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Stronger Than Food!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'm thinking of that old Ajax commercial: Stronger Than DIRT!

Well this week began my "Season of Pain":

...all the "easy" pounds have been lost!

While following a very similar food plan this week...the same plan that brought me nearly a one-pound-a-day loss during my first two weeks, I did a mid-week weigh-in and EEK! I was a pound UP!

Now a calorie range of 1400-1600 doesn't seem all that luxurious, but I knew I was going to be SORELY disappointed if I didn't show a loss only three weeks into my efforts.

So I cozied up with my two buddies Hunger and Season-of-Pain and said "okay, ya wanna play hardball?" Tightened things up to around 1200 calories and VOILA!

Wrapped up the week with another 3 pound loss!

I'm already weighing less than my lowest weight of 2013...woo hoo! My clothes are giving me a pleasant pat on the back and fitting better.

Had a nice spinning session yesterday evening, met a young fellow who was going it pretty good on his bike and asked if he did road cycling which he said "a little bit." So I told him about our bike club and encouraged him to hit the road with us. He said he might take me up on it...hope he does! We need some younger folks onto whom we can pass the torch! :-)

My mp3 player served up some great tunes for me: Jackson Browne's solo acoustic version of "The Shape Of A Heart"...not a song with a pumped up beat, but a song with pumped up "heart" that keeps me going! Paul Simon's "That Was Your Mother" from his superb Graceland album with his South African band snap-crackin' through their Zydeco romp!

And what an apt finale song (sometimes the ESP of the shuffle setting is eerie good!): Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror"...turning up the collar...gonna make a change for once in my life...gonna make a CHANGE! YES!


An afterthought: you know, it really wasn't like I was playing "hardball" with my buddies...but playing "hardball" with MYSELF! My buddies continue to do me the favor of showing me what works vs. what doesn't. And for that I have nothing but gratitude!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FERRETLOVER1 1/31/2014 1:22PM

    Keep on doing what you are doing, Don and you will definitely see great results!

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BILL60 1/30/2014 7:56AM

    Way to go, my friend. You keep that up.

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PATRICIAAK 1/29/2014 9:21PM

    super WOW!!!
great determination and follow through!!!

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WATERMELLEN 1/29/2014 8:28PM

    It's great that the weight loss continues, Don, and as you know I'm big on the "hunger is not an emergency" mantra. But it's worth thinking about whether 1200 calories is too low for ya: and in that regard TINAJANE76 has a great blog today:


We'll just keep on keeping on, right??

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/29/2014 6:51PM

    Watch those calories man, if you are working out... 1200 sounds dangerously low for a dude to sustain! And make sure you are getting the protein to build muscle as part of the process, or at least not LOSE more muscle while dropping pounds.

You've got this. The goal is not JUST a number on the scale... you love your bike! emoticon

Speaking of loving the bike... got my trainer all set up and cycled 35 minutes to a DVD of Robbie Ventura riding a criterium in New Jersey. Not that I'll ever ride at those levels... just gotta get through my TRI. LOL!

Spark on! emoticon

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SMILINGEYES2 1/29/2014 6:26PM

    Love the Man in the Mirror. Staying the course during the last stages should leave maintenance as the next phase. Best wishes as you continue this journey.

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CHANGE4FIT 1/29/2014 5:25PM

    Very thoughtful blog as always. Do you ever listen to TED talks?
I listened to a couple of interesting ones this past week on weight. One was a neuroscientist the other a surgeon. If you have a smartphone, TED is a free app. Glad you are having success-you can do this!
PJ emoticon

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MOTHEPRO 1/29/2014 4:48PM

    emoticon emoticon

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CRAVINGLIFE 1/29/2014 3:06PM

    Yay! Way to go! Glad to read about your great results and for staying tough!

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CHELERY1 1/29/2014 1:31PM

    Congrats on your successes! Way to evaluate the situation and make it work for you. I love the title of your blog too. I need to remember that. I am stronger than food...
emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/29/2014 1:32:00 PM

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L*I*T*A* 1/29/2014 1:00PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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RACEWELLWON 1/29/2014 9:41AM

    emoticon emoticon Good for Don emoticon - One my Favorite Michael Songs - nice change - this week have been Spinning to Rockin Robin ! lol

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/29/2014 9:26AM

    Wow, mega-congrats!

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KANOE10 1/29/2014 8:51AM

    That is a wonderful success. You tackled the your buddies, Hunger and the Season-of-Pain..cut back even further on your calories...and then had success.

You are stronger than food and have a positive winning spirit! That is a great new low weight and it is very nice that your clothes fit you looser.

emoticon emoticon

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Food: Slowing Down and Savoring

Monday, January 27, 2014

I've been trying to focus on savoring food that I eat.

One of the best examples for me are natural almonds. I always keep them on hand in my car for snacking. However in the past I would mindlessly snack without limiting myself.

Now I count out my 24 almonds for my single ounce and eat each almond by itself, cracking open the almond between my teeth and savoring the creamy, smooth inner flat between the halves and chew each half separately, taking in the flavor and texture.

I've never seen myself make an ounce of almonds last so long! And my satisfaction with that single ounce is SO much greater!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KANOE10 1/28/2014 9:33AM

    I love almonds also and snack on them each day. I do have to count them as I will eat over my limit. Your advice to savor them and eat them slowly is a good reminder. I do love them.

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HIPPICHICK1 1/28/2014 7:40AM

    There's a lot to be said for slowing down!

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LUVLYLORELEI 1/28/2014 12:40AM

    I've done the same kind of thing, but not with almonds. It does make a difference. I know I should do it more often. Thank you for writing about this, it serves as a great reminder!

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STRIVERONE 1/28/2014 12:32AM

    It's so easy to eat almonds by the handful, but so much more satisfying to enjoy them one at a time. Still have to remind myself though.

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WATERMELLEN 1/27/2014 9:25PM

    Thanks for the detailed description of "how to savour": I'll be remembering this in my next almonds encounter. Greater satisfaction, fewer calories: sounds like a winning equation!!

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/27/2014 9:00PM

    LOVE doing that with my half ounce (hey, life's not fair, I'm a tiny woman, need fewer calories than a fit dude)... of almonds or walnuts. Amazing what a great thing it is to actually taste each bite.

Enjoy! emoticon

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_LINDA 1/27/2014 8:52PM

    emoticon That is an awesome achievement! Wish I could say the same :P

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PATRICIAAK 1/27/2014 4:50PM


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L*I*T*A* 1/27/2014 1:55PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DAISYBELL6 1/27/2014 11:03AM

    I do the exact same thing with almonds and it really works!


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RACEWELLWON 1/27/2014 10:16AM

    The are so tricky - good for you but are addicting - great job ! Thanks for stopping by - I'd rather X Country emoticon than shovel but your right its a big burn - Karen

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/27/2014 9:37AM

    Good job!

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From Driven to Driver!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I've noticed another change in my thinking since beginning my re-set two weeks ago.

First, a confession about a bad-old-habit I picked up along the way. Despite knowing logically that it is the easiest thing in the world to out-eat any workout, witness many long bike trips and events where I torch hundreds, perhaps THOUSANDS of calories yet still gain weight, I still carried that fallacy with me and allowed it to PROPEL me toward a workout compulsion where nary a day would pass without some intense cardio. Even knowing that it wouldn't compensate for the calories I consumed I would take on crazy thoughts about how if I didn't get this workout in I would balloon even WORSE than I might otherwise and hey, I tried to sell myself: maybe, just MAYBE I might pull it off and cancel all those unhealthy calories I ate!

Now that isn't necessarily all a bad thing: I've acquired a pretty rock solid habit and approach to exercise and for that I'm grateful.

However here is my latest morph: I've noticed during my workouts over the past two weeks an increasing sense of ease and calm. An absence of the element of desperation which would creep into past workouts which would sometimes compel me toward extending my limits and capabilities.

Instead, now when the right song comes along and I'm just inspired by the mood, words and what my body can do, I THEN push myself toward more intense efforts.

I'm finding that taking the desperation, the compulsion off the table leaves room for other healthier experiences:

---such as gratitude for what I've accomplished and a recognition of the good that has come from my old, less-than-healthy thinking.

---such as greater self-acceptance and appreciation for where I am on my journey, for what I've learned and have yet to learn.

---such as confidence in myself that I am acquiring such terrific self-knowledge about what works for me...and what DOESN'T!

Instead of feeling so DRIVEN, I am finding myself increasingly in the DRIVER'S seat, setting the course for my life and following Mark Twain's advice in one of my favorite quotes of all time:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Viva la SPARK!


ps...oh yeah...no drum roll needed as my food choices are locked in and continue to pay off: 3 more pounds down for a total of 13 pounds since beginning my re-set, averaging nearly a pound a day.

pps...additional thoughts summing up important changes in my core beliefs in response to WATERMELLEN's excellent latest FatLoser blog:


Here are a few of my changes in core beliefs:

Numbers are bad...numbers are GOOD

Tracking is bad...tracking is GOOD

Workout to burn those calories...workout to enjoy my body

Self-bashing...self-accepting, self-valuing

I can’t control my food choices…I am in charge of my food choices

Plus I have locked in a morning meditative pattern which includes other vital new "lessons" which I am planting for myself.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RAINBOWFALLS 1/27/2014 8:56AM

    Great lessons learned. You are making some awesome progress. emoticon

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HAKAPES 1/27/2014 3:40AM

    I also find tracking is so important.
Have you heard about the Quantified Self movement?
I consider myself to be part of it.
There are so many of us who track, and like it!

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LUVLYLORELEI 1/25/2014 11:47PM

    That's an important change in perspective. Sounds like you've found a peaceful approach that will serve you well. emoticon

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JUST_TRI_IT 1/25/2014 10:30AM

    That is a truly powerful shift.. in thinking and acting. That sense of calm is in itself a huge wind in the sails! I agree with you that being driven versus being in the driver's seat is a strong place to be now.

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ZELLAZM 1/25/2014 7:23AM

    Some big mindset changes - as important as the numbers on the scale!

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KANOE10 1/23/2014 8:03AM

    That was an excellent shift into the driver's seat from being driven to exercise. Now you can simply enjoy the exercise. That is great that your re-set is working and that you have lost 13 pounds. I think you have successful replaced your core beliefs with excellent positive thoughts.

Way to go, Spark Friend. Excellent blog.

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STRIVERONE 1/22/2014 11:53PM

    I know what you are talking about. There was a point when I committed to getting fit and staying that way. Reaching the point where I could be driven more by the moment and less by the goal was a struggle and I suppose I had to force myself to to do my workouts consistently. But it paid off. Now going for a run, hike, or bike ride is routine and something I look forward to every day.

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L*I*T*A* 1/22/2014 7:50PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GREENGENES 1/22/2014 7:50PM

    Wow. Very impressive numbers! Great to see the shift in attitude is working so well.

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/22/2014 7:41PM

    I am really tripping on the day 19 revelations that we've all been posting about growth in our individual core beliefs! emoticon Growth in personal development and health all 'round! emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 1/22/2014 5:34PM

    Wow! Excellent blog.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
Now I have an ear worm. "Driver's Seat" by Sniff and the Tears

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WATERMELLEN 1/22/2014 4:34PM

    Love to see YOU in the driver's seat. I'm so convinced that for me 80% ++ of weight loss/maintenance is the food tracking thing, and I injured myself permanently when I ran 10 km a day trying to out-exercise a crappy diet . . . Exercise, yeah: but not in a self-punitive manner.

Thanks for the generous shout-out.

It's terrific the way in which you are reframing those core beliefs.

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RACEWELLWON 1/22/2014 11:13AM

    Great blog - same here !

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CHANGE4FIT 1/22/2014 10:38AM

    BRAVO! Well said my friend-I am glad to hear your postive tone and read your perspective on assuming the "driver" role. Something we all need to spend more time pondering. Spark on!

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CRAVINGLIFE 1/22/2014 9:36AM

    I appreciate your words today! Keep up the progress, you are doing great!

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VALERIEMAHA 1/22/2014 9:16AM

    Such important insights and accompanying WELCOME rewards!!!

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DAISYBELL6 1/22/2014 8:57AM

    Fantastic blog. I hear exactly what you're saying about the rationalization of over exercising. Moderation is usually the key.

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/22/2014 8:51AM

    Yes, that's how I backslid last year. I was exercising like a Banshee and felt entitled to eat accordingly. Yikes!

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Killer Fact: 30-40 Percent of Health Care Spending in the U.S. Is Tied to Excess Sugar Consumption

Monday, January 20, 2014


This is an extremely sobering article filled with very eye-opening information such as:

“Basically, the U.S. healthcare system spends about $1 trillion per year (and possibly more) fighting the effects of excess sugar consumption.”

"American politics are organized to protect corporate interests that make voters and taxpayers sick, and there is no better example: in a candy bar or a bowl of healthy granola, sugar is the big stake in the heart of American health."

The article takes care to point out the political problem is non-partisan: BOTH sides of the aisle are more than willing to take money from Big Sugar corporations and their lobbyists.

“In 2009, (sugar) crop producers spent more than $20.5 million on federal lobbying.” ( “How Big Sugar Gets Its Way," The Florida Independent, Sept. 11, 2011) That is the tip of the iceberg. Sugar producers and related industries cumulatively spend billions through dark money channels in political campaigns and “independent” expenditure committees supporting their candidates at all levels of government: from the smallest fry in Florida counties, to the state capitols wherever sugar can be grown. ("Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012," Washington Post, 1/7/2014) Sugar money in American politics disappears through the figments of campaign finance law and filaments of law enforcement. The United States is that special snow flake fallen on a pile of white sugar, melted golden by corporations more powerful than people."

More information here about the science behind the dangers of sugar:


Now I usually take care to keep politics out of my blogs here at SparkPeople, however when it intersects with our health and wellness I think there is value in keeping the Big Picture in mind!

Not because I think we need to lament and shake our heads helplessly, but because the more we are aware of the powerful forces against which we swim, the more we can 1) get ANGRY about this and 2) take actions to counter such forces!

When I see people loading their grocery carts with soda and highly processed carbohydrates I don't judge them: I judge the corporate / political / media SYSTEM that masquerades underneath our supposed free-will and shapes our preferences toward such death & disability-inducing choices!

What actions? A couple I can think of right off the bat is as many of us do: vote with our consumer dollars and avoid buying sugar-laden products. But the more important step is to speak out to our political leaders.

European countries appear to be so much more adept in holding their political leaders responsible for taking actions that benefit the majority of people and hold their leaders to task if they stray from this to serve their own self-interests by allowing corporations to buying out politicians to the detriment of the health and well-being of the people.

Speak out against subsidies for unhealthy industries such as Big Sugar! Ask our leaders: Why can we not subsidize HEALTHY food development? There is precious little help afforded to those who grow our vegetables and fruits.

Make noise: we need to be heard and we need to let our leaders know that we 1) will NOT support them if they don't take active steps to promote our health and wellness but that they will 2) earn our steadfast support if they DO support our health and wellness!


Bonus link: The wonderful Michael Pollan shares his common sense thoughts on the paleo approach to food:


Bonus link #2: Great upbeat message in this song:

LIVE OUT LOUD! by Intervision


Let's all keep Rockin' the SPARK!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LPRUNWALK 1/21/2014 10:07AM

    Thanks for this excellent blog. We do need to make noise on this issue wherever and whenever we can. I tend to do this in one-on-one situations, talking about my own struggles with sugar and encouraging friends to join me in really trying to eliminate it as much as possible while getting used to the taste of food made with less sugar or none at all. Sugar has been such a destructive force in my life that I feel quite passionate about this. Your blog is an important reminder to take these conversations beyond the personal level and into the political realm where decisions about subsidies and support are being made. It is truly sickening to think about how politicians and Big Sugar have worked together to poison the food chain. Action can come from individuals making better choices in their own lives, but macro-level change is also needed in order to improve conditions for those who are not ready to change, feel they can't afford to (not true in most cases!!), or simply don't understand how they are hurting themselves (and their families) by continuing to eat large quantities of processed and sugar-laden food. I will look for opportunities to add my voice to this and thank you for the reminder.

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HIPPICHICK1 1/21/2014 9:37AM

    It's crazy, isn't it? I try very hard to spend ethically (as you mentioned..."voting with our consumer dollars") and talk a lot about food to other people, for example, where it's grown, how it's raised and why organic farms need to spend thousands on proving they are NOT using harmful chemicals on their crops while industrial farming can destroy an ecosystem with their use of chemicals and no one bats an eye at this very backwards rule. But I digress.
Yes, sugar is bad! We were talking about it last night. New research has come to light about sugar and gluten and how it affects the brain to the point of actually making us less intelligent.
Thanks for the link.

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WATERMELLEN 1/21/2014 8:34AM

    Here north of the border, too: absolutely.

How sweet it is? Not at all, not remotely.

And what a relief to see someone else putting forward a political position!! Thanks, Don.

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KANOE10 1/21/2014 8:32AM

    That was informative and excellent. I am right there with you. These sugar mega giant corporations are ruining our health with obesity. There is too much sugar in all of our refined foods. Taking action would be a good thing. Michael Pollan is great.


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CHANGE4FIT 1/20/2014 9:12PM

    emoticon Thanks for sharing and reminding us all that we have a voice in this on many levels.

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GREENGENES 1/20/2014 8:34PM

    Great stuff. You are absolutely right about the European culture and it is very obvious when you live there. I'd love to see a "wellness summit" with our politicians instead of the "prayer summit" they do.

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VALERIEMAHA 1/20/2014 8:32PM

    LIVE OUT LOUD! What a GREAT groove!!! Guess they're a Portland group. The words are excellent too. BTW, the "https://" has to go for the link to work.

And thanks for the important, intense information about how greed impacts our health and our responsibility to rein it in with our votes and actions.

As I said in sharing the Michael Pollan article on Facebook, "Thank you Michael Pollan! I never buy into the 'latest-and-greatest' designer diets, foods, herbs, nutrients, etc., preferring to do my homework, wait, and continue slow-but-sure with a formula that I know works (when I work it!)."

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PATRICIAAK 1/20/2014 7:22PM

    I agree

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FERRETLOVER1 1/20/2014 7:06PM

    emoticon blog!

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L*I*T*A* 1/20/2014 2:19PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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STRIVERONE 1/20/2014 1:43PM

This is a great blog entry. I'd like to copy it to a closed group Facebook page where I think it will be very helpful. Please message me if that's OK.

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JESPAH 1/20/2014 11:51AM

    Add to this the fact that extra weight in vehicles lowers gas mileage. It doesn't matter where that weight comes from - a sack of kitty litter in the trunk or extra human booty - gas mileage does not care.

Who do you think gets $$ when gasoline is overconsumed and becomes scarcer?

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/20/2014 11:36AM

    I agree. But I still think we have the choice as to whether or not to load our carts up with sugar products.

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RACEWELLWON 1/20/2014 11:35AM

    Don as a coder for years - I have seen the increase of revenue for the hospitals and physicians due to over consumption of sugar and processed food causing fatal illnesses , Hmmm ? Pig Pharma benefits too ! have you ever read any book By Ty Bollinger - good read - been an activist for a while now ! good blog - Karen

Comment edited on: 1/20/2014 11:36:54 AM

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JUST_TRI_IT 1/20/2014 11:27AM

    Action.... yes. Thank you for this sobering blog. As they often say.. follow the money and your action belongs at the source.

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/20/2014 11:16AM

    Good for you. Complaining is one thing. Taking action is the next level of courageous.

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Better Scale-a-tude!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Felt like I needed a mid-week boost so I jumped on the scale...and three more pounds bite the dust! Beginning to feel my clothes loosen a bit, too.

Yes, I know I won't always have that sort of pay-off, but here's a pay-off I'm planning to hold onto: using the scale as another friend in my journey!

Alongside with hunger, self-support (as opposed to self-bashing) & numbers my scale sidles up to join the powerhouse pack!

I used to play lots of games with the scale and weigh-ins...such as after a weekly weigh-in (yes, a sneaky under-handed method to sticking with only weekly weigh-ins!) I would relax my vigilance and look at the first few days of the week as my "coasting" days where I could "afford" to relax on my food choices. Now THAT'S how to keep the scale the ENEMY!

No longer!

I've been having some nervous thoughts about shifting my approach as the weight slows down but with the wisdom, knowledge and support of the At Goal & Maintenance team I know I'll come up with something that works a whole lot better than what I've done before.

Now: off to a BUSY Saturday of ST, Spinning and moving a ton of pellets for our stove!

Keep the SPARK!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHANGE4FIT 1/20/2014 9:08PM

    Enjoying reading about your 2014 success with the reset! I always find that the scale is my friend-it is honest with me whether I like it or not and helps guide me and encourage me in making consistent choices.

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GREENGENES 1/19/2014 9:01PM

    Way to go. Keep moving in the right direction.

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2WHEELER 1/19/2014 7:11PM

    Congratulations, Don. Keep up the great work. You'll find what works best for you. Good cycling weather ail be here soon.

I've played those scale "games" too. I changed my weigh in day from Mondays to Wednesdays so I could recover from the weekends. Now I try to weigh myself Friday morning and Monday morning. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. But at least I'm not scheduling my weigh-in to "buy" myself some time.

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STRIVERONE 1/19/2014 12:49AM

    In spite of all the advice to weigh only once a week, I find that I do best with a daily weigh in. I still play games with Monday morning which is what I call my official weigh-in.

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LUVLYLORELEI 1/19/2014 12:14AM

    Ah. Scale games. I've played them too. Mostly I would skip eating all day until I weighed in at my TOPS meeting at night, rush home and eat all the meals for the day in too short an order. Then I came to my senses one week and realized that if I eat about the same thing each weigh-in day, my weight should be no more or less affected by eating during the day. It's so much more peaceful to not have to run home and binge because I deprived myself.

I'm glad to hear the scales are no longer the enemy! You've reached the goal I would like to get to. I'm still working on that. I'm still trying to get the thing convinced that it should head in the downward direction number wise. Then it will be my friend. emoticon emoticon

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L*I*T*A* 1/18/2014 4:37PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FERRETLOVER1 1/18/2014 3:42PM

    I, too, have been guilty of relaxing my vigilance for a day or two (or three) after a weigh-in - especially when the weigh-in was great. I basically would undo all my hard work. No more of that!

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WATERMELLEN 1/18/2014 12:51PM

    Don, you are doing GREAT!! It's wonderful to feel your confidence and joy of accomplishment!

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_LINDA 1/18/2014 11:11AM

    emoticon emoticon
Wow! Great weight loss!
Maybe that's my problem too -how you described weekly weigh ins, which I am a fan of. That coasting until you get closer to it. Very interesting. Some calorie free food for thought!
Enjoy a healthy weekend!

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/18/2014 9:47AM

    You are an inspiration, for sure!

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KANOE10 1/18/2014 9:01AM

    Great job on losing those three pounds. I know you will figure out a way to make the scale your friend and a tool for maintenance. I am a daily weigher but am no longer scared of the results. I use them to keep me on track.

You are doing a great job of staying on track.


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RIDLEYRIDER 1/18/2014 8:49AM


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ONEKIDSMOM 1/18/2014 8:28AM

    Somebody here on Spark referred to the scale as "like a GPS"... it's not your judge, it's just another tool to tell you where you are. I have adopted that point of view with my scale, and it stops the emotional cycle of either relaxation OR judgment. emoticon

Good job!

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ZELLAZM 1/18/2014 8:25AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/18/2014 8:25:40 AM

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WDIPIM 1/18/2014 8:22AM

  great job

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ELRIDDICK 1/18/2014 8:19AM

  Thanks for sharing

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