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Honestly...I'm Exhausted

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Truth is, the people I meet throughout my daily activities don't know me. (I sound like one of those girls on Maury now...) They don't understand my struggles or that I've actually lost over 150 pounds from my highest weight. What they see is the "after" picture from Phase II that is only a "before" picture of me starting Phase III. While most times this is just how I want it, it has its downsides.

I doubt they'd look at me that way...if only they knew. Knew that I could probably run circles around them in the gym. Knew that I eat more reasonably than they do about 85% of the time. Knew that I do all this while under extreme pressure and pain from my back and hips and pelvis and foot, which, ironically, I've been told is not from carrying the weight and is more likely caused by losing it (or from my pesky kids who may have made a mess of me while finding their way into this world).

I also doubt they'd stare and gawk and make jokes and point and laugh if they understood the struggle I face every day.

Yes, it is still a struggle sometimes to pass up McDonald's after a 10-hour work day, 2 hours driving and an hour in the gym to go home and spend another hour or so in the kitchen whipping up a delicious and healthy meal that fits into my daily calorie allowance.

Sometimes I worry. I worry that I've become so damn obsessed with counting calories that my life has become consumed by it. I worry that I am slowly starting to develop an eating disorder - for don't they mostly come down to a mental need to control what you're eating because the rest of life is impossible to control?

I don't think I binge more now than I ever did. I've just become more aware of it and own up to it when I do it.

I do think I'm exhibiting signs of addiction to exercise, and total mental breakdown when I'm unable to do so.

All of this worries me on an almost daily basis. I spend countless hours of each day worrying about what I'm going to eat, what I'm going to have to avoid, how many cups of water to drink, how many pushups/situps/crunches I can do, when I last worked out and when I need to again.

And then I get that stare. Anyone who has been morbidly or seriously (or whatever they like to call it) obese understands the stare. There's usually a smirk or some disgusted face that comes with it. I remember two that I got from some kid and her mom at the Tennis Clinic at the Resort this weekend. In fact, I got more stares and glares there than I've gotten in a long time and it set me back about 2 years.

It's no secret that I still have body image issues. Who wouldn't when my entire body, when naked, looks like it's frowning.

And no amount of exercise is going to solve all these problems. I realize this. I know what happens when you drop 200+ pounds. I don't care how young you are or how many crunches you do, the damage is done, and the only way to undo it is through surgical means. And, let's face it, I'm still working on saving up money to buy a house...I really don't have the money for surgery. And I doubt with the decline of coverage from most insurance companies these days there will be any way to convince the a$$hats over at my insurance agency that it's needed.

And while I'm struggling with all of this mess of weight loss, or as people like to call it - "getting healthy" - I'm also struggling with the emotional battles that continue to rage on in my head. The struggles of every day life seem to consume me at times, making it hard to focus. My brain shifts from one thing to the next without ever taking a break. Even my dreams are filled with impossible decisions and tasks that will only get me halfway to where I want to be.

But every day I push it down. I push down the fears and uncertainty and just keep going. A kind of "cross that bridge when you get there" way of thinking. I have to get there first to even begin to figure out where I'll go from there.

And that road ahead of me looks daunting too.

I started this journey with a bunch of seriously overweight people who were great friends. And I've watched with joy and, yes, sometimes jealousy, as they've hit every goal I've had and made it to maintenance mode. I've watched them go from Lane Bryant to the Gap, and while I feel extremely happy for them, it makes me very sad.

I just keep thinking...

"It took me almost two full years just to get where they started."

THAT, my friends, is sad.

I keep telling myself not to think that way, but sometimes it's unavoidable. I listen to my best friend talk about her struggles to lose 25 pounds and I have a million tons of advice for her, which she may never take, but I also realize that she could start two years from now, or maybe four, and would likely get there before me. And when she gets there, she'll look amazing and get tons of praise. And I'll be left with mountains of saggy skin and that sad face naked body.

I must say that I am extremely grateful for the people I know in my life who understand this feeling. Okay, so maybe there's only two. But at least there are two. Every woman wants to have that one friend they can turn to and not say a word but know exactly the feeling...and laugh our a$$es off because we know that people don't fully understand, as much as they want to and try, they just can't.

Let me tell you honestly. We all have that moment when we're teenagers or whatever when we think nobody understands us. Some of us carry that into adulthood. And when you find that one other person who just seems to "get it" feels so validating - like you can finally take a deep breath and let it all go.

I see people all the time touting mantras about loving your body and all that.

Sorry, I don't.

I haven't loved my body...well, I don't think I ever did. I was always overweight and I knew that. I never liked how I looked and did my best to hide it. Later in life, I tried accepting it, but it's hard to accept yourself when you feel like you constantly have to defend yourself to the world at large. I'm sick and tired of defending myself. But I still feel like I must.

Because they don't look at me and know that my abs, thighs, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms are so sore it almost feels like the muscles are detaching from around the bone and are going to fall apart. They don't realize that soreness isn't from trying to walk from the car to my office, but from 45 minutes spent doing no less than 80 squats, 40 pushups, 80 reverse crunches, russian twists, high knee runs in place, ski jumps with a medicine ball, alternating step-back lunges - and doing them to the point of failure.

They look at me and see a morbidly obese woman (still!). One that winces in pain which, they assume, is from inactivity.

If you don't know they feeling, just settle back and imagine it.
You've lost 165 pounds.
No surgery, no magic diet pills. Just hard work - healthy diet and exercise over the span of the past 8 years.
And you're still seen simply as a morbidly obese (read: fat and lazy) woman.

It's infuriating at times.

I went from Super Super Morbidly Obese (that's super super stupid, btw...) to Morbidly Obese and I still feel like I have nothing to show for it.

Because I may have another 8 years ahead of me.
It will take me another nearly 50 pounds to even get down to the Severely Obese range.
When I finally get to 230 (my current goal), I still won't even be in the simply Obese range.
(And, yes, I know BMI is crap...I'm just using this as an example.)

*bangs head on desk*

Yes, yes, I know what I'm fighting for.
No, I have no intention of giving up.
Yes, I realize things could be worse.


I'm sick and tired of this bulls-hit!

Because the God's honest truth is - this is mentally and physically exhausting. Not the eating right and working out part. Yes, that part gets hard sometimes. But I've become used to it. It's become part of my life now. I miss working out when I don't get to. I like the taste of healthy food over greasy nasty food. Got it. Good. Great.

But what's exhausting is the mental struggle. The constant worry about my calorie counts, that I'm just not doing enough, that I'm never going to get there, and that when I do it won't be enough. And those flippin' looks. Those are the most exhausting. Feeling the rage that burns inside of me when I get that look and know that I've been pre-judged based just on how I look. GAH! Will it ever end?

In 50 pounds.
Or another 100.
Or another 150, maybe.

...or never.

Honestly, when I take a break, sometimes it's just a mental break from the nonsense. From overthinking it. From trying too hard. From constantly feeling like I'm failing because nothing is good enough.

It's time to plan another month of workouts...and all I can think is how I've failed myself this month. How I skipped last night's workout because I was so comfy (and sore) on the couch with my boys just sharing the time with them. How I went out to eat (again) and ate to just over full (even though, honestly, it didn't kill my calories for the day - I was still in my ranges so I should be okay with it ...but I'm not, because I could've done more, been better, and I'm up 3 pounds from Monday's weigh-in at the gym and I constantly feel like the battle is neverening).

*shoves down the fears*
*plans anyway*

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MANLEYSANDY 1/20/2012 3:56PM


I think you are such a strong person, and what an awesome attitude that you will never give up! But you are right to feel tired, frustrated and all those things! We are human beings first and have feelings that are valid, sometimes they are positive and sometimes they are negative! Whoever says that they never have down moments and thoughts, in the immortable words of Gregory House, are lying!!!

You keep as strong as you can, and just worry about you!

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SARAWALKS 1/19/2012 1:10PM

I could no way no how do the workout you've described.
My hat goes off to you.
Love the idea of the BEFORE photo AND the T-shirt, maybe with the photo you posted with the boxing gloves. And maybe the finger beneath it, on the back...
but then I am always thinking of T-shirts to be in people's faces about something but I never get them made...

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BAYBELIEVER 1/19/2012 11:23AM

    Esther, right there with you. Well not quite. I started at somewhere around 420, lost 90 gained 30. Which was really stupid but life messed me up. And I am still at it (as I was then, just not paying enough attention). And what I am learning is that this is exhausting. The workouts are awesome. Eating well is awesome. But the planning, the paying attention, the commitment every single day, every single moment, is exhausting. And I have to say exasperating. Because I am learning that I want this healthier feeling. And to have that, whether the scale moves or not, is still going to be exhausting. And this is my life. For the rest of it. And the looks. Oh the looks. Sometimes I kid about wanting to wear a t-shirt that says "Lost XX pounds" and on the back "Bet I can out-lift you!" I want people to see me for what I have and am accomplishing. I know how it feels to let a look affect you in that way. But, I/we can't let that happen. We are working hard. We have worked hard. And, yes, we have a long way to go (and for the record you are one of the people that I am envious of). But, we will get there. And I worry I am becoming addicted too. But, like you said here, I will have to worry about that bridge if and when I get to it. Right now. I am hoping to get out of the 300s this year. Just like you. And you are way closer!! And I am here cheering you on and hoping it happens before the end of January for you!!!

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SASSAGAIN 1/18/2012 6:57PM

    E, I have to agree with my doppleganger with a different spelling, Katie makes perfect sense. F@*$ the haters. they don't know what you've been through. No one knows what others have been through. They don't realize that you have a wonderful supportive family, and that you are bending yourself over backwards to be there for them and try and carve out some time for you to make sure you are healthy and are there for your family in the future.

There is no advice that I can give you that you have not already heard, so I won't. just know that you are not alone, ever. That your friends here are not going away, we keep coming back for more, really. LOL

I know that you are tired, you said that and I can hear it and the bone deep frustration that you are feeling. So when do we get to see your plan for the next month? are stickers involved? or stamps? cause I like stickers. put your schedule in your office and at home. not to fuel your exhaustion, but instead, to fuel your determination. You've promised your body and mind that you are taking this time for yourself. I know that I'd love to spend more time reading or spending time with my boys (DH and DS) but that I have tp put myself as a priority at least once a day. And that time is the time I use for my workouts and Spark.

Food wise and calorie counting, you've done this for so long that you probably know how much you eat even when you don't physically track it. Don't let it consume you. I have time to only track food once a day, so I'll do it all at once, right before or after dinner, and if Ive gone over...I forgive myself and try and figure out what it was that did it, if I'm under, then I decide if deserve a little treat...more chocolate chips with my almonds? an apple? I try to make it a good choice, but even if it isn't, I'm not going to worry. I've found that one day of over isn't going to derail me, cause I won't let it.

You have the tenacity and strength of will that has made you lose 160 pounds. Damn, girl. That's a whole other person. if you can do that, you can do it again.

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    My heart goes out to you because I truly know and understanad how you feel. I'm well aware of the "looks" we get from being morbidly obese (I truly hate that word too, morbid) and even after we lose the weight our bodies dont just snap back into place. It gets better just not what our minds picture our bodies to look like after the transformation takes place.
I've never loved myself (body or otherwise) so its been a constant battle and one that I can say I'm much stronger for fighting.

Keep those blinders on deary and only pay attention to the things that can help you reach your goals!

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4EVERADONEGIRL 1/18/2012 1:28PM

    Even though I can't say that I fully understand, I definitely do understand to a degree! I've lost about 70 lbs, but it's been such a long journey...and I've been at the same weight for several years with no forward progress, most of the people in my real-life have either a) forgotten I looked the way I did or; b) never knew me when I was heavier. I almost want, at times, to run around with a shirt that has my before picture on it and says "I used to look like THIS". Not for the recognition or praise, well, maybe just a little bit, but so they would know that I've been working REALLY, REALLY freaking hard just to get to where I am and to stay here even if I'm not still currently losing! Because, like you, no matter what the scale says, my body is a sad face and bears the marks of many years of eating abuses and child birthing. It will never be a cute body no matter how much I lose. And that is what is HARD.

My hubby reminds me all the time that I'm blessed with an overly optimistic and positive mindset...and he's right. I watch his struggles and I wouldn't want to have a brain that rehashes all that it's done wrong and all it will never do right. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that you have accomplished so much - don't forget where you started even if everybody else has!!! Yes, the road is long, but you've already traveled it and have learned a lot about how to navigate it!

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ERIN1128 1/18/2012 12:17PM

    I'm wondering if it might make sense to put up a "before" pic of yourself in your office. Not only would it make you feel good, as a reminder every day of how far you've come, but then your colleagues would look at it and go holy cow, you've lost so much weight, that's amazing! and admire you for how far you've come, instead of just thinking that you're letting yourself go and not doing anything about it. Just a thought. Hang in there, babe.

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LILY_SPARK 1/18/2012 11:53AM

    I can't begin to understand your situation.

I come from generations of eating disorders, though. I got 2 overtraining injuries a while back, when I discovered the HIGH (endorphins but also CONTROL!!!!) I had when burning 900 calories a day (and I have a small body). I binge. I had never purged til I got on that kick of "exercise abuse." My body (I have lupus) can't heal as well as other people and those injuries cost me $5000 or I would be running right now.

I haven't fixed myself. I could be so much physically healthier (can't control the lupus and various other things "wrong" with my body, though) and yet, if I don't get a handle on my emotional health, it'll never be "right." I'll always be a "repeat offender" or I'll continue to beat myself up with impossible comparisons and "caring" (deeply) what others say (or I even imagine due to their looks) about me.

I've recently had a bit of an awakening about this. It's not that I've figured it out. It's not that I've mastered that self-love or stopping caring/ obsessing what others are doing, saying, thinking, look like.

I've been blogging on my personal blog about it some.<
I don't know if that jives with some of what you're thinking or not. I know it's not what you're FEELING right now but your blog resonated with some of my feelings and those are some of my reflections that came from them.


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KAILYNSTAR 1/18/2012 11:10AM

    I wish that there was something for me to say that would be inspirational and such. I understand where you are coming from. I am awed by what you have accomplished so far and continue to accomplish each and every day.

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX10 1/18/2012 10:47AM


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KATIE2POINT0 1/18/2012 10:32AM

    This comment may not be 100% appropriate so if you are easily offended you have been warned to stop reading... F@*$ them E!! You are beautiful no matter what your weight... it's only snotty, inconsiderate, self absorbed, superficial witches that think otherwise. I know how you feel. The trainer I go to trains Miss USA girls... the looks burn through the back of my head the whole time I am there. I find myself putting on extra make up and buying expensive gym clothes to try to make it stop but it won't. But you know what, I seriously doubt any of them can do this "45 minutes spent doing no less than 80 squats, 40 pushups, 80 reverse crunches, russian twists, high knee runs in place, ski jumps with a medicine ball, alternating step-back lunges - and doing them to the point of failure." My body hurts just thinking about all of that and if you can do it and move at all the next morning you are my hero! I have noticed a bit of obsessiveness with my workouts and food lately too and my boyfriend actually called me out on it. He tries so hard to be supportive but it has pretty much taken over my life. There needs to be a balance. You have an amazing family and finding more time with them is going to help tremendously with your mental well being... and if you're thin and unhappy what was the point of all this hard work anyway!? Big HUGS. I heart you and it hurts my heart to know it is this kind of day/week/month/ whatever for you.

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KKINNEA 1/18/2012 10:30AM

    emoticonI can't imagine the mental exhaustion you must feel at times but I'm always encouraged by the fact that you are a fighter. My wish for you is strength on your journey!

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KATIBUG49 1/18/2012 10:16AM

    You had a lot of great things to say about your feelings & what you have been through,sometimes it helps to get your feelings down on paper. I'm right there with you in a lot of the things you say but don't put yourself down. You sound like you have accomplished a lot &maybe it's slow for you but remember "YOU DID IT!" So never give up on yourself & never let someone else put you down, just keep strong & you will be at the Gap before you know it.
I don't usually take time to read long blogs but something in me said to read yours. I was very moved with reading what you had to say! Thank you for taking the time to write it all down.


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A Greenbrier Weekend

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Okay, so I broke one of my rules and had to swap some workouts. My friend Andrea came into WV for the weekend and we met down at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. This meant 2 things - that rule of not eating out more than 2x/wk? Yeah, that one had to go. And the one about sticking to my scheduled workout, no matter what?! Uhm, sorry...that one went too...BUT! I swapped my workouts for something else and managed to keep myself in a pretty healthy state all weekend.

First of all, let me say that I felt two things immediately upon arriving at the Greenbrier.

1) INTIMIDATED! The place is huge and beautiful. Everyone knows you by your name (because they make sure to put it somewhere they can see it - like on the sticker in your car...of course, for me, this meant being called Ms. D- by everyone as my friend had made the reservation in her name. *lol*). I knew I'd need to have cash to tip people and then on my first encounter I simply forgot (was trying to juggle baggage, phone, and speaking with the gentleman helping me with the bags). OOPS! (Don't worry, I didn't forget the next time.) Anyhow, I could tell this was a fancy place. This is where the celebs come for the Greenbrier classic, where Presidents and foreign diplomats have stayed for ...well, forever, it seems! It's not generally a place the average WVian gets to visit, let alone stay at!

2) Did I just walk onto the set of Dirty Dancing?! While the place didn't look exactly like that, it had that aire about it. It's an all-inclusive type resort. You put your bags down and then your car never leaves the parking lot. Everything is on site. There are activities planned for nearly every minute of every day - from croquet to tennis clinics to horseback riding to fly fishing to spa visits to shopping, dining...the works! I parked my car Friday afternoon at 3pm. I didn't see it again until Sunday at noon! *lol*

The Recap:

Before I could leave, I had to get Ethan to the eye doctor. Just as I suspected, my boy's vision is WAY off. 20/50. He needs glasses. We got them ordered. He's flitting between being scared of being teased and thinking it's cool because it make him unique. I'm just worried that he doesn't lose them or break them (these are pretty difficult to break though...the girl folded them in half to demonstrate!).

I left just after noon or so. Three hours later, I arrived in White Sulphur Springs, avoided the valet like it was my job, and parked my car. I waited near the registration desk for my friend to arrive 30 minutes later and then we were off.

The hotel room had two plush double beds. COMFY! With about a dozen pillows each! *lol* The TV was on when we walked in (which kinda irked me...conserve, people!). The hall to get to the elevator to the 6th floor we were in was so long I thought the dude was back at registration laughing at us because he told us to "simply follow the corridor until you come to the elevators" (yeah, three miles later! *exaggeration, of course*). Our bathroom had a vanity with lighted mirror (yay!), double sinks, and a bidet. Yep, a friggin' bidet. With instructions on how to use it (which we didn't *lol*). We knew what we were getting into right there. We unpacked, I changed out of my jeans (dress codes, people, no denim after 7pm!) and then headed downstairs for tea. Yes, tea. With a dance and piano playing throughout. (Good tea, too! We both went British and splashed in a little milk for good measure. And they had little biscuits too. One was even shaped like a mouse!)

A waltz before tea...


That one on the left in the middle? That's the smallest freshly made Chocolate Chip Cookie I've ever had!

Heard nearby - a grandmother to her grandson (about 5) -
Grandma: "Hey, look! It's a mouse."
Boy looks.
Grandma: "Want to bite it's head off!?"
(I nearly snorted tea out of my nose...)

There are shops all along one corridor, there's a casino, and several restaurants. I told Andrea that I needed to workout because I hadn't done that yet, but by the time we rolled around to that, the fitness center was closed...but the pool wasn't. It was a super long pool. The largest I'd ever been in. And, thankfully, they had roped off a lap lane for people like us. We did 8 of the longest laps of my life, stopping to take breaks here and there and talk and catch up. No pics, sorry. We spent a lot of time just chatting and catching up. Andrea took more pics than I did and the fact that I don't have pics of everything shows just how much fun I was having.

Other cool things about the pool area? There was a lifeguard on duty. There were actual full changing rooms with a bathroom area that included a shower and toilet, and then a changing area with a vanity. You can come without anything other than your clothes and bathing suit (no wearing that around the hotel!) because they provide everything you might have forgotten. Towels, of course, but also hairspray, aerosol deodorant, shaving cream, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, rubbing alcohol (? not sure why), q-tips, combs (individually wrapped), razors, mouthwash, hair dryer, styling gel... *gasps for breath*. :) There is also something called a "bathing suit dryer" which spins your bathing suit around in this little tub super fast to get the water off it. SO cool! I want one! Also in the locker room? A scale. :) I weighed myself immediately and saw that it was giving me a reading similar to the one at home. I continued to weigh myself every single morning to gauge my progress over the weekend. (Actually lost a couple ounces according to that scale.) Also, they had scales in the bathrooms of each hotel room...that go up to 300. *pounds head on mirror* SO close!

So after swimming, we showered and got all dressed up fancy to go down to a restaurant called Prime 44 West, dedicated to Jerry West, a WV native and the guy my husband calls "Mr. NBA". *lol* We had set our reservations at 8:45pm (late, I know, but we had a late night planned anyhow). The food was pretty good. Nothing over the top OMG amazing. The steaks? Not a single one under $50. NO WAY! I had a vegetarian Wild Mushroom Tart that was $36, some brussels sprouts (my first time ever - they were good!), some mac-n-cheese that was just alright, and my favorite - Lobster Bisque soup. YUM! (But I did get a portion of shell...which after paying nearly $20 for a bowl of soup, I think is pretty outrageous!) Then Andrea ordered some pistachio creme brulee (sp? and I've never had either pistachios or creme brulee, so more firsts for me), which was pretty darn good, actually, with some blueberries on the side.

All dressed up for dinner at Prime 44 the really cool elevator!

After dinner, and 2 glasses of wine each, we were a little tipsy. (Oh yes, there was wine!) So we giggled our way to the casino where I lost myself just 5 bucks (because that's all I played! *lol*) and we walked around a bit and talked and walked outside looking at the lights and such before heading upstairs and planning our next day.

A crappy picture of us outside by the back tree. There was another tree out front, but it had a slight problem...

"Who ate my tree?!"

*lol* Yep, it's still funny...even sober.


So we had a full day planned Saturday, or so we thought. We did end up with a little downtime, but we just took a nap so we could keep going. First things first? Breakfast!!! OMG I was so hungry when I woke up both clue why (okay, well I know why I was super hungry Sunday, but that comes later). My one major complaint about the resort? For some reason they don't believe in breakfast. The room service menu included $5 bagels, $4 bowls of cereal and some friggin' oatmeal. And like 12 different kinds of juice. *shrug* Not one egg. No pancakes. WTF, dudes!? I went downstairs to the coffee shop and got myself a bagel, a banana, and some coffee! (Yay for coffee!!).

About 9:30am we started to head downstairs to meet the shuttle that would take the other side of the resort grounds for... A TENNIS CLINIC! *lol* Seriously, was the most intimidating and the most fun thing I did all weekend. Here are Andrea and I, with like NO tennis experience (I kept telling her that we call it "That game where we chase the ball around the court that we missed") with 2 people decked out in tennis gear. I'm just glad I was able to ignore the 8 year old girls killing it in the tourney next to us! *lol* I learned a lot in that hour. Mostly that I do really suck at tennis, but I can get better. I wasn't watching the ball enough for one. By the time we ended the volley session, I was able to aim the ball back at our instructor a little better. And then it was serving time... *evil laugh* Okay, so you know most people, if they suck at any part of tennis more than another, it's generally serving (and backhand, but let's forget I even mentioned that because we sucked so bad he didn't even want to SEE our backhand swing! *lol*). Well, I must be strange (no comments, please! ;) ) because that's the part I'm good at. He saw 4 serves from me, corrected one thing about my swing (adding in a backstroke at the beginning), which I picked up immediately, and he saw that I was hitting it inside the correct box on the court each and every dang time! He firmly announced that *I* was going to be their designated server. :) At the end of our clinic, he turned to me and said, "Okay, Esther. One shot. You get one serve. You get it in, and *I'LL* pick up all the balls." All 3 other girls laughed and said, "You can do it!" And can you believe, I friggin' hit the thing in? (We still helped him pick up all the balls.) He said, "I can't believe it!" I told him it was an ugly serve, but he said getting it in was all that mattered.


I can now check a tennis lesson off my list, but...I want more! I talked to the people there about some people here in Charleston that might be able to give me lessons, so I'm going to look into that soon. I think I might be able to be semi-good at it! (And then I can really smoke my step-brother! HA!)

After tennis we tried the spinning bikes, basically because neither of us had been on one. I lasted 7.5 minutes...she lasted about double that. My legs were jello! (Not to mention my knee did it's famous pop out-in routine on the tennis court). We headed back to the hotel (we walked, cuz we're cool like that) and then showered and got dressed for lunch. We ate at this place called Draper's...mainly because I'd seen the night before that they had Chicken Pot Pie and I thought it'd probably be delish. (Honestly, mine is better! *lol*) It was a 45-minute wait, but we just headed over to the coffee shop for a cooking demonstration before we went back to be seated. (My other complaint is our waiter sorta kinda sucked...but whatever. I was too tired and hungry to care by that point.)

My girl, Andrea, at lunch.

Chicken Pot Pie...and french fries. Oh, I didn't mention those? Oops! *lol* Didn't much matter since this was to be my High Calorie Day (but probably wasn't anyhow...never finished by pot pie and only ate 1/2 the fries and we didn't eat dinner that night because we were still so full!).

Andrea had Apple Pie a la Mode for dessert. The little individual apple pies were adorable!

And me??

I had a perfectly Eloise at the Plaza moment. *big grin*

After lunch there was really only one thing left to do (after tea, of course). SLEEP! *lol* We took a nice long nap in our comfy beds before getting up to get dolled up again for a comedy act we were scheduled to see that night.

Dude on the left was hilarious! Dude on the right? It was painful to watch. He was afraid of his audience. He assumed they were all ritzy rich people and his old "I'm poor" jokes wouldn't work. I just wanted to yell up at him, "Just do your regular routine!" but I didn't want to be THAT girl. Still, it was sad and I felt like he just needed a hug after. :/

Even though Andrea and I tried to find something more "adult" to do after that...we'd done pretty much everything by now (and we had no intention of drinking anymore after the night before! *lol*). So we went back in the theatre, grabbed a cup of popcorn, and watched The Muppets! *lol* (Corny, but good.)

We crashed right after.


It was check out day but, thankfully, they don't make you check out until noon, and we had one last thing to do. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of our next event, and I'll explain why in a second. However, I did snap some of the rooms we wandered through while we were waiting for tea the day before. Warning - pictures can't do this place justice. Here's one.

This isn't even one of the designated "ballrooms". I wish you could get a sense how HUGE this chandelier is. WOW!

So, what were we waiting for? The bunker tour! Turns out Eisenhower's administration commissioned a fallout shelter to be built at the Greenbrier during the height of the Cold War. Everything was top secret...and the cover story? A construction of a new "wing" of rooms at the Greenbrier...the wing we actually stayed in! All weekend we were sleeping over top of this bunker, a fallout shelter built to house all the members of Congress and one staff member each for up to 75 days in the event of a nuclear bomb from our Russian friends. The thing was kept secret (officially, though the locals knew something was up) for over 30 years before a reporter cracked the story and the government admitted to it and (after 3 years of declassifying parts of the information), turned it back over to the Greenbrier.

I couldn't take any pictures of the three floor bunker that was built in the side of a hill because CSX IP is using it now to store valuable data for the top Fortune 500 companies in the nation - no cell phones, no cameras, nothing that might possibly interrupt the signals being sent out. The hour and half tour was awesome! It got you thinking about what other secrets our government keeps. They were going to house the members of Congress dorm-style, serving them in a dining room only built to serve 1/3 of them, requiring 3 turns of service for each meal (which meant they put the most uncomfortable tables and chairs in there). It had 3 huge water housing units in the lowest portion, along with three ginormous drums of diesel fuel to run the diesel generator back-up system, and a huge incinerator which was to be used to destroy all personal items and clothing members of Congress and their staff arrived with (putting them all in army fatigues) as well as the destruction of human remains, if necessary.

Wiki's info on The Bunker.

A link to a PBS feature on The Bunker.

After our tour, we checked out, dropped our bags in the car and I went back in to buy some goodies for the boys and Hubs. Then we ate in town at a local pizzeria (April's Pizzeria), which was SO good, before heading our separate ways.

It was a good trip. And I ended up working out, eating semi-healthy while still indulging, and losing some weight to boot!

Yesterday I caught up with the boys, got the puppy in to get his nails clipped, gave him a flea bath, took everyone to dinner, and we took turns playing video games the rest of the day.

Oh, and I headed to the gym for another weigh-in. 301.4 was my official number after a round of 45 minute NTC circuit training (which OMG I can feel today!). I dropped .6% body fat in a month...and now my target weight is set even lower. *bangs head on desk* *lol* I'm still aiming for 230 for now, though. (Think they have my target at 215 now.) So, all in all, not a bad weekend. It was hard to get back to the daily grind today...but I'm working it out. Going to try to hit Zumba tonight and see if I can last all the way through this time (we'll least 30 minutes though!). I'm having dinner with a friend, so I may miss it, but I've got my Zumba at home too, so no excuses for missing a workout!

Have a great week everyone!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SARAWALKS 1/19/2012 1:18PM

    Incredible! And the bunker stuff is fascinating. I'd heard of that but didn't know much about it at all!
I hope you COMPLAINED about the shell in your soup! I think one thing rich people do is COMPLAIN a lot about every little thing. But then, you are WAY NICER than that and so you probably just slipped it surreptitiously onto your plate.
So glad you got to do this! Tennis lesson sounds fabulous! emoticon emoticon

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KKINNEA 1/18/2012 10:21AM

    Sounds like an amazing time at an amazing destination!

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JAZZMINE 1/17/2012 6:55PM

    Thanks for the great travelog! I have always wanted to go to the Greenbrier.


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RUSSELLORAMA 1/17/2012 6:44PM

    How fun does that sound? I'm glad you got to hang out with your friend and stay in such a beautiful place.

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4EVERADONEGIRL 1/17/2012 5:36PM

    Sounds like an absolutely AMAZING weekend! Lucky girl! Glad you had a good time and you look absolutely gorgeous in the pics!

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    What an awesome place, that ballroom was devine! Sounds like a really fun time and you did wonderful on your plan!
Way to rock the weekend!

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HARMONYBLUE 1/17/2012 4:53PM

    wow, I'm jealous. I so need a girl's weekend!

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BAYBELIEVER 1/17/2012 4:34PM

    What an awesome weekend! And, might I say, you are looking magnificent!!

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ERIN1128 1/17/2012 4:06PM

    So glad you had a great time, you deserve it! Love your "Eloise at the Plaza moment," LOL!

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LILY_SPARK 1/17/2012 3:23PM

    What a fancy place! Looks like a great time :)

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX10 1/17/2012 2:45PM

    Sounds like a fabulous weekend. emoticon

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Week 2 Menus - Week 1 Recap and Thoughts

Monday, January 09, 2012

First of all, thank you for all the birthday wishes! I really appreciate the love, support, and encouragement! :)

Weight Last Week: 306.4
Weight this Sunday: 304.4
Loss/Gain: -2 pounds!

Total SP Loss: -111.8
Total Overall Loss: -162.2

emoticon 5 for 5 on my workouts last week!
I have yet to run again, but I did all my mileage this week - even dragging Hubs with me on Saturday for my 3.0 to end out my 30th. :) I did both of my Zumba routines at home this week for 2 reasons: 1) I didn't know how it would go and I didn't want to walk out of class crying again, and 2) I had early days this week (got off at 4:30pm instead of 6pm) because of the holiday, so I got to be home with the boys more. Everything went pretty well, actually. Still a little tight in my back and my hip can cause problems here and there, but I got through every workout well, so I have no problem thinking I can again this week.

emoticon I made healthy meals at home!
We tweaked the menu a little bit, but I still cooked healthy meals at home for the family. Granted, I did go over my "eat out no more than 2 times a week" rule, but only by one - Subway after my 3 miles with Hubs on Saturday. We didn't expect the alone time, so it was nice and I was good that day and was within my goals. :) Honestly, this one is already going to the crapper since all my friends have invited me out this week for my birthday. I ate out yesterday with the fam, I go out Wednesday night with an old friend from the paper, I go out Thursday night with the newest bestie, and then I'm going out of town this weekend with growing up bestie. So, yeah...this one's going to hell! I'm still trying to stick to cooking at home every other night and making sure there are healthy lunches packed for work.

emoticon I've been drinking my water and, other than Saturday, I remembered my supplements every single day! *proud*

emoticon I packed my lunch every single day but one, and that day I ordered a somewhat healthy sub from Jimmy John's and really enjoyed the "treat" that didn't break the calorie bank.

- I have yet to buy my supplies for my first craft project, but I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I want to get started on.

* Cassoulet - even without the Herbes de Provence it still turned out good
* Swedish Meatballs - needs something, but pretty darn good
* Brown Sugar Chicken - NASTY! Not making that again. Logan and Shane liked it, but they like everything.
* Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole - It's pretty yummy, actually. I'm going to cut out a little bit of cabbage next time (I used almost 2 full heads), but it's pretty yummy and after a few tweaks I'll be adding it into rotation. It's filling and super healthy and 3 out of 4 of us like it and the other one refuses to try it.
* Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie - worked out better than I expected. Once I perfect the recipe, I'll share. Basically, it was a little too soupy, so I need to cut back on some of the liquids and then we should be good...and this time I will be adding peas, salt and pepper. (forgot last time - I think this is on the menu for tomorrow).


* Uhm, confession? I don't exactly have my menu together yet. This weekend was a little nutty and I've been gettng those calls from my friends that keep changing things for me. I even went grocery shopping without a list (*gasp!*), but I do have a bit of an idea of what we'll be doing.

- Chicken Pot Pie: going to perfect this recipe
- Pork Chops: probably will fry these up tonight

I also still have split chicken breast and ground turkey in the freezer, as well as more chicken breast and chicken breast tenders. I'm going to spend some time today figuring out a plan.

Sunday - OFF
Monday - 1.5 miles & 30DS (L1:D3)
Tuesday - Zumba
Wednesday - OFF (STRETCH!)
Thursday - Zumba
Friday - Nike Training Camp*
Saturday - 3 miles

* Nike Training Camp - I've talked about this before (and am too lazy to go look through my blogs to find it), but it's an application on my iPhone, which provides prompts for circuit exercises for a circuit routine that is either 15, 30, or 45 minutes long. It's intense, but moves fast, and seems to be QUITE effective. Plus, it makes me feel that super woman feeling following a good workout. (I think there was a small fee for it, but not more than 10 bucks...probably not more than 5 bucks because, well, I'm cheap. *lol*)


Okay so, my birthday day kinda sucked. There, I said it. I suck without a plan and while I figured we'd just go to the movies after lunch, well, there wasn't crap playing that I 1) I wanted to see and 2) the boys could watch with us. So that was out. And there wasn't much else left. I didn't feel like hiking as my back was still tight from the 3 miles the day before. And most everything else was closed for the season or shut down or whatever. I got frustrated and stressed and considered just staying home. In hindsight, I probably should have. No, strike that. If I knew how it would turn out, I would have stayed home PERIOD.

We did go to lunch at Quaker Steak & Lube. I did order my cheeseburger. It wasn't that good. Dumb hookers overcooked the stupid thing so it was a dried out mess. Next year if I want a cheeseburger I'll make my own because I *hate* it when the restaurant overcooks it! (I've totally stopped ordering anything well, because even if you tell them medium, you will get it well done. Unless you go to a fancy place, the "cooks" in the back can't cook. I know that now.) My fries and onion rings were okay, but nothing great. It was a bust, a major bust. And the stomachache that followed? Didn't like that either. *pouts* Put that down as a lesson learned, mkaythnxbi!

After that? Well, after Hubs complained about the cost of lunch and I started to feel super guilty for making him pay for it, and with nothing really else to do...we ended up running errands. *bangs head on desk* I promise you, when I thought of all the things I might like to do on my birthday - running errands didn't make the top 100. *sigh* I stopped by Cato to check my pants size. I then walked down to Bath & Body Works because I needed new foaming soap (thank goodness I caught the clearance sale, though!). And then I headed to Petsmart, got the puppy a new collar once he grows out of the current one (it was on clearance), a harness, and then 2 engraved tags, one for each of our dogs with my information on the back. I've been meaning to do this for a while but never got the chance before. After that, I stopped at Kroger for my extra firm tofu and for a soda treat for everyone. And then off to the mall to get a watch battery replaced.

Yeah, not the best birthday, if you ask me. I went home pissed off that we wasted the day with this crap and I wasted calories on crap food and then I took a nap. Later, we did the whole cake thing, and I clipped coupons and did laundry and went to bed. I did finally get to watch some movies - One Day and I Don't Know How She Does It from the Redbox - but it just wasn't my ideal birthday celebration.

So, yeah. That was Sunday. There you go.

And about this high calorie day thing? OMFG I'm struggling with this one. Struggling with the guilt and fear that I just undid everything I did all week. I weighed in at 307.4 this morning, and even though I know I'm bloated and need to flush with some water today, well...I'm terrified. Yes, it's an experiment, but I'm scared, like always, of "wasting time" and that my body won't respond to this like it is supposed to. I'm trying to push those concerns away and just wait and see what happens. Either way, I doubt any other HCD will end up that crazy the rest of the month.

Anyhow, maybe this weekend will make up for it.

This weekend I'm going here:

Me and my friend Andrea will be checking in on Friday and checking out Sunday. It will be two blissful days of girl talk and drinks and whatever else. Almost everything is on site so if we want to gamble or bowl or watch a movie or swim or even play laser tag or ride a horse or play croquet, we just have to walk to where that is (and probably pay a huge fee) to do so. I'm a little worried about the cost of the "activities" but we found a special deal on the room and both of us really need this. (Andrea is the same friend I went to Vegas with for my birthday last year. We see each other about once a year so we try to make it special. And Hubs gives me a bunch of crap about spending too much money - which he did again yesterday, on my birthday...but anyhow...) So, yeah, I expect some laughter and maybe some tears and (if I can afford it) a friggin' massage or something! I need some downtime, honestly, so I'm hoping to have a great weekend.

Of course, that means that once again, my "don't eat out more than 2 times a week" rule is in the crapper, but I'm trying to be smart.

Wednesday - dinner with newspaper friend. I haven't seen her in over a year, so I'm super excited! I've suggested sushi, so that's healthy enough.

Thursday - dinner with bestie. She's suggested two local places which both offer the healthiest fare available around here - mostly organic, WV-grown, and lots of vegetarian options.

And then Friday and Saturday I'll be eating at expensive restaurants with my growing up bestie, so I have no friggin' clue there. *lol*

My goal? Control what I can, make the smart choices, and then let go. Plus, I need, more than before, to make sure I get every single workout in.

That being said - I doubt I'll have as much success as I did this week next week. *sigh* Makes me a little sad, but I won't let it keep me from enjoying my time with friends. This is life. I have to enjoy it - even if traveling leads to weight loss for me every single time.

Okay, y'all. That's all I got. Recovering from this weekend. Gotta get some work done, walk my 1.5 miles at lunch, and then go home and make dinner and do 30DS before bed. Gonna be a busy day. Also trying to spend the next few days catching up on laundry and getting it folded and put away because I'll have to pack and be ready to go after Ethan's eye doc appointment on Friday. Check-in is at 4pm.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SARAWALKS 1/10/2012 9:02PM

    Happy belated birthday and this weekend will make up for last! Have a fabulous time! emoticon

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JEREMY723 1/9/2012 8:08PM

    I've read a few blogs in a row and you're the second to make Brown Sugar Chicken. Was it a featured recipe or something? Other SparkFriend liked it. I just mentioned it to my wife, she made a face. I'm fine to pass on it:)

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ERIN1128 1/9/2012 2:37PM

    Happy birthday, a little late! Your upcoming weekend plans sound fabulous, maybe you should consider that your bday celebration. :-) Hang in there!

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KKINNEA 1/9/2012 12:09PM

    Gah, I knew I forgot something on Sunday - happy belated birthday!!!

Man, it sucks when you use your calories on a special meal and then it isn't good.

I think you need to do virtual birthday this week - get your week 3 plan set up, then do everything in moderation like you have planned above. The place you and your friend are going to looks great - hope you have a lot of fun!

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX10 1/9/2012 10:47AM

    emoticon emoticonYou are doing great.

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LILY_SPARK 1/9/2012 10:45AM

    You're doing so well, continuing planning. I need to plan better!

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Nearing the End of Week 1

Friday, January 06, 2012

So here it is, Friday (finally!) of Week 1. How are things going so far?

* I've made every meal on my list so far. I think tonight may end up being leftover night because my fridge is PACKED to the gills with good yummy foods!

* I've gotten in 3 out of 3 of my scheduled workouts. :) I can feel the motivation building. I'm actually excited to go to the gym tonight and knock out 30 minutes of my Nike Training Camp circuit program. (Added bonus? No machines required...just a mat, a medicine ball, dumbbells and a corner somewhere. :) )

* I've kickstarted my motivation again. I've been collecting gold stars for days doing what I say I'm going to do, and that always builds my confidence and motivation to continue. I no longer cringe when someone asks how much I've lost...I proudly tell them.

* The scale is taking TEENY steps down. I know I'm hitting a good stride when it does this. For me, it means I'm being consistent. Now this morning I had a big downward plunge, but I know to probably expect another upward swing tomorrow back to right around 306 where I've been hovering (ticking off a couple ounces each day).

* I've been drinking my water consistently AND taking my supplements. I do think they might be helping. I feel better already and my back is hurting much less (even with some Zumba I've been doing at home with the Kinect!).

* I've been saying no to food when I'm not hungry, and am finding it easier to do so. It's amazing what the right mindset and some built up self-confidence from following through on your plans can do.

So, I'd say it's going pretty well.

Review of the meals for the week?

Brown Sugar Chicken? YUCK! TOO SWEET! (who would've thought I'd ever say that?)

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie? YUM! A few minor tweaks (less liquid, add peas and maybe onions, and a dash or two of salt and pepper) and we'll be set with this one. Ethan even asked for seconds!!

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs? Pretty good. I'd make it again. It isn't the best ever, but it's pretty quick and easy. I'm thinking of making a bunch of meatballs in advance for these meals and freezing my own bags of them so I already have them on-hand. Then it's just toss in the crock and let it cook. (The boys have already requested another round of Spaghetti and Meatballs. I have a few minor tweaks to do on the meatballs because Ethan noticed the switch from Ground Chuck to Ground Turkey. It may be in the way I'm packing them as ground turkey tends to get more dense than ground chuck. Or maybe I'll just make them with ground sirloin and keep the beef texture that he likes.)

I doubt I'll get my fried tofu, honestly. Haven't made it to Kroger here in the city yet as I've had short lunches all week. I'll go next week though...there are a few other things I'd like to get there as well.

This weekend is my birthday weekend, so that means I'm planning on crazy-Esther-flavored fun. Tomorrow I run/walk (depending on how I feel) my 3.0 miles to end out my 30th year. (I would love to then to a 5k or 3.1 miles the next day *smirk* but I don't think it's wise since I'm just getting back into this again. Do NOT want to reinjure myself!) I'll be making Logan's requested "Unstuffed" Cabbage Rolls (found another recipe for it too - turned into a casserole! - which I might try. (Sorry, but getting the leaves off the cabbage whole was impossible so I created my own dish the last time I set out to make stuffed cabbage rolls. I'll leave the cabbage rolls to the experts - my BFF's family and church! :) ) I'll also need to pick up my cake by noon. I ordered a vegan chocolate cake with vegan buttercream icing. I hope it's good! (I seriously doubt she'd screw this up...everything she makes is AMAZING and this isn't her first vegan cake...her friend has a son who has dietary issues so she makes him vegan cakes and cupcakes.) We're toying with the idea of going to see some comedy tomorrow night, but I have to work that out with Hubs tonight when I get home.

Then Sunday is the big day...and I'll get my gifts and my big fat cheeseburger. Then? I don't know. Movie maybe. Hiking? Tennis or basketball at the park? If it ends up being nice like it's supposed to be, I want to spend the day outside. But I also kinda want to see a movie. *lol* (I have a Film minor for a reason! ;) )

You know, I thought I'd be super stressed about turning 31, but I don't feel that way at all. In fact, I'm stoked! Here's to another year of making myself better than I've ever been! I cannot wait! Watch out world, here comes a kick@$$, hardcore, take-no-prisoners, but loving and caring and thoughtful 31 year old woman! (Did anyone else feel like at 31 they finally "got" it? Like they finally understood that they didn't have to fit some ideal mold of who they should be and they could be both kick@$$ and hardcore AND loving and thoughtful? It's like I'm finally sorting out what I want from life, demanding that from those who claim to love me, and loving myself enough to let go of those that can't give that to me.) Whatever, I'm probably just babbling, but I can't say that I've ever been THIS excited about a birthday...except maybe like 16 or something. *shrug*

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WISHICOULDFLY 1/8/2012 10:26AM

    Hope your Birthday is filled with love, laughter and FUN! Happy Birthday! emoticon

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OVERHAULING-ME 1/7/2012 9:16PM

    Enjoy your Birthday weekend! emoticon
Wow, loved your post but now I want all your recipes and find out more about the Nike circuit.
Congrats to you for all you have accomplised! You should be proud!


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SEEHOLZ 1/7/2012 9:15PM

    Happy Birthday Esther!

This blog made me smile, because I can just feel your motivation jumping at me from the page!


Btw, something about being in my 30's made me feel more calm :-)

Comment edited on: 1/7/2012 9:16:46 PM

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35ANGELS 1/7/2012 11:06AM

    Happy Birthday! emoticon emoticon Hope you enjoy your burger more than I enjoyed mine....made me not worth it. lol

What is the Nike training camp? sounds good if you can do it from home.

Good luck and have fun on your bday!

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CHICAT63 1/7/2012 7:03AM

    Happy Birthday ! Have a great weekend, enjoy. You had a great week with your cooking and will look forward to the review of the vegan chocolate cake:).

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-POOKIE- 1/7/2012 3:01AM


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SHEILA1505 1/7/2012 12:35AM

    Happy birthday!
30s were great :)) but 40s were even better :D

Hugs - have a wonderful weekend!!

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ROCKINFOX 1/6/2012 5:21PM

    Happy early 31st birthday!!! Sounds like you conquered this week.

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BLACK-PRINCESS 1/6/2012 5:07PM

    emoticon happy birthday

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    Happy Happy Birthday!! emoticon

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Gold stars for you!!

Vegan cake sounds yummy! I've been wanting to attempt one of these myself =)

and to answer your question,
Did anyone else feel like at 31 they finally "got" it? Like they finally understood that they didn't have to fit some ideal mold of who they should be and they could be both kick@$$ and hardcore AND loving and thoughtful?
YES, I'm about to turn 35 and it wasnt until I reached 31 that I even started figuring anything out and each year since I've learned a little more truths about myself and who I am or who I'm wanting to be. (not quite how I wanted to say that but its the way it came out lol)

Happy Birthday and enjoy every minute of it!!

Comment edited on: 1/6/2012 5:02:56 PM

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ATROTTIER 1/6/2012 4:51PM

    Happy Birthday!!! Enjoy your funtastic weekend, you are doing great and you are seriously motivating me to get ready for my big day back on Monday - my big "restart" day back into Spark and my life!

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ERIN1128 1/6/2012 4:25PM

    Ah, you're so young! (I'll turn 45 this year). Enjoy your 30s, they're great. Glad you've had a good week!

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HEALTH-E-CLARE 1/6/2012 3:54PM

    Congrats on sticking to the plan, and glad it showing up on the scale (or leaving it). Those ounces will lead to pounds lost.

Enjoy your 3.0 miles... Love that idea. I might have to steal that on my birthday

Happy Pre-Birthday

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BECKYB73 1/6/2012 2:49PM

    It makes me so very happy to see that you are NOT wasting your 30s!!! (I did and I'm trying to make these last 2 years of them count!!!)

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HARMONYBLUE 1/6/2012 2:48PM

    Happy Birthday! Can't wait to hear how it turns out (especially that vegan chocolate cake). I love vegan baking but haven't quite nailed a perfect vegan icing yet.

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KKINNEA 1/6/2012 2:41PM

    Yes, the 30s seem to be the time of figuring things out for sure. Glad to hear the pain is subsiding - it would be cool if you were able to do your 3 miles with running! You are just rocking 2012 already!

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ERINBEAR1876 1/6/2012 2:40PM

    I love your attitude and your positivity about your birthday and with all you are doing :o} You are doing amazing!!! And you make my tummy growl with your slow cooker magic!

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Become a Skilled Motivation Farmer

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

I've been thinking a lot about motivation lately, mostly because mine is finally increasing again. We've all heard it before - motivation is not magic. Motivation must be built or grown. I was thinking about this today, and about how much growing motivation is like growing crops.

Analogies using farming have been used in so many ways (just pick up any version of the bible), because it's something most people understand. We understand that you must plant the seed, water it regularly, weed it, and then, and only then, can we collect (harvest) the fruits (or veggies) of our labor. Motivation is a lot like that.

I stumbled upon a Thinkquest article which discusses the growing of crops, which resonated with me. (Source link at the end of this blog.)

"People have been growing crops all through history. As people traveled from one continent to another, they took seeds with them so that they could grow food in their new country. Early settlers knew that they needed to be able to grow their own food if they wanted to live."

Like settlers knowing they need to grow their own food to survive, all of us Healthy Lifestyle Farmers need to realize that we have to grow our own motivation if we hope to stick it out past those first "resolution" stages of wanting to lose weight, get toned, or just get healthy. Very rarely do we stumble upon a random tree with fruit already planted, and never does it continue to bloom and blossom into a fruit that provides us with healthy fruit unless we nurture it properly.

I also realized after my move to WV that I had to take my "seeds" of motivation with me when I move. Even if it's just a small move - a new job, a new child, a change of plans. Every time something changes, from small changes to big ones, from work hours to gym hours, even the weather, we have to learn to take those seeds of motivation with us. Keep them in your pocket so you can carry them with you wherever you go.

"Today, farmers know much more about growing crops than they did then. Different crops are grown so that the farmer will get larger fruit or larger seeds. There is a lot of science in agriculture today."

There's also a lot of science behind weight loss today. The diet and health and fitness industry is one of the largest (if not the largest) mostly because they believe they can sell their magic beans to the unsuspecting. But we have to know the science of the thing to understand what really works. Calories in - calories burned; create a deficit and you'll lose weight. Most times it's just as simple as that. It doesn't matter if you're burning calories in a gym, with workout DVDs, running, walking, dancing. It really doesn't matter how it's done, as long as there is a calorie burn that helps create a deficit. And we also know that weight loss can happen without exercise if we simply create a calorie deficit. It's a science. We have to understand the science of the thing to make it work. And the more we understand, the better crops we can grow. Add in ST and you'll get a toner body than with just diet alone = bigger crop (sorta). Work in regular bursts of motivation like surfing the web for motivational pictures, doing motivational exercises, trying new things that boost your self-confidence and you'll be building a larger seed for the next time you need to plant that crop.

"Growing a better grain, fruit or vegetable means that the farmer needs to know: 1. What kind of plant will grow well in their soil, 2. How to get the soil ready for planting, 3. How to grow, harvest and store the crop, 4. How to get rid of weeds and crop pests, and 5. How to sell it once it's been grown."

1. What kind of plant will grow well in your soil?
This is different for everyone. What gets you motivated? For some people, it's hours in the gym and the feeling of sweat dripping from their forehead and down their backs. For others, it's the success stories of others who have similar experiences. Still others find theirs in motivational blogs, posters, pictures, etc. Some people even get a surge or rush of motivation from trying new things. Know what your trigger motivation is. What kind of motivation grows well for you and how can you make sure you have an unlimited supply of the seed or know where to get it.

2. How do you get the soil ready for planting?
Of course, like farming, this will depend on the type of seed you're planting. You might need to research articles for how to do the new thing you're trying out. You might need to sign up for lessons or a class. You might need group exercise classes or a new home workout DVD. You might need to create a vision wall or collect a virtual folder of all the motivational posters and pictures you've collected (my background on my computer at work changes every 30 minutes with a new motivational picture from my folder). You might need to set out a plan, create a workout calendar and buy some glittery stickers. Know what tools you'll need to get yourself ready to develop this new batch of motivation you're going to grow.

3. Know how to grow, harvest and store your crop.
Again, it will depend on what you're using. Use folders on your computer, create a Pinterest pinboard with all the motivational pictures, write a blog that journals your goals for the month, sign up for a race that's a few months off, sign up for a group class or personal instruction and keep the numbers/sites for where you found the information for that class/group/race so you can go back and do it again whenever you need to.

You also need to know how to grow your crop. Keep going to classes? Take one class and then practice at home once or twice a week before scheduling another? Keep collecting those motivational posters? How is your motivation going to grow. Here's a little hint - it grows from continual attention. Just like crops, you have to continually water your motivation. Some studies have even suggested that talking nicely to your plants can help them grow - why not try talking motivationally to yourself? Continual attention to your crop, your motivation, and continual action that backs it up helps your motivation grow. Create a streak of workouts, of healthy eating days, of days taking supplements and getting all your water in. Continual action, continual attention = growth. Every day you'll feel stronger, more motivated to do it again. Your motivation will grow.

And then you have to know how to harvest your crop. This one's a toughy. PRed your race? Now what? How many blogs have I seen like this over the past year plus? First of all - celebrate!! Throw a party! Do a dance! Write a WHOO-HOO blog! Collect pictures from that day and tape them up on the fridge. Tell everyone you know. Wear your medal around town and get those silly questions on purpose, just so you can answer them. It's time to celebrate what you've done. Whether it was a PR, or the reaching of a goal, know how to celebrate that - even have rewards in mind for when you reach that point. Even if your crop didn't grow as large as you wanted it to, you got some nourishment from it, so celebrate it somehow.

The key is knowing how to celebrate that victory...and then plant another seed. Whether it's signing up for another race or doing something different, you should have already stored those seeds up so you should know by now how to get back to them and plant another. Don't wait. Motivation doesn't grow on it's own! Get another seed in the soil, quick!

4. How do we get rid of weed and crop pests?
That negative comment. That sidelong judgmental look. Those nasty words we feed ourselves about "can't" and "don't want to". Those are weeds. They're the crop pests that kill our motivation - strangle it and destroy all the hard work and time and energy we put into it. Know what your pests and weeds are, and pluck them or spritz them with your own variety of pest-be-gone as soon as you see them! Give yourself a pep talk. Rewater your plant with more motivational juice and show it some love. Don't let your motivation be strangled by a single "bad move". Your crop can overcome a bad storm if you just know how to take care of it. Cover it when it frosts, water it at the right times so as to not burn it in the sun, and get rid of all the nay-sayers so they can nay-ruin your motivation!

5. How do you sell it once it's been grown?
How do we pass our motivation on to others once we've harvested it? Spark is great for this! Post an "I DID IT!" blog about your harvesting experience. A goal met, an obstacle overcome, a PR - whatever it is, sell it to the masses. You won't get any money back, but they might just provide you with the seeds you need to grow your next batch of motivation. Kind words, support and encouragement - all great tools for growing a great motivational crop! Soak it up, till the soil and get ready for the next planting.

Finally, and most importantly:
"Crops depend on water. A good farmer grows crops that use the water that is available. Crops might use a combination of rainfall and irrigation. A farmer wouldn’t grow a crop that needed tons of water in a place where it never rains. He wouldn’t plant a crop that needs to be drier on land that is marshy or doesn’t drain rainwater well."

It's all right there. Don't depend on what others do - do what you do, what you can do with the resources you're provided. A farmer in a dry climate wouldn't continually plant a crop that needed tons of water every single day 15 miles from his house with no car and then wonder why it doesn't grow and just keep planting it again. A crop like that is going to require an extreme amount of attention. Countless trips with the watering can. Who could ever keep up that kind of attention without falling apart (or at least having the rest of their lives crumble)? It's just silly! Plant the best crop for your area!

For example, I would *love* to be able to swim all the time. I love swimming. I'm good at it. And it burns great calories and I can do it for long periods of time without even realizing I've been at it so long. If I could, I'd swim every day. But I live in an area that doesn't have the resources for that. We have one indoor pool that I know of nearby, at the senior center, and my work hours and the pool hours don't mesh. Now I could sign up to do it and take off a lot of time from work, but then my work life would suffer. Or I could sign up in a different town, but then my family life will suffer because I'll be spending so much time driving to the pool so far away that I'd never be home to see them. I have to work with what I have. I have countless hills I can climb, wide open roads, a gym with just enough to get me by - so I'm going to grow a motivational crop that works well in THAT climate. (And then get to the lake as much as possible in the summer! *lol*)

I'm not saying it couldn't be done to devote yourself to something that requires that kind of commitment, but that it has a tendancy to burn out (or you do) because it's hard to keep that up for so long. Rely, instead, on something that can be more easily adapted and grown in your environment. Can't afford the gym? Buy a bunch of workout DVDs at home or find a great walking/running trail nearby. Adapt workouts to the privacy of your yard, your living room. Find great state parks with hiking trails - they're free! Go to your kids' school in the off hours and play on the equipment there - basketball hoops, tennis courts. Do what works for you, for your lifestyle, where you live, and with what you like to do and what keeps your crop growing.

So now that it's January 4th, and many of us are already starting to reconsider our New Year's Resolutions we promised we wouldn't make this year, but did anyhow, I have to ask you -- How are you growing your crop? Did you plant it well? Did you plant the right type? Are you watering it daily? Do you know what kind of "plant food" it needs? What temperature/type of water it needs? How about pests? Do you know what to expect? What are your negative triggers? How do you plan on shooing them away when they arrive? And have you begun thinking about how you will store your seeds for the next crop? Motivation doesn't last forever. It can burn fast and bright, but it has to be harvested and then replanted. Sow and reap, sow and reap constantly. Don't rely upon moldy seeds. Invest in new ones! Start getting to know your soil. Try new things - figure out the science of how your crop works in the soil you've got, and then continually attend to it to help it grow and be ready for the next sowing season.

I'm building my motivational quotes and pictures folder. I'm sticking to each workout because it helps grow my confidence and, thus, my motivation. And when this crop is ready to harvest, I'm going to have to be ready to plant again. The better I get at this cycle (and I do firmly believe it is a cycle), the easier it will be to keep this up for life. Constantly trying to improve myself, do better, be better, and go after what I want.

How's your motivational crop doing today?
*hands you the water pail* Time to water it?

(Farming Source:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4EVERADONEGIRL 1/9/2012 4:31PM

    This is such an awesome analogy!!!! I'm ready to be a farmer! :-) Whoohooo!!!

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ALOFA0509 1/6/2012 2:19PM

This is probaly the best thing I've ever read here on Spark!!! Rock On Sista emoticon

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BAYBELIEVER 1/4/2012 6:50PM

    Very good analogies! Magic beans. I love it!

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BLACK-PRINCESS 1/4/2012 1:57PM

    emoticon blog

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    Great blog! I have to surround myself in motivation 24/7 or it will slowly dwindle and its best to keep the motivation high when you're already motivated. I really like how you incorporated the garden theme in growing your motivation and everything you pointed out is right on target!
Success in 2012! emoticon

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MIQUEY73 1/4/2012 12:50PM

    LOVE this! Thank you for putting it in a way that really clicks with me. emoticon

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ERIN1128 1/4/2012 12:06PM

    Love this! I had to laugh at the "Jan. 4th and already starting to reconsider," because it was soooo hard to get up and exercise this morning!

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ALYSSA40 1/4/2012 11:55AM

    I like it. If it works for you, run with it. For me, I found motivation in vlogs. I had never been one to put my face on anything but lately, I've been having a blast with recording me and not just my thoughts. It's actually helping me to stay focused on what I want- allowing me to see what I'm doing for myself. Good luck to you and keep up the great job. I like reading your work.

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