) Get out and do something that involves interacting with other people than coworkers, family or internet friends. Mystery dinner theater at local restaurant? Dancing at a night club? Volunteering around Thanksgiving? Not looking for ongoing involvement - just one-time for now.
emoticon One of the best actions for this was the NaNoWriMo meetups. I made sure to attend and be sociable. I've also joined up with a group of several who are staying in touch as a writer's group and attended their first meetup. I've also gone out dancing twice as well been holding friendly conversations with a regular bus driver (who happens to have run in the Rock 'N' Roll Half and go to the gym regular - so lots of familiar topics).

5) Either have paid for personal training session to learn more free weight work, form, and benchmark lifts -or- have it planned into my budget going into the new year.
emoticon It is planned into my budget, BUT I've reconsidered timing. January is sure to have the gym full of New Year's new members, so I'll wait for the lull as that dies down when deals are offered. In the meantime, I've been doing more dumbbell work, did a few of the benchmarks with lighter than max weight to get the feel of them, and am rebuilding my workouts already to be more efficient and effective for me.

6) Vote. My voter registration address change didn't get done like I thought (I mailed it, but used my work address since I do that with all my money stuff - and they didn't send any notice that they rejected it for that reason), so I have to work a little harder to find out where to go vote and to find the information on the races and petitions I get to vote on.
emoticon Had all my decisions written out, found out where to go, and voted first thing in the morning. I was marked as inactive, but otherwise it went smoothly.

So, 4 out of 6 - better than I actually expected. emoticon

Since tomorrow is the last day of December, I'm also going to look at how I did on those goals:

== December goals ==

1) See 165 on the scale.
emoticon Not happening. Those couple of lost weeks of December involved an unhealthy bit of overeating. On the plus side, I never climbed past 172, but I also never dropped lower than 167.5 throughout the month. I do hope to bring it down to 165 by the time we start BLC#21 or the first weigh-in after.

2) Full military pushup.
emoticon emoticon I'd say that next up is a pull-up, but I remember being in 4th or 5th grade and not being able to do one. Next up actually is getting more comfortable with lunges - ideally to the point I can implement dumbbell lunges in my ST.

3) Another 20,000 words in novel.
emoticon Got it all moved out of the trial software I wrote it in, got it posted for the writer's group, and then spent all my time trying to catch up on everything and going fuzzy-brained.

4) Treat snacks down to two a day.
emoticon Definitely didn't accomplish this. In fact, fuzzy-brained antics involved such things as 3 servings of truffles, 2 or 3 puddings a day, and more. Figured out, however, that part of my problem was excessive cardio and filling the extra calories needed to meet my burn with treats rather than more healthy fare.

5) Reorganize storage.
emoticon Still have not made it over there. There's definitely a part of me that wants to just forget it is there - even as I pay for it monthly. Might put this off until Spring though - the short days make getting over there with sunlight to spare difficult and no heating means this cold would be uncomfortable.

6) Between Rounds challenge
emoticon Might still tighten it up a little and pretty it up presentation-wise, but have all the ideas to get us FIRED UP for BLC#21.

Only 2 out of 6 for December goals. However, I've already been correcting and adjusting and feel back on track to launch into January and 2013.


So, what do I want to accomplish moving forward?

== January goals ==
1) Dental hygiene back in as a consistent habit.
2) Write in my novel at least 30 minutes a day - schedule this.
(*Setting both of these up as Other Goals and adding SparkStreak to track and remind me.*)
3) Weight at or below 165 consistently.
4) Update my budgets on website for 2013.
5) Write out the questions related to Vet Tech that I've already thought of
6) Write out what exactly I want out of sessions with a personal trainer so I'm ready

== by Spring goals ==
1) Novel first draft completed
2) Correct my work productivity to a level acceptable to me (not going to put the details here)
3) Get comfortable with lunges - correct my form, strengthen muscles, figure out what I need to make them not feel so awkward and clumsy
4) Personal training - watch for specials and get a couple of sessions when I like the price.
5) Taxes filed (and paid, if necessary).
6) Not mandatory, but would be fun (and doable) to hit my weight goal and be swapped to maintenance by my birthday or Spring


As I've mentioned elsewhere, I don't generally set New Year's Resolutions as a tradition. However, I do have one resolution for this year:

I resolve to find a way to volunteer and give back to my local community.

Whether that's reading to someone, filling boxes with food products, or giving blood, it is time to put some action behind my desire to help. (I've had bad volunteer experiences, the sort where you're treated like slaves chained by guilt rather than willing volunteers - so I tend to avoid official volunteering. I want to unload that baggage and simply be picky enough up front.)


Well, there we go. I'm ready for 2013! emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:



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CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 1/1/2013 3:30PM

    I love how thoroughly you plan things and have the follow through to see how you did. Great resolution. emoticon

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TANYA602 1/1/2013 11:13AM

    That November/December rush hit us all so it's a good time to reflect and think about even plan ahead to next year when you'll be in maintenance. Your goals and plans for January and into spring are fabulous- though when I read the one about taxes I nearly choked - I can't go there yet! hahahaha
One thing to add to your list is to be proud of how far you've come and remind yourself of this on a daily basis!

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MNJONES2 1/1/2013 1:18AM

    You are so determined! YAHOO! Have a wonderful 2013

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GOING-STRONG 1/1/2013 12:39AM

    You made great progress in 2012 and 2013 is going to be stellar!


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TEADYBEAR77 12/31/2012 8:54PM

    You have some fantastic goals for 2013. I believe you can do this. Now just work your plan. You're going to have a wonderful 2013

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SHERIO5 12/31/2012 7:51PM


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WOMANOBRONZE 12/31/2012 12:11PM

    I always thought that raising good children was giving back to the community!


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ILOVEMALI 12/31/2012 12:04PM

    I'll do a list, too. We will accomplish our goals together! BTW -- one of my goals is to have lunch with you when I hit my weight loss goal!

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SAINTBETH 12/31/2012 10:43AM

    You'll catch up

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RG_DFW 12/31/2012 9:08AM

    and Happy New Year!

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KARL1266 12/31/2012 8:32AM

    Great job on the goals you achieved and, believe it or not, great job on those you didn't. You recognized the situations and have made forward progress to make whatever changes are needed to correct the mid-December blahs(?). It is never a good feeling to miss a goal, but when one can spot the reasons and take corrective measures to avoid (when possible) those pitfalls I count that as well done.

Your resolution strikes a chord with me as well as that will be something I will be looking to do as well.

Good luck with your Goals towards Spring!

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

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KSCHRAUT 12/31/2012 7:39AM

    Wonderful goals! I have no doubt you'll be back on track for January and 2013!!

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CHRISTINASP 12/31/2012 5:52AM

    Very well thought out goals! 'Go for it!'

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DOVESEYES 12/31/2012 3:31AM

    Yes mid december thats right !!!

You do seem to be very ready for the New Year and very good at planning. Maybe a calendar is in order to keep up with the dates???

Happy New Year. emoticon

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Binge or general Overeating?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

This is a question that has been rattling around in my head for a couple weeks now, and I keep swinging back and forth in my answer to myself.

Where this started was with a few days this month that I ate well over my calorie range, pretty much eating whenever I felt hungry or a desire to eat. One of those involved eating an entire box of cookies over a couple of hours (minus the one I'd had the day before). In the past I've also gone through most of a jar of peanut butter and over half a pound of dark chocolate-covered almonds (on separate occasions - not together).

Thing is, I don't call them binges. I call them overeating. Those were very separate in my mind -- like the difference between being emotionally depressed over a negative event such as a breakup and suffering from depression.

Then I read a Sparkfriend's blog - a Sparkfriend who truly suffers from trouble with bingeing, struggles with trigger foods. She was describing foods on which she would normally binge and a process of imagining not just how much she'd want it, how good it would be, but beyond the first bite to what the bingeing would be like and how she'd feel for days after.

My reaction was a very distinct relief that I don't go through anything like that. I don't eat so fast I'm in danger of choking. I don't feel compelled. I don't feel disgusted by the flavors.

And suddenly in my mind I was comparing my reaction to something else from my past.


I'm not an alcoholic. (No, that's not denial. I really truly have no issue with alcohol. Heck, I have several bottles in my room right now that I probably last opened two or three years ago and had a couple drinks.)

Anyway, I used to have a somewhat misguided idea of what made someone an alcoholic. I remember some guy that lived across the way from my mother's house who eventually died of alcohol poisoning. He was always at some stage of being drunk, day and night.

The next was my first "best friend". He would cruise with a friend of his, and that involved a bottle of tequila while heading to the city south of us, stopping there to buy another bottle of tequila and drinking that while heading north.

That added to my mental idea of what an alcoholic was like - drinking an absurd quantity of hard alcohol, being constantly drunk or drinking to get there.

After attending an AA meeting with a roommate who wanted moral support, I "learned" that alcoholics COULD NOT have a single drink or they'd fall off the wagon. They'd drink in secret, hide alcohol, and start early in the day. Basically I had this list of "rules" in my head that defined when someone was an alcoholic.

As I hit 21, I started being a nightclub regular, enjoying live shows and dancing - and having a drink or two. I met my EX at a club, where he was drinking with friends and dancing. I started off with this idea in my head that he only drank socially. He didn't drink at home unless they were having some big family get-together, at which the cases of beer came out.

And I put on blinders at some point, using those very same rules to "prove" to myself that he wasn't an alcoholic. He didn't spend every day drunk. He didn't start drinking in the morning. He didn't usually hit the harder liquor except when we were out at clubs. Somehow I even shrugged off his DUI, even as I made sure he didn't drive our car after any social drinking following that. I just explained it as normal drinking followed by impaired thinking.

Then after our divorce, he started having anxiety attacks, being really moody (not depressed so much as feeling "useless" and apathetic), and drinking most evenings. It became more obvious that the number of family get-togethers were increasing, often just him and cousins his age doing so just to drink "socially". Then at one point DDa mentioned offhand that he was hiding beer where his mother wouldn't find it. It wasn't to keep her out of it - she doesn't drink at all.

It clicked suddenly. He was and is an alcoholic, no doubt about it. He can't have just one beer. He was creating reasons to drink, spending more on drink than he could afford, endangering his job and worse. He eventually got another DUI, mandated AA classes, has been on and off the wagon. Scary enough? He dragged my DS and DDa along to one and I had to challenge DDa's automatic certainty that she wasn't an enabler or affected by his drinking.

So coming back to the concept of bingeing, I had to start asking myself if I was just creating a distinction that wasn't really there - or whether there really is a difference.

What is a binge? General definitions indicate it is usually a short period of time during which something is engaged in to excess - alcohol, food, shopping, etc. A few of the definitions added in words like compulsive or unrestrained, but the basic definition usually didn't.

That still didn't really answer it for me. I generally don't cram the food into my mouth as fast as possible. I had 11 cookies, yes, but they took me about two hours to eat. I'd eat one, go back to doing what I was doing, then maybe 15 minutes later be thinking about how great that had tasted and really wanting all those flavors and sensations again. I don't scarf them as fast as possible. For example, a single spoonful of peanut butter usually takes me several minutes to lick clean. I don't go through an emotional roller coaster before, during or after any day or food I overeat. I just adjust my food for the next few days, add some extra activity, track what I ate, and review what happened around that.

Then I found something that might explain why I'm having trouble with the words. A binge is not necessarily the same as "Binge Eating Disorder". I definitely don't see myself in any of the symptoms of the disorder beyond the simple fact of being able to eat an excess of certain foods over a shorter period of time than it should be eaten.

At the same time, it isn't simply over-eating. It's one thing on a day when I go out with my DS and DDa, eat at a restaurant, have movie snacks, and stop for a hot chocolate and snack after. That's definitely going to put me over my calories for the day, but the average person looking at what and when I ate wouldn't think it unusual for a special occasion. Eating 11 cookies in a couple hours from a box that says the serving size is 1 cookie? Most reasonable people, myself included, consider that excessive. I didn't feel compelled. I just didn't say no when I thought about having another. I've also spontaneously stopped without finishing when I make a decision to.

I think what I've come to is that by basic definition, I do on rare occasion have a food binge - but I don't have any of the indicators of a disorder.

What I've learned, though, is to be very careful about saying that. Making that sort of eating a habit in any way is dangerous. Who is to say that someone suffering from such a disorder didn't originally start off with just a mild binge here and there? The cause is not known, after all.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ILOVEMALI 12/31/2012 1:55AM

    Lots to think about. I don't binge -- but I do overeat! Gotta stop this!

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CHRISTINASP 12/30/2012 2:07PM

    Very good questions. I posted about them quite a few times in my own blog as I think I could be called a 'binge eater'.
And yes. I think your last thought is very correct. I think binge eaters start as people who overeat.
I also read recently that binge eating (as in 'Binge Eating Disordered') can develop VERY quickly once the person has a few times had the experience that the binge eating actually 'works' (be it very temporarily) to numb out or deal with strong negative emotions.
I tend to think that the more sensitive a person is and/or the more trauma he/she has been through the 'easier' it is to become a binge eater.

I believe that the difference between you with the 11 cookies and a 'binge eater' is that indeed you do not (yet! and please don't start!) use the cookies as a way to numb your emotions and/or to change the focus of your thougths. (Being mad with oneself for bingeing may feel better than being mad with oneself for other reasons, in that sense bingeing offers 'forgetting').
I wrote an even longer reply to your entry; I think I'd better turn it into a blog entry of my own... Thanks for the thought -provoking blog!

Comment edited on: 12/30/2012 2:24:58 PM

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KSCHRAUT 12/29/2012 6:15PM

    Thanks for the blog. Always appreciate hearing what you think about different topics :)

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UNIQUELYBETH 12/29/2012 12:49PM

    Thanks so much for sharing really gives me something to think about. emoticon

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DIET_FRIEND 12/29/2012 11:44AM

    thoughtful blog, as usual. Keep 'em coming!

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DEB9021 12/29/2012 11:43AM

    This is an interesting blog and something we all need to think about.

It's something we all do in some form, whether it's excessive eating, alcohol, tv watching, or whatever it is we do that works against the goals we have set for ourselves. I''m not sure the label matters much. Because the awesome thing is that you've recognized and acknowledged when you do something that is out of line with what you want to accomplish. And sometimes I step out of line in a good way--to do something that is really fun, or makes me feel spoiled or pampered, but in the end helps me take a needed break and leaves me more energized and focused--ready to get back to meeting those goals I've set for myself.

But if instead i find myself regularly throwing up obstacles that me leave me feeling guilty and totally off course, it's time to ask why? Are my goals not really in line with where I want to be? Are they too ambitious so that I can't really keep to them while feeling healthy, happy and energized for daily life? Or am I in some other "funk" unrelated that I just need to find some healthier ways of dealing with? But the awesome thing is, you're not lying to yourself about what you're doing, not afraid to share the issue as you think about it--we have ALL been there in some way with some bad habit! But as long as you acknowledge it, think on it, and decide consciously and with purpose and conviction whether its a bad habit that you can indulge and maybe counteract with other good habits, or whether its something you want to and therefore will change, you're doing it right! We're all working on changing our unhealthy habits to healthy ones one step at a time. That's what this is all about, right? Good luck, and keep at it!

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SHERIO5 12/29/2012 11:36AM

    Interesting topic, as usual. emoticon

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1EMMA2011 12/29/2012 11:30AM

    Remember too that there is codependency. So the alcoholic is partnered with the codependent. I am a recovering codependent.

I agree completely and have the same experiences as you. I'm not a "food aholic". I do have food issues. Sometimes I use food to numb my emotions.

The important thing for me is to feel my feelings (grieve), to meditate (quiet my mind) and to work toward wisdom (right action).

Everyone is different though. Everyone's path is different.

The most important thing is that we try to find our path and respect each other's differences.

Thank you for another thought provoking positive blog.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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NELLJONES 12/29/2012 8:30AM

    As a recovering alcoholic myself, I learned in AA that it doesn't matter what causes it, we have to follow a 12 Step Program to learn to live with it. I have blogged in the past about some of the differences. Binge eating won't land you in jail or the hospital with tubes going in and out, but does that make it any more acceptable to you? A jury of your peers won't convict you for overeating, but do you need that threat to keep you from overeating? My sobriety is a gift from God: no human power could have restored me to sanity. I don't drink because I love the life I have and it will all disappear with ONE SIP of an alcoholic beverage. And I love my appearance at goal weight. I don't want to again endure the agony of self loathing that will always come with overindulgence in food. The discomfort of dealing with life's stresses within the parameters of my food plan is less than the misery of overeating. I start every day with that reminder and tell myself again as many times as needed during the day. I cannot avoid the pain inflicted on me by life, but I CAN avoid the pain I inflict on myself by overeating.

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MICHELLE_391 12/29/2012 7:50AM

    That's a tricky question. I suppose the clinical definition of "binge" is around somewhere. I don't think binge eating has to be a disorder OR a function of emotional distress (or elation.) I tend to think of it as self-sabotage. I know what I want for myself, but then ignore the long term goal and suddenly embrace the short term one, which is, another cookie.

Some of it could be environmental. Around this time of year, an over-abundance of food is suddenly acceptable. Sweets are a huge part of that. And although we may deny ourselves for a little while, the "me too" crowd effect/ influence kicks in. Why not eat cookies? Everyone else is! That one cookie triggered the part of your brain that reacts as it does to opiates. And then the binge commences.

In any case, it is food abuse. We are supposed to be eating for sustenance.Food=fuel. But our taste buds, brains, and society say otherwise. Is the occasional binge a disorder? Probably not.

I learned from an AA meeting (also in support of someone else) that binge drinking is alcohol abuse, but doesn't necessarily mean that someone who binge drinking is an alcoholic. Drinking too much at the occasional party is abuse of the substance. The problem with alcohol is that our inhibitions are lowered with every sip.

Do you suppose it is the same thing with fat and sugar?

I also struggle with this issue and think a lot about it. This is a great discussion! Thank you for starting it! emoticon

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DOVESEYES 12/29/2012 7:21AM

    this is one of my 'soapbox topics'

an alcoholic can live without alcohol but an overweiight/obese person still needs to eat.

I am a 'recovering emotional eater' thanks to Sparkpeople I've been able to learn the triggers and realize what I am doing and usually stop or not start at all. This is huge for me.

I'm sure everyone of us has a tale to tell on this really good blog topic

Thanks for letting us have our say

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 12/29/2012 6:51AM

    I have problems with both.

What I consider to be "binge eating" happens when I am alone. I go into a strange state where I do not track, almost deliberately. I eat everything in sight until I A) run out of things to eat, B) come to my senses, or C) get so sick I can't function

Here is a blog post about a full-on binge that happened just as I was approaching maintenance:


Normal overeating happens when I eat more than I need to, but I'm conscious of it and often tracking. It also happens at social occasions where the temptations are there, there are other people eating, and tracking seems awkward.

Fortunately I haven't experienced a full-on binge-until-sick since June. After that happened, I finally said, "Enough" and went to find a dietitian and a therapist. So far so good, fingers crossed. I was having about 2-4 episodes like that per year before I went and found some professional help, and it seems to be working.

There have been smaller episodes of solo eating but most of them have been tracked, even if just after the fact. It helps that I keep only minimal amounts of food at home. They have a fridge at work and I prepare and eat most of my meals there. It is safer because there are people usually around.

Comment edited on: 12/29/2012 6:54:09 AM

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UNIQDRGNFLY 12/29/2012 5:56AM

    I can relate to this and have done much soul-searching and research regarding these issues. I too was once married to an alcoholic, who eventually died from a bad dose of cocaine.

I came to these conclusions: One being, pain. A pain so hurtful deep inside a person, they don't know how to deal or even heal from it. Two, hormones. There is so many factors where hormones are concerned in our bodies, with the most publicized one being the male and female ones. But there are many more that our body depends upon in order to function.

One of my most major conclusions has to do with the function of proper nutrition. So many conflicting "must haves" from different points of views with this. Learning that wheat works like an opiate in our brains was truly an eye opener. Personally testing this by eliminating it from my diet, my cravings are non-existent. It really made me wonder if this one thing contributes to alcoholism? I am not sure, but IMO, it is a possibility. Here too are many factors, such as genetics and whatnot.

It is said that our guts is our true brain as this part of our anatomy works in concert with our literal brain. Never would have even considered wheat having effects on our thinking process.

We do our best one day to the next and accept that we may never have all the answers to the mysteries of the body/ my concession.


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Biggest Loser Challenge, Round #21

Thursday, December 27, 2012

For anyone who has seen my blogs about various things in BLC#20, and has thought it might be fun to try out a challenge like that, registration is now open to new people (new to the BLCs, that is, or even those who missed out on the previous one but would like to return).

It starts with joining the registration team. If that sounds like something you'd like to do, or you have questions about what a Biggest Loser Challenge is like, feel free to send me a SparkMail. Space is limited (teams do have a limit to the number of members and there's only as many teams as there are active leaders for) and registration must be completed before 16 January 2013.

At the most basic level, a Biggest Loser Challenge is 12 weeks of:

1) Weighing in once a week
2) Popping into your team's thread and chatting with your teammates at least three times a week
3) Participating in a variety of challenges at the level you are able - everything from eating freggies to doing strength training to taking 10-15 minutes of ME time.

I emoticon my current team and those teammates who stuck it out through thick and thin during the 12 weeks of BLC#20. (And there certainly were some trials and tribulations some OUTLAWS went through! Don't think it will be easy, but don't be afraid of the difficulties - the whole team will have your back!)

I'm looking forward to seeing the new faces that join us, or if I get moved, seeing the all-new-to-me faces of another great group.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LEVELPATHS 12/31/2012 3:35AM


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GOING-STRONG 12/30/2012 12:08AM


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TEADYBEAR77 12/28/2012 10:31AM

    I would love it. I like a challenge.

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KENDRACARROLL 12/27/2012 11:06PM

    Naw, thanks. I did about half of BLC20, yes, I'm one of the drop outs :(
I don't play well by other people's rules and did not much care for the challenges.
I guess it's one of those things you either love or hate.
Good luck to you with BLC21.

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RUNNINGWILD 12/27/2012 9:48PM

    Awww, we emoticon you, too!!!

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MICHELLE_391 12/27/2012 8:34PM

    Sounds great! I'm tempted, but I'm so bad at following through and staying active in teams. Distractions, distractions, and a tad bit of laziness....

I look forward to hearing your progress!

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DIET_FRIEND 12/27/2012 7:08PM

    Sounds like fun!

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 12/27/2012 5:47PM

    Cool beans! emoticon

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3500 calories adds up to what?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Some of you may have seen the status on my feed this past week:

BLUE42DOWN wonders if anyone knows the actual source study / calculations used to come up with 3500 calories in a pound of fat. We hear that so often, but can't find any reference to the source.

I wanted to add the three links other Sparkers gave in the comments here and talk about where my mind had been rattling around with this.


This link is abstract (sort of a summary of a research study, but not the actual study unless I want to pay). However, I did learn two very important things from it.


Interestingly, this was one link I found when I was trying to work it out and the math wasn't making sense. I got just as stuck on where she pulled 87% from as where the 3500 came from to begin with. (And her focus is more on griping that the fact we don't all gain 10 pounds on the extra 50 calories we aren't cutting was a bit off-track I think given how approximate most of our numbers are.)


This one is an article based on the study PKCTTS linked and was actually pretty spot on some of the questions I had.


What set me wondering in the first place was that we ALWAYS hear that 3500 number, every online calculator uses that in conjunction with "how many pounds of fat do you want to lose a week", but I had never once seen or heard anyone refer to a source or an equation that proved it. It was like saying "The sky is blue" and everyone nodding in agreement.

One day I wondered why we never hear about how many calories equal a pound of muscle. I went trying to search for that answer and mostly found back-and-forth comments by people on body-building forums. The general consensus seemed to be around 1500 calories (with a reminder that we can only gain a certain amount of muscle a year, so it's not a free ride to eat all we want.)

One person happened to mention the fact that protein (what muscle is made of) is 4 calories per gram, compared to 9 calories per gram of fat.

A lightbulb sort of went on and I looked up how many grams in a pound. 453.592 grams. Multiply by 4 calories. The result was 1814.37 calories. More than what was being stated. That made me wonder even more about the stated 3500 calories for a pound of fat. I put three common facts next to each other. Seemed like a simple enough "word equation" or basic replacement algebra:

#1: A pound of fat is 3500 calories
#2: A gram of fat is 9 calories.
#3: A pound is 453 grams (rounded).

Those three facts do not add up. Multiplying 9 calories by 435 grams did not give me 3500 calories in a pound. Far short, in fact. By a little over 500 calories.

SAINTBETH'S link and a Wikipedia article started me on the road to understanding that better.

We're using "fat" for things that are not equal. There's a difference between a pound of pure fat (think 4 cubes of butter) and a pound of human fat on the body. Our fat is stored in cells. Those cells have walls, liquid, and other components that are not fat. Those cells take up space and have weight even in a person with zero excess fat. Inside those cells is stored a specific quantity of pure fat. Wikipedia listed it as around 80% fat but mentioned there can be pure fat in the liver and somewhere else. The other link, a blog, mentioned a common value used of 87%.

Sure enough, apply that 87% to the result I got in the earlier math and I'm down to 3551.625 - close enough I can understand it as rounding. (It's easier to work with 3500 and divide that into 500 a day.)

The abstract in PKCTTS' link had two things to say I thought were very thought-provoking:

== One of the most pervasive weight loss rules is that a cumulative energy deficit of 3500 kcal is required per pound of body weight loss ==
BODY WEIGHT LOSS ... not fat. Why did he choose to word it that way?

== I examine this question using a modification of the classic Forbes equation that predicts the composition of weight loss as a function of the initial body fat and magnitude of weight loss. ==
At first I thought this "classic Forbes equation" that might be the source, but ultimately I discovered that instead his research was more about what people losing weight lose when being underfed. ( - the abstract of Forbes' study.)

But the more important question I had was covered nicely in FAITH__IN__ME's link as a bullet point:

== 3500 calories to lose a pound has always been the rule of thumb. However, this 3500 calories figure goes back to research which assumed that all the weight lost would be adipose tissue (which would be ideal, of course). ==

I still don't know exactly what the original research is, but this actually was where my whole questioning came from. When we create a calorie deficit, we can't directly control and force the loss to be 100% pure fat. In fact, life is rarely the ideal.


Ultimately what I seem to be getting from all this is:

A 3500 calorie deficit could result in a pound of fat lost in an ideal situation. That same 3500 calorie deficit could result in two pounds of muscle (or more) lost in the least ideal situation (a starved Prisoner of War comes to mind.) Most of us are somewhere between dependent on a variety of factors such as our current body fat, whether we strength train, how much protein we consume, the size of the deficit we're trying to use.

That last bit was probably the most interesting part of all that I read on this. Similar to learning that "1-2 pounds per week" is a gross oversimplification and 5-10% over a three month period is better at getting a realistic loss for where we currently are, instead of thinking with 3500 calorie deficit per pound to lose it thinks with percentages:

15-20% below maintenance calories = conservative deficit
20-25% below maintenance calories = moderate deficit
25-30% below maintenance calories = aggressive deficit
31-40% below maintenance calories = very aggressive deficit (risky)
50%+ below maintenance calories = semi starvation/starvation (potentially dangerous and unhealthy)

(I did the math on mine, based on a presumed maintenance level of about 2750, my conservative range would be 2200 to 2340. Interestingly enough, right around a 3500 calorie deficit. Of course, if I dropped all my activity, my maintenance would drop to around 1815 with a conservative range of 1450 to 1540 -- more around a 2100 calorie deficit. Intriguing ... and a good argument for a very active lifestyle.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PGNBRI 12/31/2012 12:35PM

    Wow. Very interesting information!!

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UNIQDRGNFLY 12/27/2012 9:17AM

    ....and I just thought I was a deep thinker...LOL

Thanks for the ROCK! emoticon

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CASE4GRACE 12/27/2012 9:09AM

    Your math and analytical thinking are impressive here. However, I think there is some very important pieces missing from your equation. The variabls are metabolic rate and macronutrients. Just because you decrease your calorie consumption, that does not mean that your body will burn that exact same number of calories from stored fat or muscle. The metabolic rate (a complex system controlled by hormones trying to keep the body n a relative state of homestasis) determines how much fat/muscle a body pulls from reserves to use for energy depending on the individuals resting metabolic rate, energy demands, body composition, health, etc. Furthermore, calories in/calories out has been proven to be only part of the equation. What and how we eat also plays a role: timing (eating all at one big meal versus spread throughout the day in small meals) and macronutrients (all carbs would spike insulin leading to additional fat storage) will influence the results also.

Just a little "food" for thought.

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MORRIGAN11 12/27/2012 8:33AM

    emoticon what a great informative blog!!

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GOPINTOS 12/27/2012 7:30AM

    Wow! Just wow! :) Great blog. Appreciate all your thought and effort!!

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SPARKFRAN514 12/26/2012 11:58PM

    good blog as we recover or some of us recover form those wonderful Christmas goodies and head into the New Year

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RUNNINGWILD 12/26/2012 5:14PM

    A good post Christmas blog since I'll be working hard to lose about 7000 calories I should have avoided ...

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SHAR8676 12/26/2012 2:28PM

    I have never been good at math -

I do believe not all calories are equal

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ILOVEMALI 12/26/2012 1:38PM

    This gives me a lot to think about as I try to recover from stupid (but fun) cjoices this past week!

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JO88BAKO 12/25/2012 7:41PM

    Really like your new picture!!

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HEALTH4LYFE 12/25/2012 1:18PM

    A lot of useful information. There are weeks I am able to lose more weight and eat just about the same amount of food, with the same amount of exercise. I think it comes down to what works best for you individually! emoticon

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SAINTBETH 12/25/2012 12:06PM

    Thanks! You posts have gotten me thinking, too. I guess metabolism has something to do with it, too. Some people have a high metabolism, some a low one. I know that mine is low unless I exercise every day. So I gain more weight from that extra 50 calories and it is harder to get it off.

That's my take.

It takes as long as it takes, but I'm going to lose the excess fat. Period.

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RG_DFW 12/25/2012 11:30AM

    I would also propose that virtually none of us enters the intake accurately. Assuming, however, that we err in a consistent manner either higher or lower, through trial and error, perhaps, we stumble across the numbers that work for us and achieve the results we wish.

In other words, the end result is what we're after.

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NELLJONES 12/25/2012 9:31AM

    And this is why I don't count calories. It's easier to count calories in (tested in a lab) but impossible to count calories out. So who cares? I count my exchanges of food and just watch to scale to see how it all works in my body. It is what it is. Thermodynamics is governed by physical laws. My intake and output is governed by me.

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DIET_FRIEND 12/25/2012 9:03AM

    All that math just makes my eyes glaze over. I hope you get the answers you seek.

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KSCHRAUT 12/25/2012 7:27AM

    Nice .. Thanks for all the information :)

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AHTRAP 12/25/2012 2:47AM

    Thanks for doing the math for us. The 3500 was a figure I'd accepted without much thought. The fact that I don't carefully track intake/output probably makes me less concerned than someone who actually is putting numbers on their day, and perhaps finding that their math isn't obeyed by the scale. But it is good to know where our common assumptions are coming from.

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Fifteen months along PLUS Santa Run 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Time is speeding along. It seems like November was just last week! This month's loss definitely slowed to a crawl. Actually, it was going along better, hitting 167.5 for a couple days.

But then I hit a ravenous beast stage where I just could not seem to stop feeling hungry again. One of those days I ate (and tracked) over 5000 calories. The amazing thing about that? I never once felt stuffed, full, or ill. My average calories for this week (Monday through Sunday) were just over 3000. I spiked from 168.5 on Monday to 172 on Thursday and was back down to 168.5 today. (Another amazing thing? The day we had truffles at work - OMG, my kryptonite! - I was in range without a hitch.)

Which gives me 1 pound down for November to December. I'm a pound over my most recent low (Wed and Thurs of the prior week). My normal routine is to hit a new low then bounce back up, then drop below after a few days. I still have plenty of time to make my 165 goal for the end of December.

Without further blathering, here's the latest pictures. (Yes, that poor swimsuit is bagging and sagging in spots - even if it's not easy to see in these low-quality pictures.)

I also added a new picture of me in workout clothes I got so I won't be freezing out there on my SparkPage. And here's one last picture from the side because I wanted one that's good for future comparison with respect to the torso thickness I really hope to start seeing changes to in 2013.

I mentioned this around the ONYX OUTLAWS campfire, but it's exciting enough I'll mention it here too. Back when BLC#20 started, I set a "Big Hairy Audacious Goal". (Well, two - one was not eating peanut butter with a spoon - only on sandwiches or with celery - which I messed up bad on two days.) The goal was to be able to do a full military pushup. At the time I wasn't even managing very many modified pushups, but was doing wall pushups or pushups on an incline like the back of a bench at a bus stop.

When BLC#20 ended, I tried a full military pushup just to see where I was at. I was able to hold my form and lower myself to the correct position ... and was stuck. I could push with all my might and go nowhere. The best I could manage was holding my form and not resting my chest on the floor.

Today I tried again. I'm still not there, but this time the pushing was getting some result. I got about an inch or two up from the lowered position! I'm pretty sure it's a given I'll be able to do them before my birthday in March, but it would be super cool to do so either by the end of 2012 or before the start of BLC#21 (mid-to-late January).


When I first arrived, I came in from a side street and wound up really close to the starting gate. (I'm not sure if the size/quality will allow you to see him, but the Grinch ran too. For extra chuckles? The man in the costume is the Tax Assessor.)

These next two were looking around trying to show an idea of what 2500 runners, many in Santa costumes, look like:

One of the guys on the stage I just had to get a shot of. He broke his foot in our Turkey Trot, but was all prepared to race ... with a specially decked out scooter:

Now that's finding a way to stay active in spite of injury!

About this point they started directing the fastest people to move to the front and the slower to move toward the back. So I made my way almost to the very back. There were still more people filtering in, but IF you can see the same starting gate I was near earlier, that might give an idea of how far away I moved.

One of me pre-race. (I also took one earlier while waiting on the bus that I've made my profile picture for a while. I don't think I look all that bad as a Santa. HO HO HO!
Here's a few other nearby Santas (and a Mrs. Claus).

This run benefited the Christmas in the Park and Downtown Ice that I showed pictures of in a prior blog. In fact, they put the end of the race running along the road circling the park area that is in which was pretty cool.

And the very best part I mentioned in my feed. They automated the timing really well. The timing chips are on the back of the bibs and after we crossed the finish line it sent us an email that said:

Good job Jennifer May ------! You successfully completed the Santa Run Silicon Valley 2012 in a time of 00:40:40.879!

My personal goal was to be under 41:00 - and I beat that handily! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TANYA602 12/18/2012 8:30PM

    Where's your butt?!?! Look at those gorgeous legs! You look amazing and you can be so proud of all your hard work and the results. Congratulations on the Santa Run!!

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MNJONES2 12/18/2012 11:40AM

    You look so WONDERFUL - you are an inspiration!! Love the santa run!

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 12/18/2012 10:56AM

    How fun. You do make a cute Santa. emoticon

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JENNCABA 12/17/2012 10:07PM

    You look great !! The Santa run looks so fun, great time !! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SHERIO5 12/17/2012 4:29PM

    What fun! Do you think its time to retire that poor swimsuit?

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TEADYBEAR77 12/17/2012 4:25PM

    You're doing such a great job. I love watching your transformation. You getting better every day. Keep it up.

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NANCYSINATRA 12/17/2012 3:55PM

    Love the new picture. :) Great job on beating your time too. :)

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DIET_FRIEND 12/17/2012 3:45PM


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EXRAYCHIC 12/17/2012 1:13PM

    That does look like fun! I did try to think of a way to use a scooter, but for a knee it is difficult. However...hmm... emoticon

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SAMBIDEXTROUS 12/17/2012 12:56PM

    That looks like it was sooo much fun!

That would be the time that I would tell someone that is going to look for me at the race, "You can't miss me. I'm dressed as Santa."

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LMH1223 12/17/2012 12:27PM

    It looks like so much fun!!! Way to go on your time as well, it always feels good to meet and surpass your goal!! You made a great Santa!!

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ILOVEMALI 12/17/2012 11:43AM

    Congratulations on your run time! And you're doing swimmingly on your weight loss. We did"Christgiving Dinner" for The Girl last night (she couldn't get home for Thanksgiving and won't be home for Christmas) and dinner was really late (I worked at J#2 until 8, and our guest had her days mixed up and didn't arrive until after 9), and I was starved so I ate too much (I didn't eat too much so that I felt ill, just more than I should have), so no weigh-in today for me! LOL!

Such a cute Santa --

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SAINTBETH 12/17/2012 11:23AM

    Love the new photo in the Santa suit.

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AIKIGAL 12/17/2012 10:15AM


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JOHNSONZ 12/17/2012 9:21AM

    Loved your blog. How fun was that? Silly Santas! WooHoo!
You look great. Inspiring - keep us posted into 2013.

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KSCHRAUT 12/17/2012 8:19AM

    Woohoo! Nice job! Keep up the good work!

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CHERYL_ANNE 12/17/2012 7:16AM

You're a star!

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YESCURLYCAN 12/17/2012 2:54AM

  emoticon on your time and you look emoticon! I was thinking about your pushup goal (I have some pushup goals of my own) and I wanted to pass on a link to you. I have been doing this program and I have improved my pushups greatly. I went from wall to modified by the end of the week.
Keep the fantastic work!

Comment edited on: 12/17/2012 2:54:49 AM

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NUOVAELLE 12/17/2012 1:51AM

    Congratulations on your time! Great job on staying focused on your goals and doing what it takes to get there!
And you don't look bad at all as a Santa! Ho ho ho!

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JESSERS22 12/17/2012 1:27AM

    Great Job Jen! Looks like a lot of fun..I think i might sign up for next years race.

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RUNNINGWILD 12/17/2012 12:43AM

    emoticon Nice job beating your goal!! (and you make a pretty nifty lookin' Santa, too!)

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DJ4HEALTH 12/17/2012 12:23AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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