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Want to Write Good? Then pick up a pen and get started.

Friday, July 01, 2011

"The desire to write grows with writing."
-Desiderius Erasmus

I had been struggling with depression for months earlier in the year because of financial struggles, loss of identity, and who knows what else. I was in a deep hole and nothing was pulling me out. I should have turned to my old saving grace, writing, to help me through it (instead, I turned to eating). I've been writing stories and prose since I was 5, and writing has always been my escape. Now I hope not so much to escape through writing, but to share.

Writing was immensely therapeutic for me as a child, and my therapist at that time encouraged me to write to work through my trauma issues. But trying to write the standard journal or diary didn't seem to do the trick. Instead, I wrote stories. I filled notebooks with stories of being so many other characters. I had to become someone else to work through my depression and PTSD. I truly loved to write, and continued writing throughout college. I considered pursuing professional writing, but this seemed so "impractical." I did, however, take several writing classes, as I could not just give up my passion for writing. I took several creative writing classes, including poetry (I stunk), fiction writing (loved it!), and literary non-fiction (really really loved it!). I never liked the idea that my thoughts and feelings were being judged. In retrospect, I know it was not my thoughts and feelings that were being judged, but rather the way I was expressing them.

"Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable."
-Francis Bacon

We tend to focus a lot on our bodies and pushing our bodies to the limit throughout the process of losing weight. As I've mentioned before, changing my thinking has been a major goal of this journey. Writing helps challenge the mind and bring the barriers we perceive to the forefront, slashing them with the stroke of a pen. I have returned to writing with gusto, and I believe that this introspection will help not only with my weight, but with all other areas of my life. Writing digs into the parts of my brain that I never think about, allowing me to explore the depths of my conscious mind. This concept has been utilized for a long time in writing.

In my creative writing courses, a common exercise would be to just write continuously for 5-10 minutes. Just take out a piece of paper, start writing, and don't think about what you're writing. Don't worry about grammar, punctuation, or any of those other technicalities. Just put it out there. This is called free association writing. Sound familiar? Indeed, it is not very different from laying on a couch in a therapist's office and doing it out loud, except the paper and pen won't set you back $150 an hour.

I often found that the words poured onto the paper, writing themselves before I even knew what was being said. Even if you aren't looking to write a blog, journal, or anything else in particular, this technique may help you work through a nagging issue, which simple speech or thought may not be able to express.

Most of my blogs have started from free association writing. I might have a page or 2 of random crap, but there will be one sentence that stands out, something I didn't even realize was in my head. I am way too anal to just sit down and post a blog without doing some editing (unless it's just one about my day, then I will), but I am posting this blog as a first draft, unedited. It's going to bug the crap out of the perfectionist in me who would normally never let anyone read anything that wasn't a 5th or 6th or 14th draft that had been pored over for hours. Okay, I'm doing it. I'm not going to edit it. It's bothering me already.

"Proofread carefully to see if you any words out."
-Author Unknown

I feel naked posting something that I haven't spent a lot of time looking over, but it will be good for me. Part of working through our problems is identifying what makes us feel vulnerable and snuggling with it every once in a while. Sometimes it's good to just sit down and spit it out. It doesn't always have to be that good; it's the mere act that is the accomplishment.

Even if you think it makes no sense, write it down.

Even if you think it stinks beyond all get out, write it down.

Go do it. Just write. Uncover what your soul wants to release, because there is no rough draft to life.

"I'm writing an unauthorized autobiography."
-Steven Wright

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CANNIE50 7/13/2011 2:38PM

    BLogging has been an important part of my committment to SP and losing 50 lbs. I so relate to your words. I have been feasting on your blogs. You are most definitely a writer. Now, rather than continuing to post comment after comment, I am going to write a blog! Thanks for the inspiration.

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GEMINIAN1 7/2/2011 2:17PM

    I love that you love writing ... :-)
How true about it, *not* setting you back a buck? lol
That proofread quote ... emoticon
Good advice. Thank you.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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UTMIZ_2000 7/2/2011 7:52AM

    Very poignant. I am just finishing up a writing degree. For most of my adult life I would get this feeling that I was going to write something. All of a sudden the thought would just pop into my head. At first I dismissed it. But then, poof!, there it was again.

I told some friends one day. Them: "What are you going to write?" Me: "I don't know." Them: "Maybe you should start writing down ideas."

So now here I am a few years from retirement, finishing up a writing degree, and I still don't know what I am going to write, but the feeling is still there.

Keep writing. Some things you need to make time for. I think your identity is WRITER. That's your voice.

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HIKINGSD 7/2/2011 3:18AM

    This is so true. I used to write poems. At the time I didn't realize how much it helped me.

Thank you.

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    At rough patches in my life, I have found journaling to be profoundly helpful. Last year when I was having what I thought were panic attacks, writing about it was the only thing that kept me from going completely bonkers. So I know what you mean about how therapeutic writing can be!

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TOASTIE 7/1/2011 10:37AM

    wow - you really nailed the power of writing on the head.

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REBECCAMA 7/1/2011 10:23AM

  Your story sounds similar to mine. I have been writing since I was a child too, and like you I did not pursue it as a career because it seems "impractical". I didn't really want a career in journalism, although in hindsight maybe that wouldn't have been so bad. I have also taken classes, been part of writing groups, etc.. but now I'm married, have a kid, and a full-time job and it's hard to fit it in sometimes.

I also think a lot about "Identity", and some of my teachers have told me that I need to "find my voice". I have 3 different blogs, including my Spark one, and they are all written under different names and cover different things. Still, I do not write enough.

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SHOOPETTE 7/1/2011 4:24AM

    I love writing too and miss it. I do also fear judgement but I like the idea of writing with characters instead of myself.
I might take up writing soon!

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GRAMMACATHY 7/1/2011 4:02AM

    Writing is sometimes more fun than watching a movie or reading a book. It is amazing what pops out of the brain when we are not trying to achieve anything but just the pleasure of writing.

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SYZYGY922 7/1/2011 2:03AM

    I used to write a lot, too. I always wanted to be a writer when I was a kid, but I backed away from it because of confidence issues and because I listened to people who told me that it wasn't a good career choice. I do regret that. Depression smothers my creativity. But I'm trying to be creative again. Your blogs are always well put together! I never write drafts of them or anything like that, at least not here! I always like reading yours :)

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Getting Ready to Stay the Same: Considering Maintenance While Losing

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them."
-Albert Einstein

Why the heck would I be blogging about weight maintenance? I am not anywhere near my goal weight, so I shouldn't have to worry about that right now, right? Weight maintenance is an afterthought, something that will take care of itself once I reach my goal weight. At that point, I should be so motivated by being thin that I will know what to do to prevent gaining the weight back. What's the saying, "Being thin is its own reward!"? Well, being thin is most certainly not its own reward, otherwise I wouldn't be here to lose weight again. There would be a much higher success rate of weight maintenance amongst all who lose weight if being thin were truly enough motivation in and of itself.

There is no glamor in maintaining weight. Now weight loss, that is sexy. A dash of willpower, a sprinkle of determination, and POOF, you're losing weight. The compliments abound, fueling your sheer determination to keep losing, to keep the comments coming. Can we really rely on that steel-cut determination every second of every day...forever? When the compliments dwindle down and you and everyone else are used to your new body...then what?

This time, I decided not to start losing weight until I had a plan for maintenance. You don't start a marathon without knowing where to find the start and finish lines, and you do a lot of preparation before race day. I've decided to take the same approach to weight loss. I spent months mentally preparing for weight loss and weight maintenance, preparing for the changes that were to come. I did not set a day to start losing weight--I let my soul tell me when it was ready. It took a lot of reflection on past weight loss to figure out how to make this time different.

It is fair to say that I had not been successful at weight maintenance before. I regained the 95 pounds I had lost on WeightWatchers several years ago; the weight crept back on over the past couple of years. Even though WeightWatchers really does give some good focus to weight maintenance, even during the weight loss process, I was not mentally prepared for the shock of being thin. When one of my uncles saw me for the first time since I had lost 95 pounds, he hugged me and said, "Much, MUCH better," as he patted me on the back. I should have said, "What the hell does that mean? I wasn't good during the previous 27 years?" How could he think that when I felt just as bad about myself as I did the day I walked into my first WeightWatchers meeting? My body had changed, but my mind was the same. I was certainly not much, MUCH better. That moment set off something inside of me, and I struggled to figure out why the "compliment" bothered me so much. Wasn't that why I lost weight? To be better than I was before?

I returned to school in 2008 to return to my psychology roots, and also wanted to study exercise science. I did a self-designed bachelor's degree combining psychology and kinesiology; essentially, I was studying exercise psychology. I wanted to study exercise motivation in weight loss and weight maintenance. Needless to say, there have not been many studies performed to assess exercise motivation in weight maintenance. Exercise psychology tends to focus either on elite athletes or overweight people, without much else in between. I was fortunate to work with some professors who thought I had good ideas, and they encouraged me to expand my horizons.

Most of the academic world that deals with health focuses on weight loss, seeming to forget that life often continues on after the weight is lost. Therein lies the problem of the forgotten group, the maintainers. Weight loss sells, and weight maintenance is just supposed to be something that will happen because you paid so dearly to get to that weight. The reality is, weight maintenance is hard. Damn hard. And weight maintenance has been neglected by the fields that should be addressing it, such as medicine, psychology, and public health. Weight maintenance seems to be brushed off as a passive process, when in fact, most people will proclaim that long-term maintenance is more difficult than losing. I think that having a plan for maintenance, and doing as much as possible to prepare to exist in a different body, are vital to long-term success.

Actively preparing to maintain weight loss is a part of my daily routine and is intertwined with the weight loss. In my eyes, they are the same journey, a continuation down the same road. Here are some of the things I work on to prepare for long-term maintenance:

*Take emotion out of the numbers.

Sure, some days I glance at the scale and growl, and sometimes I'm practically skipping to step on it, but I have worked very hard to detach my sense of self from the number on the scale. I have focused on taking emotion out of weight loss partially so that the scale doesn't trip me up, and because I can't rely on the constant thrill of losing to keep me going. We tend to get upset when the scale isn't doing what it is "supposed" to be doing. The scale isn't "supposed" to do anything. I step on it, it spits out a number, it has done its job. I have control over how that number makes me feel. It has helped me immensely to think of weekly weigh-ins as a mini-measurement, with my overall monthly net loss as the true measurement. I will continue weighing weekly once I am maintaining, but will only make adjustments to diet and exercise if the weight is creeping up over the course of an entire month (a "true gain").

It baffles and saddens me to see people feeling like they have failed because they are not staying within a pound or 2 of a particular weight they have in mind. I have found the scale to be so wacky that there can be up to a 7 pound difference from day to day. Not being bent on a specific number will help reduce stress, which in turn reduces the feeling of "failing," and reduces the chances of giving up.

*Find success in unlikely places.

AK_MILLER had congratulated me the other day on my 3-month plateau. Smart gal; she picked up that I wasn't beating myself up over cycling through the same 5 pounds for 3 months, but that I took it as a lesson in weight maintenance. A plateau usually brings on words of comfort, not celebration. I became frustrated enough with the up-and-down cycle that I finally "broke up" with the Same 5 Pounds and am ready to get back to weight loss, but I do not feel like I have "wasted" the past 3 months.

When I feel like everything is going wrong, I stop those thoughts and think hard about at least one thing that is going right. I mean, I woke up this morning, I'm still alive, so there has to be something positive buried in there. Even if there isn't a truly positive outcome to a situation, we always learn something. Embrace the experience, incorporate it into your being, and delve deep to find some meaning.

*Lift weights. Lift giant, heavy, un-girly weights.

Muscle mass is your friend. During the past 3 months of cycling up and down with the same 5 pounds, I still lost inches. Actually, I lost almost the same amount of inches as I had when I was losing 6-8 pounds a month. I can thank lifting heavy weights for this, and doing as much lower-body work as my right knee could tolerate.

This is where losing slowly comes in handy. Losing slowly allows for adjustments in muscle mass as body fat is lost. I will probably do at least 1 blog about all of the nerdrageous physiological reasons that strength training is vital to weight maintenance, and why strength training during weight loss primes the body to maintain weight loss.

*Track food--forever.

I know a lot of people aim to break free of having to track their food. But planning my food has been the key to my weight loss, and I know it will help with keepin' it real during maintenance. It takes five minutes out of my night to plan my food for the next day. I have taught myself that I can eat normally, so tracking should not be a big deal; not tracking would simply be me showing my denial of my eating patterns.

*Find at least one fitness-related hobby.

Having a fitness-related hobby helps fitness become a natural part of your daily life. Even if you think you won't enjoy a fitness-related hobby, give it a shot. From aerobics to Zumba, there are thousands of options and there's something right for everyone.

*Find at least one non-fitness-related hobby.

Health and fitness goals can be time-consuming, but I think a major part of having a rich life is having activities that bring out the best within ourselves. People tend to want to lose weight to make life better, so why not act on those, "Gee, someday I'd like to..." thoughts that drift through our minds?

What have you always wanted to try? Take the leap and go for it.

*Get new friends.

Being overweight is often accompanied by low self-esteem. I have tended to accept whomever shoved themselves in front of me, because hey, I should be so lucky that they're giving me the time of day, right?

Nah, not anymore.

I have been extremely fortunate in that most of my friends are awesome and supportive and they don't care what I weigh, but it took some work to get rid of people who were not good for me. I no longer allow toxic people into my life. I finally got to a point where I had enough self-respect to stop letting people treat me badly. If the friends you have don't love and respect you at whatever weight you happen to be, whether fat or thin, then they don't deserve you. They are shallow people. And it doesn't always have to be about weight--if they don't treat you right, they should be gone. Buh. Bye.

*Laugh. Seriously, laugh right now.

I love this quote from an unknown author: "The first thing you lose on a diet is your sense of humor." We allow ourselves to feel ecstatic when we lose, sad when we aren't losing, and anger when we have a gain. We tend to put on our game face, stopping only to smile when the scale shows a loss. During maintenance, are we doomed to feel mere relief when we step on the scale and have not gained, and angst if there is the slightest gain? Where's the humor?

I have a very crass and sarcastic sense of humor, and I couldn't exist without it. Finding the humor in an unfavorable situation is like seeing the sunshine through the crack in the wall in a dark room. You don't have to stay there; find something funny--damn funny--and break out into the sunny field.

I had to lose some fat in my head before I could get ready to lose--and keep off--the fat on my body. Weight maintenance takes very hard work, even before we're at our goal weight. The biggest thing I think we need to learn is that people are no "better" or "worse" because of their weight. We are who we are, at any weight, although the deep inward reflection that often accompanies weight loss may certainly make us radiate happiness.

"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
-Wayne Dyer

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GLORIAMAJDI 3/28/2013 2:42PM

    As someone who has lost it and gained it (more than once), I really appreciate the thoughts in this blog. I know that this time I am getting off the roller coaster and the ideas and thoughts here give me a lot of food for thought...excuse the pun!

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KELLYD2112 3/28/2013 10:22AM

    Great encourage for all of us contemplating maintenance yet again, but this time wiser and determined.

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PAM_COOPER 1/15/2013 1:14AM

    What a great article! You have the basic psychology of the process covered and skillfully put it into words and generously shared it with your readers. Thank you! I too, will be sharing this with my girls.

I just reached my goal weight of 135 in early December (actually I hit 133, but now teetering between 136 and 138). I totally agree with the plan for maintenance to be in your mind at the beginning. I lost 112 lbs. 20 years ago with no idea what "maintenance" meant. I just gradually started throwing in the butter again and eating ice cream, mac and cheese and other trigger foods again and within months I had regained the whole 112 lbs. I gave up --- for 20 years! I thought fat was a destiny, that I just was not capable of keeping it off. I reasoned it was easier on my body to just stay fat rather than yo yo.

But, this time I set out to lose weight 'for love' of my adult children who also have weight problems and the fact that menopause had added another 35 lbs. I suddenly realized that my poor example had affected my children's thinking, that they too thought they were destined to be fat. When my youngest daughter planned WLS because she thought there was no other way, I decided I would show her that it CAN be done without surgery, hoping she would join me on the journey. She still opted for the surgery and has done well. She and I have had great fun going shopping for clothes! However, my other daughter is now losing and has been my greatest cheerleader and I hers. She got my 'message'--that weight loss CAN happen w/o surgery.

As you indicated in your article, I think maintenance is going to take more dedication than merely losing. Losing is the easy part--there is a goal, a challenge, and lots of rewards. But, maintaining is the long haul commitment to be a stable, healthy weight after the 'glow' of weight loss and compliments subside.

Anyway, the maintenance plan has been in the making from the beginning, knowing that this is what went wrong 20 years ago. I also plan on logging my food for months or years to come. I may not always log online (I have most calories memorized)--but I will be logging and weighing in periodically. I also realize that the cooking methods and foods that helped me lose 140 lbs. should never be abandoned just because I am now thin. I still have trouble with trigger foods and trigger situations and will always need to be on guard to correct a slip up before I regain 20-40-100 pounds. It can happen quickly!

As far as friends, I have been fortunate to have friends who loved and accepted me as I was---except my always skinny husband who HATES fat people, especially when it was his wife. He has changed his attitude toward me and life has been much better at home. However, it does bother me that the person he was so mean to is the same person who he is now so nice to. I understand his feelings to an extent, but for many years I took extreme verbal abuse everyday and would resort to hiding much of my eating and just about everything else I did. Now, he says I am too thin and need to gain 20 lbs. (grrrr!) I think I am just right where I am and just need to tone up -- a lot. That is my second year goal which I am now working on.

I am determined to be that small percentage of people that keeps it off this time!

As far as fitness related habits/hobbies, I have a short workout routine 3 or 4 times a week and try to go hiking (or other similar activity) at least once a week. I've also got renewed energy and motivation to clean house more thoroughly and keep my yard and garden more manicured. I have always loved my garden, but after the last 35 lb. gain I just felt so bad physically and emotionally that I didn't even care if my flower beds had weeds or not. I've learned to keep the exercise expectations 'real' and reasonable so not to just abandon it (as I did 20 years ago when I walked and exercised 3-4 hours a day).

Anyway, thanks again for the words of wisdom. emoticon

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STARDUSTD 1/14/2013 6:45PM

  Speaking as someone TOTALLY unprepared for maintenance prior to beginning it, this blog is brilliant. It's just so spot on. I applaud your approach of emphasizing the maintenance mindset from the get-go, and thank you wholeheartedly for sharing.
Hope you don't mind my printing your blog for future reference.

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BECCAZEN7 1/13/2013 10:08PM

    I am bookmarking this for future use and rereading. Well said, well thought out. thanks. emoticon

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PHOENIX1949 1/13/2013 7:04PM


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CATMAGNET 1/13/2013 6:45PM

    Thank you for this post. I REALLY needed to read this today!

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NUFLIGHER 1/11/2013 11:08AM

    Keep up the great work!

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REDQT2 1/11/2013 8:35AM

    This is excellent and so what I need to read. Why can't people realize that losing weight has no effect on their personality, attitudes, and especially their false beliefs about the world... Excellent post! emoticon

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JSTETSER 1/11/2013 5:55AM

This is my one year anniversary of sparking. Read my blog!

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    An over the top awesome blog. You are SO smart!! Recently I reached maintenance with my body, but like you said, my head isn't quite there yet. It IS a shock to be thin again. There's such a huge psychological component to this journey. Also, you're's a never ending journey down the right path. It must continue on after the weight is lost. I see people & food differently in this new body and don't quite know what to make of it. Those I formerly thought were thin and in good shape I see with different eyes. Sometimes it's unsettling. I'm going to save your blog and refer back to it when necessary. All of these things I need to carefully digest and reflect upon. Thank you for writing it. emoticon emoticon

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MARCOSMASTER 1/10/2013 7:40PM

    Wow, great insights, blown away! Thanks emoticon

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MANDELOVICH 1/10/2013 6:59PM

    I love this blog. What great strategies you live by! Thank you for sharing!!

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MOBYCARP 1/10/2013 5:04PM

    What an incredibly well-reasoned blog! I'm glad I got pointed at it.

All the major points you describe resonate as true. I struggled with some, learned the hard way about others, and did still other naturally; but the important things are pretty much what you described.

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DOUBLEMME 1/10/2013 4:20PM

    Great blog!
From two friends you mentioned, I wish you:
“The only source of knowledge is experience”. (Albert Einstein)
“Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul”. (Wayne Dyer)


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ADRIENALINE 1/10/2013 3:53PM

    Awesome blog. You are brilliant to incorporate a maintenance process into your weight loss goals because the maintenance phase is the same as the weight loss phase with all of the emotional lows and none of the highs. I never had to go through what you have gone through but I have lost 34 lbs to get to my goal healthy weight maintained my new weight since 3/22/2012 so I know what I'm saying.

I still eat the same healthy diet that I implemented for weight loss and do more cardio than I ever did before and weigh myself every day (the scale goes up and down all the time) but I get to have great fattening desserts every so often and my best reward is to know that I still fit into my skinny jeans and look marvelous.

I know you will get there too. This blog is full of major truths!

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GETFIT2LIVE 1/10/2013 3:18PM

    TRUTH! I hope that SP sees your blog and features it; this is stuff that people need to read and think about wherever they are in the process of losing weight. If you don't start thinking about maintenance *from the beginning*, you're going to have a much harder time keeping the weight off.

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PRESBESS 1/10/2013 12:43PM

    Great blog!

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THOMS1 1/10/2013 10:59AM

    Love it! I really needed this today as I stepped on the scale this morning expecting a loss and I stayed the same. I will look at things very differently from now on.

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MPLSLINDA 1/10/2013 10:01AM

    Of all the blogs and articles I've read about weight loss and weight maintenance, THIS is the one I'm saving to my Evernote collection. From the beginning--the unsexy maintenance--to the end--losing the fat in your head before losing the fat on your body--you wrote the unvarnished TRUTH. Thank you for writing so clearly and eloquently about the most important and most ignored aspect of weight loss.

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SUSIEMT 1/10/2013 9:58AM

    Very well said! Thank you! A mini novel for sure but so worth the read!

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KANOE10 1/10/2013 9:52AM

    That is a great blog. You are losing the fat in your head and will succeed in maintenance!

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GREASE31 1/10/2013 9:45AM

    Hi CATS_MEOW_0911,

Thank you, you have put this very well. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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_LINDA 1/10/2013 9:40AM

    Very well said and thought out!!! You would make an excellent life coach if that is in your schooling plans.
Tracking does rule and I plan on doing it forever.
Great point on the weight lifting, something a lot of women ignore or do very little of.
I hope Spark puts this on a Daily Spark Blog. It should be, or as a permanent article would be even better!
Keep on Sparking!

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KTISFOCUSED 1/10/2013 9:38AM

    Perfect blog and you are just like me. I have been at a plateau since June (10 miles from goal) but I too am doing all the things you talked about and it is a good reminder that once I get there, I have the tools to stay there. Thanks for a wonderful reminder and good luck on getting to your goal. Once there, you WILL stay there.

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POINDEXTRA 1/10/2013 8:56AM

    Wow - amazing insights. And, it meshes perfectly with something I read recently on the Dr. Gourmet site. Someone did a study where one group was assigned to maintain their weight before losing, and the other group went straight to losing first. Guess what. The people who practiced maintaining first kept the weight off longer! Especially for people with a lot of weight to lose, any plateus should simply be considered practice toward the ultimate goal of a never-ending plateau.

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DDOORN 1/10/2013 8:53AM

    Why oh WHY do I lose track of some of the SMARTEST, SHARPEST members of my SparkFamily?!?! I think it's because there are SO MUCH BRILLIANCE among us! :-)

Such a joy to read, nodding my head to EVERYTHING you've written...especially your reaction: "What the hell does that mean? I wasn't good during the previous 27 years"...which sparked my inner critic which I'm looking to exorcise.

My therapist and I have developed a positive INJUNCTION to counter all those negative INJUNCTIONS that I've clobbered myself with over the years. It's simple, it may change, but right now it works. It's my mantra during workouts, when I wake up, when I go to sleep and any other time of day when I stop, clear my head with some deep breathing:

I am special as I am.

Such a joy to catch up with you again! Saving your words to review, remind, rekindle, re-SPARK!


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SANDICANE 1/10/2013 8:25AM

    You're right...there's nothing sexy about maintaining...and yet, it is the NUMBER ONE goal on my list this year. Having gained and lost LITERALLY HUNDREDS of pounds in my life...I want to stay the same.

Cheers to you and I'm subscribing too.

Bless us all on our journey.


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TORTISE110 1/10/2013 8:14AM

    You have nailed this! Well done. Maybe the heart of it is that losing weight is not living a full life. And we need to figure that out as we lose and as we maintain. You are inspiring to read! Thank you!!!

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DIANNEMT 1/10/2013 7:59AM

    Wow--I am supposed to be in maintenance mode--but then Christmas happened. So--this really speaks to me! I will say good-bye to this extra weight and then will be doing the really tough job of maintaining.... Thank you--I will come back to this again and again!

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BROOKLYN_BORN 1/10/2013 7:33AM

    Great blog! We agree on so many things already, but thanks for the heads up on heavier weights. That's one area I neglect.

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SLENDERELLA61 1/10/2013 6:32AM

    Great blog! You are so ready for success! Thanks for spelling out lots of things that were just kind of formed in my brain. I count you right on every point!! -Marsha

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ANNIEONLI 1/10/2013 6:29AM

    "There is no glamour in maintaining weight" - truer words could not have been said.

I am SO glad that you are thinking this way because it will make maintaining easier in the long run. Every point you made, is valid in maintaining for the long long haul. You have your plan and KNOW for a FACT that is it solid and a good one.


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MAREE1953 1/10/2013 4:44AM

    Great blog! I am so thankful to have found the At Goal/Maintaining team here at SP. Lots of great advice and inspiration. Best wishes for your journey, my friend.

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NEW-CAZ 1/10/2013 3:05AM

    FaNTASTIC BLOG emoticon

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/10/2013 2:13AM

    You have put much thought into this blog and for me it is wonderful. Your perspective has really helped me look at several things in a new way. Thank you so much, emoticon

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POPSY190 1/10/2013 2:05AM

    Terrific blog. I especially like the section where you find good aspects of plateauxing- it's so easy to give up at that point rather than treating it as a landing before the next flight of stairs. emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 1/9/2013 7:14PM

    Sheer brilliance! What a great blog!! Those of us at At Goal and Maintaining: Transition to Maintenance believe devoutly that the time to plan for maintenance is right at the start of the weight loss journey!! We'd love to see Spark focus on the MAIN thing: MAINtenance! Welcome!!

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NELLJONES 1/9/2013 10:38AM

    I have been maintaining for many years and I still track my food, just not on something as intricate as Spark's nutrition planner. It's true that the "motivation" from the outside disappears and we have to rely on whatever discipline we learned while losing. The scale doesn't bother me, it just tells me what my day should look like. The scale is a tool, an indicator, like a thermometer. You don't get up and look at the thermometer outside and freak out because it doesn't say what you expected or wanted. You dress accordingly. The scale is the same kind of indicator.

As for your uncle, you have no idea what he was referring to. When we were fat, we gave off unhappy or angry vibes all the time, daring people to say something. My son, the dietician, calls it "fat people syndrome". Because weight fills every thought every day, it feels like it fills everyone else's thoughts every day, too. It doesn't. I'll bet your uncle was referring to a job well done, or even the lifting of that invisible cloud all desperate people carry. A stranger? Yes, I'd be irritated, but someone who loves me? I'll bet he sees a change in you that you don't see in yourself yet.

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LITTLEBO 11/14/2012 7:50PM

    GREAT!!! I too started thinking about maintenance when I first started losing weight. And I jointed the maintenance team when I still had many pounds to lose. Gotta get that mentality early....

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TINAJANE76 11/14/2012 6:35PM

    Love this blog and so glad that you decided to join the 'At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance' team. The points you mention are things that many of us continue to work on as we continue to maintain. The earlier you start getting ready to do all of these things, the easier (but not easy per se!) things will be once you get down to goal.

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BOOKAPHILE 11/10/2012 9:59AM

    I also followed a link from Watermellen to find your blog. I think this is the first time I've ever taken notes while reading a blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences! I'm on my second trip through the same 30 pounds, and this blog post is tremendously encouraging to me.

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TRAVELGRRL 11/6/2012 12:56PM

    I found your blog because Watermellen mentioned it in HER blog today, and you've made some wonderful points. I'm 16 pounds from my goal but I'm on the THIRD TIME losing the same weight. I think finally I'm a bit smarter. Thanks so much for sharing what you've learned.

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46SHADOW 11/6/2012 8:16AM

    thank you.

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TOASTIE 7/1/2011 10:47AM

    Another great blog. A weight maintenance mentality helps me keep a focus on the long-term healthy choices I am making. Even if my outside isn't changing, on the inside, where it really counts, I have to believe that good things are going on. And I am reinforcing the switches I am making from bad to better habits. And honestly? Maintaining my weight takes a lot more work than gaining does. Sometimes it helps me to remember that I weigh a lot less than I could weigh if I wasn't maintaining! Each week that I maintain represents 1-2 pounds that I didn't gain!

Congratulations on maintaining!

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GEMINIAN1 7/1/2011 1:42AM

    How brilliant are you? Geeeezoman.

My heart goes out to you regarding the comments your Uncle made.
I mean, really? Really? Maybe the up side to it happening is that, you'll be prepared for it this time. We both know that someone is likely to say something "off" ;-) Hey, maybe we can start mustering up some sarcastic, or otherwise, reactions to off color comments right now ... lol.

Start studies in weight maintenance; I'll be your first client. You're right. I have read blogs on SP where people are shocked at the reactions they get ... and I'm not talking about the good ones.
I've had that happen too; I think it's "mandatory" ... lol.

I'm with you on the taking the emotions out of the scale; but, I just try to take the bad ones out. I still allow the happy ones in. I agree about the overall month thing too. I, personally, don't understand weighing yourself every day; for me it would be "a recipe for disaster". The most, I weight in, is once a week. Different things work for different people.

Woo-Hoo muscles!!! Burn, burn, burn at rest. Burn baby burn!
I plan on sticking with SP after "goal" (I haven't really decided what that means; I just know I'm *not* there; lol), Tracking, maybe update My Status that 'I Maintained' or something, joining Maintenance Teams, pay it forward.

I love that, 'lose fat in my head'; you're so funny.
I love the quotes ... again ... :-)
I loved this Blog *so* much. Thank you for sharing it.
You are awesome indeed my friend; awesome indeed.

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CANNIE50 6/30/2011 8:36PM

    Another SPfriend directed me to this blog and I am so grateful she did. You put so much work and thought and wisdom into this post and I really appreciate it. I have subscribed to your blog, and will be reading those you have posted in the past. I agree with what another commentor said - this should be a "most popular blog".

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LHLADY517 6/30/2011 6:47PM

    Excellent. Very important.

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HIKINGSD 6/30/2011 4:25PM

    Excellent blog!

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LEONALIONESS 6/30/2011 3:53PM

    Agree with all this except tracking food forever. I, personally, can't do it without it being incredibly, maddeningly triggering. It makes my EDNOS just go CRAZY and I have to take numbers out of the equation entirely. This also means I don't weigh myself anymore - choosing to go by my clothing, how I look and my measurements. So far, so good.

I've been trying the intuitive eating thing and eating as much unprocessed or lightly processed food as I can. I probably have eaten more the last month of not tracking than I did while I was tracking - I'm just eating the right things when I'm hungry (mostly, I still love sweets and still give in to "mouth hungries" rather than stomach hungries!) and I believe the little bit of weight I regained is gone. Or my body has just shifted it. I look leaner and feel leaner, my clothes fit better (except now, post giant salad and no-oil added, homemade Indian style veggies with brown rice... ooof fiber foodbaby) and I feel really good.

Everyone's mileage varies here. You, unlike me, seem to have a much MUCH healthier body image and relationship with food and weight. For the nonED/EDNOS amongst us, tracking can be just another bit of information we have to use for planning. I just can't do it anymore, personally, without it having me spin off into a bad headspace.

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Huh, so there are things to do other than stuffing my piehole?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Who knew? Why didn't someone tell me this sooner?

All right, so I was well aware of the fact that there were hobbies other than eating, but for most of my life, eating has been my favorite one. Well, maybe not my favorite, because your favorite hobby shouldn't cause you to break down in tears after your done; I'll say obsession instead. If I wasn't eating, I was thinking about food, planning my next binge. The second I felt the slightest pang of hunger, I began to panic. I thought about food all day long, all the time.

All. The. Time.

It isn't so much that I haven't been able to practice willpower before, but something has changed on a much more basic level over the few months. I have essentially been maintaining my weight within a 5-pound range over the past 3 months, and that's great, except for the fact that I'm not at my goal weight yet. I appreciated the experience of maintaining in that range because I was able to prove to myself that my appetite can be normal. On days when I wasn't as hungry, I ate less. On days when I wanted more food, I ate it.

I know, crazy talk.

When you are used to food consuming every thought, the very notion of thinking, "Eh,'s all right," feels extreme. I would spend my entire day at work thinking about what I would eat when I got home. My habit after coming home from work would be to plop on the couch and start eating frantically. Sometimes when it gets stressful at work, the thought still whispers through my brain, "Damn, I want to eat pizza...and chips...and M&Ms, and..."; I simply respond with, "No, Erin, you don't do that any more." Even sitting here typing about these things used to be enough to trigger a frenzy, but I'm getting ready to do, no thank you. I would be deluded to say I will never overeat or binge again, but now those thoughts may consume a few minutes on occasion, and not my every waking hour.

Now, I come home from work and either put in some SparkTime, do Pilates or yoga, or over the past couple of weeks, play my saxophone. These activities are not distractions; they are genuinely what I want to be doing. My body and mind actually crave things that are not food-related, and I feel like I've lost 100 pounds just by having the weight of food obsession lifted.

This lack of obsession has worked it's way into my daily life without me really realizing it. I met my dad, step mom, and brother for brunch this past Sunday. Normally, a buffet would set off a feeling of panic: "HOW am I going to eat all this food?" This time, I looked forward to seeing my family. When I got there, the first table I ventured to had the fruits and salad. I filled up a large plate with several fruits and a large serving of greens. My brother, nonchalantly mentioning the 12 mile run he did the day before, had a plate full of waffles, pastries, and pasta. He looked at my plate, shaking his head, "You came here and you're eating FRUIT?"

I shrugged. "I like fruit. I'm getting other stuff in a bit, but I really wanted this first." And it was true.

I proceeded to have an omelette, a small caramel roll, American fries, and a small waffle. Yes, I had a big meal, but I had planned for it. I enjoyed every bite in the moment, instead of thinking about what I was going to shovel in next. My brother and I shared a piece of chocolate cheesecake; I had two bites, and that is all my brain wanted. They tasted perfect, and my brain simply stopped me. No willpower, no arguing with myself.

Also, eating a large meal used to set off a day-long (or week, or month, or year) feeding frenzy. Now, when I have the occasional large meal, I feel satisfied. Odd, I used to feel almost MORE hungry after a large meal like that; the switch would be flipped, and there was no satiating the hunger.

I like my new relationship with food. Now I actually get not only full, but I feel satisfied. I believe I have finally learned the difference between the two. I still truly enjoy food, I still have treats (I have to have some chocolate every day), and I don't worry about being hungry. If I get hungry, I know I'll eat again; it took me an oddly long time to learn that. My food is now served without a side of neuroticism. And you know what? It tastes so much better.

"Are you eating it? Or is it eating you?"
-Larry Cohen

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GEMINIAN1 6/29/2011 1:07PM

    Beautifully said. I appreciated all of it.
Thanks for taking the time to write this and share it.

I've had points in my life where "one wrong move" turns into a downward spiral (perfectionism). I can also relate to spending time in "maintenance mode". I lost 37 pounds back in 2009 and didn't lose anymore until, the last week of, 2010. I've also had times in my life where I'm eating and it's like, what's next?

Hey Sweetie, if you can hold it together at an all-you-can-eat?
You just went from Pre-K ... to a doctorate; in my opinion.
Good for you.
I feel you've made a tremendous breakthrough; in *several* areas.
Cheers ... Eat To Live ... emoticon

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PASTAFARIAN 6/29/2011 11:10AM

    Some day, I hope to write something half as good as that.

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PAMELA6289 6/29/2011 10:29AM

  Oh Erin, I love your blog! This is my new favorite! So good to see you writing and know how you're doing. And, of course, I always learn tons from you! XOXO emoticon

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ZOOKEEPERMAMA 6/29/2011 12:41AM

    Fantastic! I totally get it. Feeding Frenzy is a good description of what happens to me sometimes. Just like you, I think "heck with it" and eat whatever I want whenever I want for however long I want. And that's why I'm carrying around nearly an extra person's worth of weight. Great job figuring yourself out! It's inspiring!

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ASIRUAM 6/28/2011 3:49PM

    Way to go! I completely understand! It is very hard to change the way you think about food. I'm trying everyday and it's still a struggle. It seems to get a little easier everyday. You are right, the more you spend time with activities you enjoy or need to do around the house.... the less time you spend contemplating the next meal. Congrats! Best wishes in your journey. Sounds like you're doing fantastic!


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OWENSAUNT1 6/28/2011 1:33PM

    This whole entry resonates for me. But, I have to say, the part about maintaining at a particular (non-goal) weight really made me think. I went through a period of three months where I was within 3 lbs. of the SAME NUMBER (208.8, 208.8, 208.8). I was trying to lose, I had just hit a plateau. So, then, I got frustrated and instead of changing the right things, I changed the wrong things. Went back to EATING THE WRONG THINGS, or too much of things. Anyway. I'm back to working at the weight loss now and I would LOVE to be back at that lower number that I struggled with all those days. You're right, there is ABSOLUTELY something to be said for maintenance, for knowing your boundaries. Keep up the good work.

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MSDHARMA 6/28/2011 11:25AM

    That's great that your perspective on food changed. That is a big deal and will help you on your journey.

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FREECANDY 6/28/2011 11:03AM

    The title made me laugh, and I swear I could relate to every line of this. Awesome blog!

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DR1939 6/28/2011 10:05AM


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AK_MILLER 6/28/2011 9:27AM

    I love this:

"I appreciated the experience of maintaining in that range because I was able to prove to myself that my appetite can be normal."

Don't ever underestimate the importance of weight management and maintenance!! I've done this to my own detriment and have finally come to accept my frequent plateaus as successes too, and boy was that hard. Although this whole journey isn't near over, I've been learning along the way how to maintain and not go back, and I think that lesson is even more important than some of the lessons we gain during the whole process losing.

How awesome are you maintaining that 5lb window over 3 months?!! That's so so so fantastic!! And when you reach your goal, you'll be armed with the skills and tools to maintain that goal because you've done it at all the stages along the way. You should be very proud of these last 3 months!! Great job!

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EMRANA 6/28/2011 9:19AM

  "I feel like I've lost 100 pounds just by having the weight of food obsession lifted."

That was my favorite part, but I loved the whole thing! I haven't gotten there 100% yet, but 95% is still really cool! So happy for you!

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MARVEEME 6/28/2011 7:54AM


You've got it now!

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NOMUFFINTOP3 6/28/2011 6:11AM


Good for you. It's not easy to replace those thoughts of food.
Sounds like you have a handle on it. Keep it up! emoticon

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    I just came to the same realization myself (though I am nowhere near my goal weight). There are so many hours in a day - why am I filling it with sedentary activities? Bravo, you!

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Dog Park Fun...and drama...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Today was a very active day--I walked a total of more than 2 hours, and overall it was a fun day. One of my co-workers came over and we went to the dog park near my house. I have an American Bulldog/Pit Bull mix named Dugan, and she has a Lab/??? mix named Raleigh. The dogs had never met before. Considering that my foster dog Kaleigh does her own thing and doesn't really interact with Dugan, he loves having another dog around who will play with him. Kaleigh has shown dog aggression before, so unfortunately, she is not able to go to the off-leash dog park.

Dugan and Raleigh got along great and ran themselves around in circles and frolicked in the water. Here's some pictures, 'cuz, come on, who doesn't like pictures of cute dogs?

Dugan loves the Mississippi River.

Boy, they weren't having any fun at all.

Dugan and his giant head

Unfortunately, a fairly aggressive unneutered dog showed up and started attacking Raleigh (my friend's dog). He was trying to dominate her and was being aggressive about it. When the owner finally did show up, she was actually confrontational when we told her what happened. We decided to leave, and the owner and her boyfriend followed us, yelling some kind of nonsensical blabber about how our dogs don't know how to behave. The dog once again chased after Raleigh, and this time they went out of sight and we heard Raleigh yowl. I yelled at them to get their dog and they were once again confrontational, saying, "You don't know the difference between playing and fighting; if he was fighting, you would know it!" (oh, what a great comfort.)

We leashed our dogs and walked quickly away. But of course I can't keep my yap shut, so I turned around and yelled, "It's people like you who make these dogs look bad," as we were walking away. The dog was an American Bulldog, and it really angers me to see irresponsible owners. While I was leashing Dugan, I said to the other dog that I know it's not his fault. I don't like dealing with bad owners at work, and I really hate seeing them in the real world. It seems to be such an insurmountable problem.

I have never had anything like this happen at the dog park before (although I have seen my fair share of fight injuries in the emergency clinic). I was so mad I was shaking afterwards. I don't like confrontations, especially one that could have ended by them leashing their dog (and an apology to my friend wouldn't have hurt). The "what-ifs?" kicked in and I seriously hope that dog did not end up injuring another dog today. In the end, it's the dog who would have to pay for the owner's stupidity. I am not mad at the dog at all, I'm sad for him.

Luckily, Dugan and Rolly had nearly 2 hours of running themselves ragged before that happened; now I have a napping, happy dog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ASIRUAM 7/2/2011 2:18PM

    I went with my brother to take his Great Dane to the dog park the other day and we had an interesting situation too. The Dane is 120 pounds of shyness. She basically puts her tale between her legs and rolls over if a dog comes near her. After she is there awhile, it gets much better. She just needs time to get comfortable. Some dog owner kept trying to pick her head up but was kind of aggressive about it. What gives him the right to be the next dog whisperer? I don't know. We ended up having to leave because this guy was really freaking the dog out. What is wrong with some people???!!!!!! emoticon

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BADTOFU 6/27/2011 10:43PM

    Man, I wish I could be that happy and carefree! To be a dog in the Ol' Mississippi...

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GEMINIAN1 6/27/2011 11:29AM

    Love the pictures.
They look so happy and loved. Too cute.
Sorry to hear about the horny out-of-control dog and the real problem ... the owners. It's a shame.

I hope you're having a drama free day my friend ... :-)
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KVARNLOV 6/27/2011 10:32AM

    That really disappoints me that the owner behaved that way. One thing that I really appreciate about you, is that, although you don't like confrontation, you take action and let people know about their inappropriate behavior, when it happens. People need to know.

Dugan looks delighted!! He is always cute in photos, but the joy in his eyes in these, makes them irresistible! emoticon

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EMRANA 6/27/2011 9:22AM

  Oh my goodness, I loved the photos! Dugan and Rolly are adorable sharing their stick!

I'm sorry about the drama part. I agree with you completely, it will be the dog who gets punished in the end if something happens. Some people are too ignorant.

Thanks for sharing all the cuteness with us! Kissies to Dugan!

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IFDEEVARUNS2 6/27/2011 8:21AM

    Looks like such fun. My dog is intimidated by other dogs, so dog parks haven't been a huge success. We need to give it another try.

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JESSIKA_56 6/27/2011 8:05AM

    Sounds like you work at a vet clinic. I do, too, and we too see our fair share of dogs who have been hurt at a dog park. It's a shame that some owners/dogs ruin the experience for others.

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SCHWINNER! 6/27/2011 7:20AM

    First, cuuuute pictures! My dog LOVES playing in the water too. I love the one of both dogs sharing a stick :) And that definitely is a big ol' pittie/staffie head! Love it!

I love the dog park, but there is almost ALWAYS drama, and it's 99% the fault of the owners. There's always one, and that's why we don't go as often as we'd like :( Not a whole lot you can do, unfortunately, because those people never think it's their fault. Hope you still have fun, and I especially hope you don't run into that guy again!

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    I feel your pain. Irresponsible pet owners are the worst - and it makes it so hard for that breed to be adopted. I think you were right to point out their error, but many folks today think being corrected gives them license for attitude.

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APED7969 6/27/2011 12:42AM

    Too bad you can't report them to someone. I hate stupid dog owners. My Mack is male dog aggressive due to only being castrated by me at the age of 7 and he is always on leash around other dogs. I hate when other dogs run up to him without the owners trying to catch them. I have visions of the leash breaking or the other dog trying to fight with him and it would become mine/his fault even though I keep him on leash. I would have had a very hard time keeping my mouth shut too!

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WILSON425 6/27/2011 12:16AM


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MILLISMA 6/26/2011 10:33PM

    So sad that there are so many "stupid" pet owners and, you're right, it's the pet that would end out suffering.
But, glad you did have a good 2 hours of fun and I love the pictures. They look like to good buddies!

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Hey can you come here for a quick second?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Uhhhhhh...yeah...look, we need to talk.

No no no, it's not bad! It's not anything bad. We just need to have a quick talk.

Look, Same 5 Pounds, we've been doing this dance for 3 months now. You leave, you come back, you leave, you come back...I...I just can't anymore...

Aww, c'mon, don't do that...naw, don't do always do that, get all mushy...

No no no, it's so not you, it's me!

Okay fine, it is you. You're just always...I dunno...THERE, ya know? Not just near me, but always ON me...ya know?

No, I don't want more time...I just feel so heavy and weighed down with you...

But that's just the problem, you never change, so I'm DONE.

I...I'm if you could be gone for good by the end of July, I think that would really be best.

No, I don't need to think about it, I want you gone.

Well, you need to deal with it and leave, because I will do whatever it takes to get rid of you..., I think it's best if we never see each other after you're gone, 'kay?

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    So did it stick to the agreement?

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    Those are great! Thank you for sharing.

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ERLYWA 7/31/2011 12:13PM

    Love it!!

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KVARNLOV 6/28/2011 12:09AM

    You rule.

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NELLLUCAS 6/27/2011 12:39PM


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ANATASHIKI 6/26/2011 4:45AM


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HIKINGSD 6/26/2011 3:01AM

    Cute :)

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GEMINIAN1 6/25/2011 11:40PM

That was great, on *so* many levels.
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FRAN0426 6/25/2011 9:33PM

    A wonderful blog, love the humor in it too. Hang in there you will free yourself of those 5.

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KRISKECK 6/25/2011 8:47PM

    Love it, I am ROTFL! I think I'm going to have that talk too!

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LADYNEST 6/25/2011 7:05PM

    This rocks!

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BECKYANNE1 6/25/2011 6:57PM

    Cute blog!

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ANDREA409 6/25/2011 3:38PM

    I had a smile on my face the entire time I read this. Thanks for making me giggle.
emoticon So long, 5 pounds. You are being kicked to the curb!

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EMRANA 6/25/2011 3:06PM

  That is brilliant! I loved it and I just read it out loud to my husband. He said it's cute.


Seriously, I was fighting with two pounds and I know exactly where you are coming from! You just expressed it better than I did.


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    emoticon Sometimes, you just have to break up for good! emoticon

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GSWINNIE 6/25/2011 2:53PM

    OMG I had to giggle. Great post.

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ARCHIMEDESII 6/25/2011 2:25PM

    Now that was just too cute !!!

It sounds like you and those five pounds are on a "lather, rinse, repeat" cycle that needs to be broken.


Comment edited on: 6/25/2011 2:25:35 PM

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SOUTHPONDCAMP 6/25/2011 2:08PM

    I literally laughed out loud. awesome post. buh...bye.... (channeling david spade...)

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ZOOKEEPERMAMA 6/25/2011 1:45PM

    Bwahahaha! Awesome! Great post. emoticon

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AHEALTHIERME44 6/25/2011 1:05PM

    Love it!

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