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Why Not Track? In a Word...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why not, in a word? Why not what, I hear you ask. (You’ve read two sentences and have not yet deleted me as a Spark Friend for reasons unknown, so you may as well read on).

If you are reading this and you are a perfect Sparky, always tracking all of your nutrition, always staying in range, every morsel in gets written down or otherwise recorded, read on. This blog is not for you. Complain to Spark Guy. Delete me as a friend. Better yet, have me ousted already. High time, you’d have to agree.

For the rest of you flawed humans who wax and wane between periods of intensive tracking and periods of coasting and hoping-for-the-best, well, this blog’s for you. Perhaps like me you learned (cue the Apollo 11 metaphor here), you cannot burn the engines for 39 seconds, while paying rapt attention, and then just put Sir Isaac Newton in the driver’s seat and hope for the best? As Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon learned, “power is everything” Here on Spark, as I ebb toward being one of the sage wise elders of this little corner of the internet, I’m here to tell you that “portion control is everything.”

Why not track nutrition? The tools for successful portion control are here. You know you should. Yes, I know I should. Yet has a human, I am prone to err, and thus do not or do not regularly enough. If you still are reading, you don’t either. Why not? In a word?

I’ve tracked. For weeks at a time. For months at a time even, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and I was new to Spark. And I saw results. Weight was lost by the dozens. Whole wardrobes were rendered gargantuan-ly obsolete. I blogged and blogged about it until your entire Spark feeds were filled with virtually nothing but blogs about this surprising-to-me success. Spark works and it still would work. I’m living proof. And believe me, if I can do it anyone can.

Then I stopped. I did not intend to enter maintenance mode, but more or less that is what happened. Why don’t I track, still? I still have weight to lose – roughly in proportion to the heft of the average 3rd-grader. Well, as the joke goes, it’s complicated. There is no one reason.

Tracking is time-consuming. It’s inconvenient. Too many meals are cooked from blends of multiple ingredients, making it challenging to get the information correct unless I approach cooking with the precision of a laboratory chemist. Circumstances also require that I eat out on the road (client meetings over meals and time-crunches) requiring estimation and wishful thinking more often than a good Sparky should.

Maybe you can relate to this, having been a diligent Sparky for awhile and then less so for some reason. Maybe like me, you kind-of, sort-of still track more-or-less in your head. You know the obvious danger foods to avoid. You have developed an eye for excessive portions. But even so, you slip up sometimes and revert to bad habits. You do not want to, and you do not mean to, but you do.
So why not track like you once did, in a word? For some, that word might be “denial” “fear” “emotions” “boredom” “children” “family” “computer” “internet” or even the come-on-now-really words like “gluttony” “foolishness” “laziness” “lethargy” “hopelessness” “despair” or “malaise.” My word for me: “inexcusable” with “inconvenient” as a runner-up.

How about you? One word… Go!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BE-THE-CHANGE 10/26/2014 4:40PM

    I wish I was religious but honestly, when I am doing well I am tracking and when I am not eating the best, I don't record it. I need to track in order to do well. It is really much easier than it was 5 years ago so for me that is no excuse.

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LADYSTARWIND 10/24/2014 12:50AM

    Consistently: as in every day that I am home, and have computer access.

Inconsistently: as in every day I am on Vacation, or camping, or traveling.

The mindfulness of putting it down in black and white makes me look twice at what's "not so good a choice" for the day...and yes, those *moments of awareness* often follow me into the kitchen!! If I have the chance, I often "pre-track", and try to adjust my dinner portions to better meet my nutrition balance.

The fact that I haven't lost those last 7lbs yet bothers me some (in part due to some medical issues), but I HAVE stayed below my starting weight, and I KNOW I'm eating healthier choices. Win, Win---I'll take it!!

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SPARKFRAN514 10/22/2014 7:18PM

    emoticon thanks for the blog great to see writing again.

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 10/22/2014 12:33PM

    LOL - I'm having trouble getting past, "... ebb toward being one of the sage wise elders of this little corner of the internet.."



Here is my word: lowselfesteem

actually: noselfesteem

Not all the time.

Just as things are going really well...BAM something happens - some relationship issue, some snide comment, some interaction happens that trips me flat on my face and gets a great bit pity party going on with all of the worst foods invited as the guests of honor.

It's just enough to keep me running on that treadmill without making any real progress.

I'm getting some counseling on it though and hope to learn some strategies to cope....


Comment edited on: 10/22/2014 12:33:54 PM

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CHEETARA79 10/22/2014 10:28AM

    Great blog! I track about 5 days a week lately. Unfortunately when I don't track (usually on the weekend), I overeat because there's no tracker to hold me accountable. But I'm still slowly, gradually losing weight. It's not an all-or-nothing thing. You can track a few days a week and still make progress. It is inconvenient, for sure.

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PHEBESS 10/22/2014 10:20AM

    I track as best I can. Because I tend to make bad food choices if I don't. Plain and simple. Sometimes I have to find a food item close to what I ate. Sometimes I find exactly what I ate. But I continue to track.

Only way I can maintain, or lose the rest of the weight I'd like to lose.

Besides, I like my points!

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JUNEPA 10/22/2014 12:43AM

That is the one word, but to explain it, I wish to develop self-restraint, moderation, perseverance and mindfulness, pay attention to what I am doing, I wish to not be a glutton. I want to be able to assess as the situation of food choices arises and do the right thing, make the right choice of when, what and how much to eat. I did track for about 2 years and know what I need to eat daily to stay in range for the important nutrients. Now I want to just apply what I learned tracking by acting on what I know and not spend all that time tracking every morsel of every day.

Sorry if this self-analysis is boring for you to read, but it did help me, just writing it down, to clarify where I am at.

BTW where did you get the booger nutrition info, too gross, but funny too.

Comment edited on: 10/22/2014 12:46:00 AM

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SANDICANE 10/21/2014 8:44PM

    Hmmm, humourous blog, yes. The reality behind it, sad. I achieved my goal weight here on SP by losing over 50lbs. Then what? Yep, you guessed it! I quit tracking. I quit exercising. I quit measuring. Basically I closed my eyes and hoped everything would be ok, while I put things in my mouth that I wouldn't want to see on my nutrition tracker anyway!!

Fast forward 9 months. Hmmm, the scales were up 31 lbs. None of my beautiful summer clothes that were new the previous year would fit. NONE OF THEM. So now I'm one lb away from being back to my goal weight and I've just started reading and DOING the Beck Book with Watermellen et al. After a lifetime of yo yo dieting, I don't want to do it again. This last time to lose weight was tough...really tough. All summer long I worked, measured, chose healthy choices, and yes, tracked my food.

So now that I'm 1 lb from goal, I'm going to DO Beck. When the student is ready, the teacher appears...and Beck has arrived!

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IMLOCOLINDA 10/21/2014 8:33PM

    emoticon emoticon

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PICKIE98 10/21/2014 5:24PM

    Oh!! So THAT'S what that tracker is for!! I thought it was a study guide!! NO darned wonder I slid backwards...
It is a lot of work to do.. I eyeball stuff, might as well just eat an eyeball.

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IAMAGEMLOVER 10/21/2014 12:41PM

    emoticon track everyday. Now exercise, that is my downfall. Went from over 2000 minutes a month to not even 250 emoticon

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ISHIIGIRL 10/21/2014 8:18AM

    I wish I could say I was a religious tracker but I am with you in all of the above areas. However, we all know how wonderfully tracking does work. Great Blog.

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BROOKLYN_BORN 10/21/2014 8:12AM

    My data driven mind loves your mathematical references. That's got to be the first time I've seen Isaac Newton mentioned on Spark.
Approaching 5 years of maintenance now, I weight myself every single morning. So when do I decide I need to track? When the trend is up, up, up. Daily fluctuation means up AND down., If there's no down, I better get back on the ball - the track ball.

Oops, I just saw that I'm good friends with your enemy - the scale! It's not exactly my friend. It's my "parole officer." It helps me stay out of weight gain prison.

Comment edited on: 10/21/2014 8:15:39 AM

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WATERMELLEN 10/21/2014 7:44AM

    Hilarious blog -- so happy to have your irreverence back.

And: read the whole thing. Even though I do track nutrition religiously (exercise, not so much).

And even though I absolutely believe that tracking nutrition is vital to weight loss and to weight loss maintenance (the science, e.g. National Weight Loss Registry research, supports this too -- and YOU ARE A SCIENTIST, right??)

So: why don't you try Dr. Judith S. Beck, The Beck Diet Solution, train your brain to think like a thin person -- two whole weeks of cognitive techniques BEFORE you attempt to "diet". Yeah. You're a brain guy -- and you want to use your brain to make your life work, right???

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ILOVEMALI 10/21/2014 1:46AM

  I've been living in maintenance mode. Added 4.5 pounds to my bulk. Back to tracking...

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_BABE_ 10/21/2014 12:55AM

    It was great to read your blog. I think often I hope to get results on a wing and a prayer.


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WORLDSERIES11 10/20/2014 11:30PM

    lethargy...with inconvenient a close second emoticon

PS...I see you've moved on from baseball(disappointing post-season!) to

Comment edited on: 10/20/2014 11:31:59 PM

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MT-MOONCHASER 10/20/2014 11:16PM



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BOOKAPHILE 10/20/2014 10:39PM


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PLMITCH 10/20/2014 10:22PM


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DALID414 10/20/2014 9:13PM

    Sorry, I'm a "perfect Sparky" (your words, not mine!); I track everyday, especially the "bad days".
I still wish to participate, my one word: habit.

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MARYANN2323 10/20/2014 9:10PM

    In one word? Then I will say religiously. The good, the bad, and the really ugly all get tracked. I wish the word was successfully, but it's not. But it has kept me from going up in weight. And with my log of favourites it has cut the time to track down to miniscule. And being blessed, or some may say cursed, to be the cook in the house, I track a recipe once and then it is there to be used as needed.

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1CRAZYDOG 10/20/2014 9:01PM


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GEORGE815 10/20/2014 8:53PM

    Been tracking food and other things since I have joined SP.

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Designing the Mathematicallly Perfect Baseball Schedule

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Just in case you still had any doubt as to who is the geekiest person on your Spark Friend feed (and this has nothing to do with Spark. Machevellian weight loss and fitness folks - this blog is not for you. Move on now. Delete me too. High time, after all) ... For the rest of you time-wasters and procrastinators, I present the mathematically perfect baseball schedule. Here we go. Parameters: 30 teams, 162 games (owners will not stand for less and weather will not allow for more). Everything else is in bounds.

Here are some starting parameters for me. One day off every 16 to 17 days. Say one Monday and one Thursday a month are off. So teams play on 28 days in April, June and September, and 29 days in May July and August. That adds to 171. Subtract 4 for the All-Star Break we are at 162. Five bordering days, early April probably, are no-play days for weather. If each team plays one single-admission Sunday double-header a month (three home and three away over the season) - family days at the park - the season can start a week later or end a week earlier - which it needs to do.

Now, about those pesky 15-team leagues and inter-league play. The one begets the other. Unless you change the number of teams for the divisional lineups, you are stuck with inter-league play. Let's try and work with it. My solution is that in September, the three last-place divisional finishers from the previous year play exclusively an other-league schedule after Labor Day. Say its AL in odd years and NL in even years.

So in 2015, three AL swing teams - the Red Sox, Twins and Rangers, would play an exclusively NL schedule in September. For the last five series of the year, those teams play a round-robin exclusively against themselves and the last-place finishers in the other three divisions. This increases the odds that other games may have particular importance. The other teams only play intra-divisionally during those last five series. Maybe an advantage or maybe a disadvantage but would be exciting.

Now the numbers. Nine home and nine away against teams in your own division (72), 3 home and 3 away against teams in your league in the other divisions (ten teams x 6 games = 60) bring us to 132. That leaves 30. Three more home and three more away against the other-division finishers of equivalent seed (2nd place from last year vs. 2nd place from last year), is another 12, leaving us with 18. Those 18 are inter-league games, all 3-game series, are against a rotating division but not home-and-home (12 games), leaving one home-and-home (6 games) against a geographic inter-league rival.

Now your turn. And who likes this way more than what we have? (Yes this stuff keeps me up at night). And who is your geekiest person on Spark? Anyone else laying claim to that honor, well, in a Monopoly metaphor, I have a hotel there already. You owe me $2,000. Pay up!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BE-THE-CHANGE 10/26/2014 4:37PM

    Ending a week earlier would be awesome!

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IMLOCOLINDA 10/21/2014 8:32PM

    emoticon However they got there, I'm glad the Royals are representing in the best friend has season tickets so I'll finally get to see a world series game after all these years!

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WORLDSERIES11 10/19/2014 11:55PM

    I'm no math geek, but as a huge baseball fan, it sounds perfect!! Submit it to the commissioner!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DSHONEYC 10/19/2014 9:42PM

    My brain gave up!

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PHEBESS 10/19/2014 9:29PM

    I'm glad you keep exercising that brain!!!

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ILOVEMALI 10/19/2014 8:47PM

  Waaaaaaay to complicated for my bitty brain!

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ECOAGE 10/19/2014 5:07PM

    You lost me when you put both "baseball" and "math" in the blog subject.
I prefer my baseball with the hometown crowd and a cold beer.
Keep it simple.
Cheer for the hometeam. (Go Red Sox!)
Know what place your team is as the season progresses. (Are we in first place? Are we at the bottom?)
The Yankees are evil. (Are they in first place? Are we in first place?)
Is it a home game? (Don't try to park anywhere near Comm. Ave., Brookline Ave., or anywhere in Brookline.)

Comment edited on: 10/19/2014 8:38:42 PM

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IAMAGEMLOVER 10/19/2014 4:01PM

    I use to love baseball. When they screwed with the leagues, I stopped. I was a huge collector, I don't do that anymore. The only time I watch a game is when I am at my Mom's. She is still a huge Red Sox fan and Yankee hater. I couldn't even tell you who is in the series.

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MARYANN2323 10/19/2014 3:06PM

    Got one for hockey? emoticon

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PICKIE98 10/19/2014 8:15AM

    I think if you present it to the team and all, they would love it, HOWEVER, sponsors want to squeeze every single drop of exposure they can out of the teams, smearing their feces logos all over the screen, either in commercials or as ad graffiti all over the stadium. Find a way to please the sponsors and I think you may have a winner.!! (We have a WEINER!!!)

Run the bases with this idea and see if it makes it HOME... emoticon
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 10/19/2014 7:55AM

    Hilarious!! My DH has a similarly complex and mathematically arcane method of recording "shot quality index" for absolutely every hole on the golf course -- a service he also provides to his best buddies.

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1CRAZYDOG 10/19/2014 7:29AM

    Good schedule!

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JCLJR4547 10/19/2014 7:20AM


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Workout Music in the 21st Century ("A Horse is a Horse...")

Sunday, September 14, 2014

You knew that sooner or later this day would come. Over nine months of radio silence is over, as not unlike Mr. Ed, I have something to say. Today's blog-worthy topic is workout music. (Yes, those of you who remember me from the olden days when Sparky was but a toddler, know that workout music was an oft-visited blog topic. And for those of you who only wish to read about successes and failures of the eternal Battle of the Bulge, skip, move on, complain to Sparky, delete me as a Spark Friend already for crying out loud.

For the rest of you, fasten your seat belts, for here goes nine months of pent-up blogginess:

Shamed by Thing Two who accuses me of being anti-technological and thus aging rapidly before his very eyes, I have been dragged kicking and screaming into the world of 21st century digital music. But first, some historical perspective is on order:

In high school I was the guy with the most records (albums and 45s) and a fast-growing collection of custom mix-tapes. In college I was the guy with the biggest speakers in the dorm windows and the electronic muscle to pump my (stuck in the late 70s to early 80s) musical taste into the quad. Mix tapes were a specialty and a road trip necessity; I was the only person I knew with two ultra-expensive cassette decks, for their (relatively effortless at the time) preparation.

At summer camp I was the DJ (so to speak) for Saturday night dances, more often than not. My car stereo similarly was a source of (irrational) pride and expenditure. When Elvis Costello sang "Radio, Radio", he was targeting me.

The radio was my best friend, and often the only constant in my life that regularly warped out of orbit, from high school, to college, to graduate school with various far-flung summer experiences between.

Video came along to kill the radio star. I eschewed MTV (other than Martha Quinn); I liked the music more before I knew what the artists looked like.

Times changed again, and (after missing the Kazaa and Napster revolution entirely because of priorities on a career, dating, marriage, and fatherhood) ultimately I found my way to subscription music downloaded from the internet.

I was an early adopter of Yahoo Music, later purchased by Rhapsody and its go-anywhere music, played on special (if really poorly engineered) mp3 players that could handle this weird take on limited digital rights music. Again I was on the vanguard, or so I thought.

Around then I also became an early Pandora user (way before everyone and his brother heard of it), and still have close to 100 personally-planned stations there, all the while my musical tastes evolved but at a much slower pace than the technology.

These days the large speakers no longer are in the windows, and the wattage of my receiver has given way to more sophisticated devices. Music is more of a personal experience and not so much a communal one.

I relish my headphones for the gym, and my waterproof mp3 player for the pool. The music is for me and less for everyone else within earshot. They have their music and their incorrect tastes in songs and artists. Live and let live; I'm not going to change them and have given up trying.

For the moment, my amazing new headphones (light weight, washable, gym-worthy and amazingly tuneful) still are connected to my Rhapsody DRM-compliant mp3 player when walking or working out. However, my Smartphone is fast being discovered as an entertainment device, already being relied on to deliver me Orioles games on the radio anywhere.

Now a new music technology is here for my Smartphone, beckoning with its power and simplicity to abandon all what has come before. It's called Spotify and its revolutionizing all that came before, yet again. At least this time I'm not quite the very last person to have heard of it or used it.

I downloaded the Spotify app and I see its power, simplicity and to put it bluntly, its inevitability. If only I was not so invested in other, aging technologies and platforms.

I have not brought myself to cough up the $10 a month for a fully-enabled, ad-free Spotify subscription, but I suppose that too is inevitable.

PS - For anyone who elects to be snarky about a broken New Year's Resolution here in mid September, my Spark Friends list is in front of me, and my hair-trigger finger is on the delete key. We don't want things to come to that, do we?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRIANGLE-WOMAN 10/6/2014 9:49AM

    Welcome back! No Snark. Glad to see you posting!

For a laugh, see MOSTMOM1's recent vlog.

I re-posted it I thought it so captured the essence of what we are all about here...

As she said:

"It's neither here nor there. We are just going to do it and have as much fun as we can along the way....We are gonna get it done. And we'll do again and again and oh my goodness, we'll just keep life fresh and interesting, So SPARK ON"

Thanks for keeping life fresh and interesting!

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IMLOCOLINDA 9/18/2014 12:27PM

    emoticon emoticon I have my old 8-tracks and still some good tapes that go round and round during dinner parties...just for the novelty of it. I proudly confess to not knowing the difference between blue tooth and blue ray and don't own a CD player let alone the little music thingies. Guess I'm a Luddite!

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COOKIE_AT_51 9/17/2014 8:18AM

    emoticon emoticon Glad you "broke" the silence ... always fun to read. I have a confession to make regarding homemade cassette tapes ... I too loved them and I still have a full storage case of them. emoticon I can't seem to bring myself to toss em.

Spark on my sparky friend ... Cookie emoticon

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PICKIE98 9/15/2014 4:48PM

    I still have the 78's, 33's and 45's from home. WWII records too.
I still have a cassette player in my stereo along with a turntable .. own every Beach Boys album made..

Cherish my Alice Cooper Schools Out album(the cover is a working desk.) Who remembers Cheech and Chongs ZigZag album cover??Got that too..

Miss hearing about your adventures this past summer....What are the Things up to now? How did drivers ed pan out?

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WORLDSERIES11 9/15/2014 3:02PM

    emoticon you have been greatly missed!! Who else can I talk sports with emoticon
I made the progression from albums/45's, to cassette's, to 8-tracks, to CD's(and still have some of each!)...but I stopped there. My technological skills and interest haven't advanced from there, so some would say I'm still in the stone age:-)

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BONOLICIOUS2 9/15/2014 8:24AM

    Is that your wedding pic?!?!?! Awesome!

I havent forked over the $10 yet either but I feel like that day is coming... ahhhhhhh

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DEENANATAF 9/15/2014 12:59AM

    So glad you wrote -- I have missed you and your blogs. Happy and healthy New Year to you, Susan and the Things.
Deena from Jerusalem

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LE7_1234 9/15/2014 12:29AM

    I'm with PHEBESS--you made it to the New Year! emoticon

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PHEBESS 9/14/2014 8:40PM

    From New Year to New Year, right?

And I thought I was with it since I have an iPod. Sadly out of it once again. I have visions of returning to the US some time in the future and having zero clue how to work any of the new technology. Like, how to cook a meal. Or make a phone call. There will be so many new technologies, and I'll be so out of it.......

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CHARTHESTAR 9/14/2014 8:35PM

    I also loved your wedding picture you shared.
I have heard of spotify but right now I am happy with what I am doing.
Good to have you back from your radio silence.
Also- been keeping up with your laps this summer. WTG!

I remember in the late 1970 I was shopping with my parents at an outside mall close to
Chicago. We had split up to go our separate ways and I went into the Sharper Image. WHAT AN AWESOME STORE. I had never been in one before and they had the most coolest awesomest thing in the world. Digital CD's where you would eventually be able to mix your own CDs. I dragged my parents back there. At that moment you couldn't make your own CDs but he said that the technology would be available soon. How cool- no more sitting my the radio to catch your favorite songs. The kids nowadays will never know that type of anticipation and then frustration when you ran out of tape before the song was over.

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IAMAGEMLOVER 9/14/2014 8:12PM

    emoticon I kept checking you SP page to see if I was still subscribed to your blogs and maybe just not getting notice. You know the mail. You are way ahead of me on technology. I still have a record player, albums and a few 45's Precious and Few is one of them. I love that song. I have a MP3 player that Gary bought me for losing the 120+ pounds but I don't know how to use it so never have. It's a nice one to according to my nephew. I finally received a DVD player for Christmas. Maybe one day I will learn how to use it. emoticon

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SPARKFRAN514 9/14/2014 7:51PM

    emoticon emoticon I am with in the dark ages in music dept thanks for sharing the picture you and Sue hope we don't have to wait so long for the next one emoticon just so you know you are a head of me with your M 3 player and down loading music my cell phone is in the dark ages its only a cell phone and a radio shake 19.99 one at that emoticon

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BOOKAPHILE 9/14/2014 7:14PM

    Welcome back from radio silence!

You are more current than I. I haven't used Spotify. I might need a tutorial...

The walk down memory lane was fun! I think I became a dinosaur when I wasn't looking. I don't even have a "smarter than me" phone.

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CHEBBA 9/14/2014 6:55PM

    Well, I may be up to date with much of my current technical stuff, but that doesn't mean that I haven't still got the remains of my past! I found a WALKMAN in a box of 'stuff' the other day - good grief! I also have vinyl records of 45rpm, in another box - and some going back to when I was a CHILD, so they're around 60yrs old! I've even got some pretty, semi-translucent rainbow-coloured 45rpm's, like oil-slick colours, on records which I bought as a teenager living in Cyprus in the mid-'60's - I wonder if they're worth anything?

Now, my nearly 93yr old father… if you want to know about old kit, he's in a different league! His valve-operated radios and stuff which doesn't work, have now reached the status of having to be kept as they're probably collectable! Yesterday, I even cleaned the tile floors with a 60yr old burgundy-coloured Hoover, borrowed from Dad, complete with two rotating bristle brushes and its original burgundy-coloured cable! It's made of Bakelite, so will be highly collectable.

They don't make 'em like they used to…. eh? !

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MARYANN2323 9/14/2014 6:42PM

    Loved your blog. However you're speaking to THE poster child of the technically challenged. I still have my cassettes, although I do admit to also owning an iPod Shuffle, remember that? (which was uploaded with songs of my choice by my hubby) So I have to bow to you, Oh Lord of the Sound Waves.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DALID414 9/14/2014 6:42PM

    When my Zune died ages ago and the laptop that held my downloaded CDs for the Zune crashed and burned, I thought I was done with music. Until my boss said to play music at the office! He even bought me some small speakers for my phone. I use the I Heart Radio app.

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ILOVEMALI 9/14/2014 6:07PM

  Add to your Spotify: Fleetwood Mac, Santana (Carlos, not our puppy) and the OST from The Commitments. Makes for a fun half hour.

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WATERMELLEN 9/14/2014 6:02PM

    Delighted to hear from you -- and on such an interesting topic historically and to the present. Spotify you say!! Sounds very cool!!

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1CRAZYDOG 9/14/2014 5:59PM

    HEeee’s BAAAAAACK! Ah yes, nothing like a teen aged Thing to spark action, eh!

Step awaayyyyyyy from that delete key! I am glad you broke your radio silence. LOVE the pic of you and Susan.

I admit, I’ve heard of Spotify, but never used it. Maybe my kids are right . . . I’m a dinosaur!

I remember the days of the cassette players and boom boxes too.

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ACRAIG921 9/14/2014 5:39PM

    Thanks for sharing!! I absolutely love music. I am also realizing the entertainment potential of my smartphone, but I also still enjoy going to the store and buying a cd. I haven't totally jumped on the download music bandwagon!!

I hope you have a great day! emoticon

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Autopilot Behind the Wheel of the Caravan

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

You knew this day was coming,. It is here. And you will be just fine.

The ladies who sit in the front row of the Caravan - I call them collectively the Sisterhood - and they know full well who they are - worry about me. They think I need to blog for my psychological well being, and to stop cold turkey will work about as well as stopping cold turkey does with anything else. I tell them not to worry and that I am fine. They do not believe me.

Those of you with whom I have been connected for a year or more, sit in the middle row of the Caravan. You have witnessed the rise - and fall - of my Sparky popularity. Just like the pretty girl who achieved the pinnacle of her life, socially, in Junior High School, or like the grand finale on the Fourth of July, a brilliant display and then nothingness, all too soon. After the fireworks on the 4th, you sit in traffic and ultimately get home with your sunburn intact. Well, I still have my belly, ill-deserved Sparky popularity or not.

For those of you with whom I connected more recently, there was room in the back row of the Caravan for you. There was a time before me and there will be an even more pleasant time in the future. What will you do with the time recovered from having been wasted reading and commenting on my blogs? Track food more carefully? Another lap around the gym? You will be fine.

It is possible that one or more of you still may inspire me to blog on rare occasion. Solstices, equinoxes, the loss of 10 pounds, constitutional conventions, Orioles World Series appearances - something now-and-then like that. Nothing like the pace it has been. I need my time back, and I need my Sparky energy to focus on the humdrum of daily tracking and even doing a better job of interacting in a more meaningful way with you.

My 2014 Sparky resolutions (other than not to blog):

1. Lose 1.5 lbs a week, all year long.

2. Track everything. Put Sparky back in detailed quantitative control. WATERMELLEN and many others of you are right - you can't out-exercise a poor diet.

3. Drink the water. A lot of it. No, more than that. No, even more than that much. Yes, I will Spark from inside the bathroom, a lot.

4. Use the Sparky Activity Tracker. It should arrive any day.

5. Use the space limited by status updates to opine on Sparky things I wish to share. Like Twitter, it forces one to be concise.

My parting thought is this: We are are headed down the weight loss escalator together. Some of us got on it sooner, and some got on it later. Some stand on the escalator, and some march down the steps with decided purpose for awhile. Some of us even reverse course and endeavor to walk back up, involuntarily or otherwise. A growing number get to the bottom, and may or may not stay there. Some get off on an intermediate landing for awhile, voluntarily or otherwise.

However, we're all on the escalator. We're in this together. Blogging, or otherwise. Think about Aretha Franklin in her iconic song Think: "... You need me... I need you..." All of us. Together. Strength and safety in numbers. I'm still here; i assure you I'm going no place. Talk to me and I will respond appropriately. Meanwhile, thanks for reading the blogs and Happy New Year one and all.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LISAN0415 5/28/2014 1:43AM

    Hey those are great goals! I do want to join your new team, It sounds very helpful!


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CASEYTALK 3/19/2014 4:50PM

    Just checking in with you. I wish the setbacks weren't a way that we seem to parallel, but we're having almost the identical Spark journey, so no reason why this wouldn't be a part of it.

Don't give up. You're right to focus on tracking. It's worked in the past and will work again. I've been setting the weekly menu with the spark tracker and using the shopping list to be sure I have everything I need. That never worked for me when I was cooking for the whole family, so that may not work for you and your family, but you could give it a try. It saves the problem of "I'm so exhausted I can't think about the programme for now -- so I'll take some bread and cheese and maybe some of those cookies because I've had such a hard day." The food is in the house, the tracker has already listed the foods so all I have to do is check them off, and none of it is tricky to prepare.

Stay with us! So your 'popular blog' titles aren't coming as quickly as they did. What's important is that you are working on your health. Don't give up! I won't give up on you!

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IFDEEVARUNS2 1/20/2014 3:48PM

    Goodness. Just arrived and you're gone. I'm not sure how I got here, but good luck on the escalator.

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NANCY- 1/4/2014 6:01PM

    "Talk to me and I will respond appropriately." Really this from the
Chief Naysayer, Contrarian and Staunch Opponent of Change?
As you saw two of my guys, they must follow their own path and have their own priorities. Thankfully my son is smart, kind and loving. I was quite impressed with his parenting skills. This is what he chose to be.
What do you chose for yourself?
What is your highest priority?
You know what you need to do for you!

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BOSS61 1/1/2014 8:57PM

    Please accept an an open invitation to the Caravanners, who are serious about weight loss and willing to invest the sweat equity to track and hold one another accountable in quantitative detail, to join the new Spark Team "Unrelenting Accountability" now that some semblance of a team structure has been established. The only per-requisite is that "you wanna."

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MARYANN2323 1/1/2014 5:44PM

    And a happy and healthy New Year to you. May we push each other over our respected finish lines!

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NOMIS1 1/1/2014 8:34AM

    Happy New Year.

I will certainly miss the blogs - but I wish you well - whatever it takes.

Hope we both stay on that down escalator.

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PHEBESS 1/1/2014 5:22AM

    Ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from gettin' to you babe.

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ALLYALLYT 1/1/2014 2:15AM

    Darn, leaving when we have just become friends emoticon Seriously-have a fantastic 2014, may your dreams and goals become reality!

Comment edited on: 1/1/2014 2:16:03 AM

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IMLOCOLINDA 1/1/2014 1:59AM

    A new year is a sunrise for the soul. May your coming, blogless year be bright, beautiful and blessed. Susan and the Things will appreciate your time. We'll miss your lively chatter...but we'll all survive. May 2014 be your best year yet, Mark!!

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DALID414 1/1/2014 1:09AM

    ...which reminds me, time to purge that 'friends' list!

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ILOVEMALI 1/1/2014 12:12AM

  You will love the tracker. Sparky got confused by the drive south in the pick-up -- thought that walked part of the way --but otherwise, it works for me. I figure +/- 10% is accurate enough for me. Sparky makes me aware of how much I'm moving (or not) and motivates me to get up off of my tush.

Happy New Year, Pal --

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    Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't question the reasons you cite for curtailing your SP blabbing, er, blogging and perhaps other forms of SP sociability. You've already been told that I'm available for whatever is legal and proper. If you disappear altogether, I'll be cross with you. And what about me? Does any of this mean that I'm on my own when it comes to thrashing my computer?

An aside: I like your friend, Pickie. Anyone who knew mimeograph, even if only for a year or two, is A-OK. Anyone who knew A-OK is good, too. I promise that I've never before written or uttered the locution.

Don't wander too far afield.

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MACMOM57 12/31/2013 8:37PM

    Seems I'm stuck on the first stair. But making slow progress. Wishing you a very Happy new Year.

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NUMD97 12/31/2013 8:10PM

    As Bob Hope would say in his signature song, "Thanks for the memories". It was fun while it lasted, but if you, indeed, have passed on the baton to another, we wish you hail and fare thee well.

And if you should change your mind, we, the dedicated sisterhood of the first row, will welcome you back with open arms. And without judgment.

And if you should need a private query, you know where to find us that way as well.

Happy new year, Mark, and all blessings upon you for the coming year for you and for your dear family,


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EDDYMEESE 12/31/2013 6:53PM

    See you at the water cooler!

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PICKIE98 12/31/2013 6:34PM

Why not make up a form, like a true/false, yes/no format and use it like the Proverbial mimeograph sheets in grade school? Time saver, ,, okay,, I am not sure where I fit in your Dodge.. methinks I am the old lady strapped to the back bumper.. let us know when you come back from Pluto,, "So far away,," emoticon

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KING_SLAYER 12/31/2013 4:20PM

    Happy New Year Mark. Best of luck with your goals for 2014, the no blogging may be the biggest challenge of them all!

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    Happy 2014 to you also.

From the back seat. emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 12/31/2013 3:18PM

    The women in the front row are definitely awesome and will keep things on this caravan moving. BUT (and isn't there always a big BUTT!) it won't be the same in sparky-land without your blogs. I hope you DO check in even if you don't blog!

Wishing you, Susan, Thing1 and Thing2 a happy, healthy New Year.

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BE-THE-CHANGE 12/31/2013 2:30PM

    Happy New Year!

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_BABE_ 12/31/2013 2:16PM

    Happy New Year! I recently started weekly blogs for accountability....which after the 1st should do well for me...but that's me. One thing I have learned is that we each come at this in our own way...whatever works for you! emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 12/31/2013 2:09PM

    I've no doubt whatsoever that you are doing what YOU need to do to reach goal weight and then maintain it: and we'll be cheering you on.

Love your blogs, but your best and highest use of your energies is probably something other than entertaining us. As entertaining as you are!

Popularity? Doesn't matter. Addiction to the approval of others is probably the most insidious addiction of all says Steve Siebold: and I'm betting it's also related to the addictions we fight hardest.

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ECOAGE 12/31/2013 1:57PM

    Words from the first class seating section?

I believe you. I know you are a survivor and you are going to be just fine. Keep doing what is right for you ... plan, track, plot your next move.

I worry. That's me. I worry about my friends and all the other folks that I care about. Yup, that's me. And you know where to find me. I'm not going anywhere either.

Happy New Year!

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BOOKAPHILE 12/31/2013 1:52PM

    Happy New Year from one of the people in the back row of your caravan. Blog writing is time consuming. You'll do very well if you use the time gained to do something besides eat (says the voice of experience!!) I'm glad I'll be able to hear your humor in status form... that's not cold turkey withdrawal the way silence would be.

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SHERYLDS 12/31/2013 1:34PM

    to Youm SUSAN818127, Thing 1 and Thing 2.....
A very Happy and Healthy New Year.

Keep in Touch

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GREENGENES 12/31/2013 1:25PM

    Wait! What? You're not going to blog any more? emoticon

Way to go out on a high note with Aretha Franklin! I knew you had to have a little Motown in your soul.

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STRIVERONE 12/31/2013 1:24PM

    If you put the effort into goal one that you have put into your blogs this past year, you will surpass it by a long shot.
Happy New Year.

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PAULOBRY 12/31/2013 1:16PM

    and some of us find that we found the entrance to the up escalator when we were looking for the down escalator. So, we gotta walk around the jewelry and/or perfume section to get on the right escalator.....

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SLIMMERJESSE 12/31/2013 1:09PM

    Wishing you the best.

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Dating Rejection Deja vu - The Next Generation

Sunday, December 29, 2013

As I close my failed experiment with blogging here (yes, ECOAGE, yet another farewell), I've reflected back on the odd, humorous, pointless and occasionally poignant missives with which I may have wasted your time. One of my most heartfelt was September 23 of this year, when I explained the challenges (and my permanent anger) that a lifetime of obesity have meant for me, socially. If you missed it (or are too new a Sparkfriend), here you go:

Yesterday evening I had an odd almost deja-vu experience with respect to the profound dating challenges of my teens and young adulthood. By now you have been introduced through cyberspace, in various blogs, in my photos and in my statuses to Thing One and Thing Two. Both now teenagers, sometimes its hard to watch, with bitten lip, just how they navigate the perils of that age that I myself handled so dramatically poorly.

Thing Two avoids dances and the like as though they were the plague. No amount of me saying (in whatever words I choose), "You may come to regret the fun you are choosing to miss" changes his preferences to while away his Saturday evenings in cyberspace combat with online gaming enemies and/or to put new dents in our large collection of ping pong balls with yours truly.

Thing One differs. She is a 17-year old social butterfly and Hilary Clinton wannabe. Like Hilary, she is driven and articulate but sometimes is too much like her Type-A parents for the typical dating prospect to appreciate. More commonly, she holds them to standards of behavior (mine?) that they are ill-equipped to achieve. There have been occasional dates, and even the occasional boyfriend. These fledgling relationships, few and far between, seem to last a few weeks, if that. She badly wants a more vibrant dating life, as her Mom certainly had enjoyed. (I was the [chubby] ping pong kid at home - see above).

A week ago I got to transport six giggly girls to a high school dance. While the non-communicative "It was OK" was the answer I got to my query as to how the dance was, yesterday and as an outcome of the dance, Thing One had a date with someone new. A first date. In the modern era, seemingly first dates are at Starbucks (or at the Mall) and not uncommonly in the daytime.

1. Took Thing One on her date, with the boy who shall remain nameless. Thing One does not yet drive.

2. Cooled my jets in a local bookstore, while Thing One and the boy who shall remain nameless, shared a romantic Java Chip at the Starbucks across the parking lot.

3. Received a text from Thing One, 45 minutes later, that she was ready to come home. She broke the date, in mid-date.

4. Childhood remains firmly intact. Adulthood will wait a few more hours, and the boy shall remain nameless (and de-friended on Facebook apparently - the ultimate act of social rejection) forevermore.

On the way home, her suspicion that he is highly-functioning Asperger's or similarly challenged was explained, as was the lisp, his unfiltered brutal honesty, etc. Recalling all the times I was rejected based on superficiality (i.e., weight) I felt bad for him. To a point. Thing One is my daughter and is entitled to feel as she does. Or, more accurately, NOT to feel as she does.

The young woman I drove to the date vanished. The little girl I have known for the last 17 years, happily returned home, chatting with me all the way. I was happy. To a point.

Thing is, I related to the unfriended boy (he of no name, whom I will never meet), who was dismissed by the smart and pretty girl for reasons that are, at the end of the day, beyond his immediate control to resolve. I don't mean to equate Asperger's Syndrome and obesity, except that one generation apart, they both were criteria used by the smart, pretty girl to reject the awkward and socially inexperienced boy.

I was that boy, in a way.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOSS61 1/1/2014 8:57PM

    Please accept an an open invitation to the Caravanners, who are serious about weight loss and willing to invest the sweat equity to track and hold one another accountable in quantitative detail, to join the new Spark Team "Unrelenting Accountability" now that some semblance of a team structure has been established. The only per-requisite is that "you wanna."

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ILOVEMALI 12/30/2013 10:48PM

  ah, we were all That Boy and That Girl. I even was, occasionally, Thing One.

One of these days, you and I will have a drink together and commiserate -- I've relived my life through The Girl -- although she is petite, and smarter, funnier, prettier than her mother ever was. Just as I always hoped.

Forget about being That Boy. That Boy grew up to be a Fine Man, a Good Father, and a Great Husband (ask them -- they'll tell you!).

Happy New Year!

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PICKIE98 12/30/2013 3:41PM

    Th most important thing here is not whether Miss Thing rejected or accepted said guy.

Her motives and methods are what should come into play here.

What attracted her to him in the first place? Was she meeting him because HE asked her out or vice-versa?
Did she do it to REALLY look for a possible romantic thing, or just to shut him up?

Did she keep him as a friend and will she still say "hey" to him in the hallways, or make him an invisible person ,especially around her friends?
Just the fact that he accepted a date with her is remarkable.. why she ended it so quickly wold kill me NOT to know..

In a more mature situation they cold discuss the Asperger's, offering each other stories and ideas on how to approach situations differently with it..

I Do hope she still acknowledges him in school, this will be something he will remember the rest of his life.

Your daughter is teaching herself some valuable life skills, after your parental influences.

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    Loved the blog, thank you.

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BLUENOSE63 12/29/2013 6:41PM

  You are such a great Dad! Thing 1 and 2 obviously paid attention to what you have been saying all these years. I wasn't allowed to date until I was 16 nor did I want to for that matter. Glad to know that dating is in the daylight at the mall -- sounds perfectly safe and good for you for not hiding around the corner.

Have a great holiday.

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EDDYMEESE 12/29/2013 4:20PM

    I have a reason for why Thing 1 did great, so bear with me...

Just read your "How I Came to Hate Those Who Make Weight-Based Pre-Judgments" blog.

I can absolutely relate. I was always chubby. It became worse because my family has always been so image-oriented. I can remember spending the summer with my aunt and losing a bunch of weight because she literally starved me (with that said, I looked much better). I used to eat at night, because if I (god forbid) wanted a second helping and made even the slightest movement to reach for another serving, I got such a look from my father, I didn't dare. So I ate at night. I ate when I was alone. Getting a driver's license really helped. My mother was in the same boat, so we gained weight together. When my dad was away on business, we'd binge. Daily. That's a part of my personality that I am having a hard time breaking away from - when I feel the need to de-stress, I eat.
I remember that my brother got teased because I was so fat. I think that was the first time I started to feel self-conscious. I was in 6th grade. Strangely, I don't remember any friends or classmates ever laughing at me growing up, it came mostly from home. I was such a tomboy, I never cared if a boy liked me or not, although I did have a crush on a boy named Joey, but of course, we were just good friends. I never got asked to sit together at lunch. Also, went to Orthodox Jewish schools, so there wasn't much dating and certainly no school dances, lol. Once we entered public school when I was 16, that's when everything changed. I never got asked to a dance, never had a date, and any boy I had a crush on was just a really good friend...again.

But when I left school and went into the army, everything changed. I lost so much weight and was asked out a lot. It felt amazing. I have to admit, as embarrassing as it is, that having gone from no attention to an excessive amount of attention, I made a lot of bad choices. I hadn't created the kind of respect for myself that I deserved, and it showed in the choices I made and in the boys I dated. I really wish I had grown up with more self-esteem and understood that I deserved better. When you're a woman who grows up with low self esteem, you tend to make the kinds of mistakes that create a lot of shame and only continue to wreak havoc on your self esteem. I think it kind of goes back to the idea that a boy goes out with a lot of girls is "lucky" but a girl that goes out with a lot of boys is "easy". While my girlfriends were being wined and dined and making their beaus work for their attention, I didn't think that I deserved the same. It wasn't until I met my husband, to be honest, that I realized that I deserved only the best.

All of this is to say that as much as you saw Thing 1's actions as reminiscent of your experiences, I can tell you that I am very proud of her for setting such high standards for herself. At 17, it is so easy to want to please everyone and be popular and have a boyfriend. To be able to recognize what she does and doesn't want in a prospective boyfriend at her age speaks to the fact that you've raised a strong, confidant young lady. As you very well know and as so many of us know, you do not want to grow up being the kid that gets picked last. Believe you me, not enough young girls have the kind of self-esteem that she seems to have. You did a great job and you should be proud. Seeing as you did such a great job, I'm sure Thing 1 broke off the date in a very respectful manner!

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BE-THE-CHANGE 12/29/2013 3:29PM

    I don't know, the thing that caught my eye was "his unfiltered brutal honesty". Perhaps Thing 1 was not so superficial and there is more to the story. (This from the fat smart girl in high school...two strikes against me.)

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1CRAZYDOG 12/29/2013 3:14PM

    OH boy, I agree with TRI-ANGLEWOMAN. Kids start dating waaay too young (as she says . . . about 1st grade!) and it's a difficult road to navigate.

Well, I remember the Past Me @ age 17 and I was probably lots like your beloved Thing 1, so I get it. Looking back with adult eyes, I see how you feel too!

It's fun having teens, isn't it! emoticon

Mark, I hope you stay sparked . . . it is always a pleasure -- honestly! -- reading your thoughtful, humorous blogs.

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MARYANN2323 12/29/2013 2:24PM

    This might give you an inside look on how it was with the girl/girls of your childhood. As you said, it was not all the boy's fault. Take that to heart.

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PHEBESS 12/29/2013 1:41PM

    While your daughter rejected the nameless boy based on something over which he has no control, she was rejecting him based on his personality - which is a whole different thing than something superficial such as obesity. And, well, you wouldn't want the brutally honest kid to be a future son-in-law, right? You want someone who is friendly and chatty and willing to cheer on the Ravens with you.

So while you identify with the kid in some ways, I can assure you (from 25 years of teaching, including students somewhere along that autism scale) that he probably isn't feeling as upset or hurt or rejected as you are. If he truly has Asperger's, he's more confused by her emotions than he is hurt. Just how the brain processes things.

Hugs, buck up, she'll find someone, and you'll eventually cry and rejoice at her wedding. (Dare I tease you by calling you Grandpa already?)

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ADARKARA 12/29/2013 1:05PM

    Rejection most certainly comes in many forms! The most hurtful ones for me have been because of my weight, and that one guy who told me he couldn't see me any more because I was "interfering with his relationship with Jesus". Re-friggin-diculous.

But I suspect that you, like me, have found the right person for you in the long run, so perhaps it isn't all bad? emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 12/29/2013 1:00PM

    Your daughter IS "entitled" to make her own decisions about whether she finds a new date compatible -- and (given she would apparently like to have a more vibrant dating life) I've gotta assume that she gave this new dude a fair opportunity.

I reread your earlier blog -- and reread my comment on that blog. Yeah. There IS discrimination against the obese in our society and that's a fact. But I'm still pretty much in agreement with (duh, no surprise) my previous comment. Just wish wish wish that I had figured out much much much earlier that the work it requires to manage my metabolism was worth it. And applied as much energy to managing it as I did to achieving various other stuff . . .

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SHERYLDS 12/29/2013 12:57PM

    Thing 1 and Thing II are gorgeous kids and you are very very lucky.
I gave my poor Dad ulcers . By the time I was a Junior in High School, I was sneaking into dances at Fordham University with fake proof.

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WOUBBIE 12/29/2013 12:27PM

    Human beings negotiating the minefield of relationships... Ugh. The greatest revelation I ever had about myself in terms of relationships was when I tested my personality type and showed up as an INTJ, lol:

BR>No, really, I'm totally NOT THAT DULL. (Or am I?......)

Not sure how accurate these statistics are, but "The INTJ personality type is one of the rarest and most interesting types – comprising only about 2% of the U.S. population (INTJ females are especially rare – just 0.8%)." Don't I know it!

Actually, learning about my personality type gave me a measure of relief, because I realized that I am who I am and that someone out there would appreciate that fact without my having to change anything. (Bless your heart, Dear Husband - you da man!)

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ECOAGE 12/29/2013 11:53AM

    "I give you the Tralfamadorian greeting: Hello. Farewell. Hello. Farewell. Eternally connected, eternally embracing. Hello. Farewell."

Lucky for us that we can continue practicing the social graces here in Sparkyland. High school never ends.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GREENGENES 12/29/2013 10:58AM

    Thanks! I missed this the first time around while I was "lost". Very touching and insightful. I occasionally think back on all the opportunities I missed during those years because of silly "fears" and have tried to help Junior overcome them but it is a lesson we all have to learn in our own way.

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NOMIS1 12/29/2013 9:22AM

    What a touching blog.

I was that fat, quiet girl so I can feel that boy.

Some things just never change.

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KANOE10 12/29/2013 8:56AM

    I was also an awkward and socially inexperienced teen who was chubby and never reached the social acceptance of others. I made up for it in sports and academics. Teens are a rough time for everyone. I am glad you are close to both of your children and yes, I also feel for the boy involved.

The good thing is that we do grow into adults and get past the teen need for peer approval and start accepting ourselves.

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 12/29/2013 8:16AM

    No child should be "dating" in first grade and this when the sport and heart break begins now a days. Kids today are raised to view dating and relationships as a sport/game/entertainment instead of what it is really for - finding the future father of your children.

Luckily, I homeschooled my kids for 15 years and when they finally went to public school, they were grossed out by what they saw and the attitudes they encountered.

Mission accomplished. They are not prudes by any means, but they believe in improving themselves before they have anything to offer another person. Boys would be well schooled to think the same as any boy they smile at or have a conversation with thinks they want to date/hook up/have some sort of relationship with.

Stop the maddness and tell your kids to wait until they are in a bigger and more selective pool to fish (college and/or real life) It won't kill them.

Comment edited on: 12/29/2013 8:17:21 AM

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