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No Magic!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

(Most of you who are familiar with me have heard me wax on about these things before, but I thought I'd share for the benefit of the many newbies who've come on board and also for my OWN benefit as I mention at the end.)

There is no magic out there.

Everytime someone comes along and claims a certain product or a certain new diet is the be-all, end-all my first response is to be HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS and SKEPTICAL:

Um...if this works so well, don't you suppose the media would be blasting away from every radio station, magazine, tv show, etc about the WONDERS of this product? Wouldn't EVERYONE be doing this and MOST OF ALL:

Wouldn't obesity disappear off the face of the PLANET?!? There is NOBODY who would *volunteer* to be obese! Stigma against obesity is so great that people would rather be mentally ill or a criminal than to be obese!

There also is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to building a healthy lifestyle. We all have to find a path that works for ourself.

There are some general guidelines that work, in my opinion, for all. My go-to food guru is Michael Pollan and his Food Rules. EVERYTHING he's written is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but Food Rules is the most consise, to the point, plain English, common sense approach to eating ANYWHERE!

Here is a great article which describes the approach, which is basically:

Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.

Can you get any simpler? :-)

Some other corrolaries? Avoid highly processed foods. Avoid foods that come in a box. Avoid foods that have more than 5 ingredients or ingredients with names you cannot pronounce. Avoid foods that have been advertised. Avoid foods that your grandmother would not recognize as foods.

In other words get back to basics. Prepare your own food. Avoid commercially prepared ANYTHING.

Article link:


The other important aspect of food? Quantity! We can be making the HIGHEST QUALITY food choices...but if we eat too much? You won't lose weight and might yet gain as well! How do we monitor quanitity?

Use the SparkPeople Food Tracker!


I was slow to come around to the power of this tool (or other forms of logging / tracking my food), and am guilty of having fallen off the wagon this past holiday season and am paying the consequences now! Today, for the first time, I was OBSESSING with the food tracker in preparing for a meal I was having out with others at Red Lobster tonight. I cut way back on my food earlier in the day. Looked up Red Lobster recipes shared in the food tracker to get an idea how much "damage" they would contain. I knew enough to avoid those cheesey biscuits...highly processed carbie foods wake up my inner voracious carbie tiger that can NEVER be satisfied! I also knew I would not choose any deep fried or oopy-goopy cheesey main course. I settled on Seafood Stuffed Flounder, broccoli, tossed salad with balsamic vinaigrette and water with a lemon wedge. Later tonight I had a bowl of my 15 bean soup. All for a total of 737 calories! It was the first time I tracked a meal before I ate it! Makes it REAL TOUGH to backpedal and change one's mind once you've logged it into the tracker! AND it was delicious and I felt nicely "full" and satisfied afterward.

Another point, for those of us "food addicts:"

Learn your trigger foods. You know, the foods that are "radioactive" such that having one throws all restraint out the window and opens that bottomless pit inside that can NEVER be satisfied?

Be very mindful of these foods, respect their danger and take appropriate preventative steps. Initially I highly recommend removing them from your life. Why sabotage yourself? Over time we can attempt to build psychological muscle which can allow us to gradually reintroduce our trigger foods in a very careful, controlled manner. However I will say that is a risky proposition and I will also admit that I have not been successful in doing this. I have known others who have succeeded in their pursuits and my hat's off to them for being able to do this. I am not there yet and don't know if I can EVER allow my trigger foods into my life in a moderate way.

But who knows?

Sorry to go on and on...but I'm finding it helpful to ME TOO by reviewing for myself "what works" as a form of re-dedication to myself and living a SPARKED LIFE!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OUTDOORGIRL69 1/10/2011 10:34PM

    Don... That was a great Blog.

I am just getting time to look at all my SP friends Blogs and leaving comments. I have been very slow at responding lately. I have just had a lot on my mind lately that I have put into my Blogs.

Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration to me.

God Bless

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WATERMELLEN 1/8/2011 8:48AM

    Love this: "highly processed carbie foods wake up my inner voracious carbie tiger that can NEVER be satisfied". So true for me!!

And love your reference to 15 bean soup: I'm the soup meister, always have a big pot of soup in the fridge, different every week, and my go-to for supper every day.

Want to add you as a friend so your blogs come up -- and I can keep in touch.

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GETUP-N-GOGIRL 1/7/2011 10:43AM

    Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.

Can you get any simpler? :-)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Oh yeah! Gotta absolutely LOVE this reminder!
Thanks Don!

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VALERIEMAHA 1/7/2011 9:15AM

    Like I said above -- EUREKA!

Comment edited on: 1/7/2011 10:04:19 AM

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LADYGWEN25 1/7/2011 9:09AM

    i agree. thanks for the reminder! Even some of us who've been sparking away need the memory job every once in awhile... Keep up the great work Don!

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VALERIEMAHA 1/7/2011 8:58AM

    Blessed be!

Comment edited on: 1/7/2011 10:03:33 AM

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FRECKS96 1/7/2011 8:47AM

    Thanks for the reminders Don! It really can be a simple formula.

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SCOTTK3000 1/7/2011 8:24AM

    This is great! Thanks. mmmmm...flounder!

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JLITT62 1/7/2011 8:01AM

    Great blog & so true! It has taken me about 20 years to get to the point where I can usually have trigger foods around. Once in a blue moon I might get into trouble with them, but it's rare enough for me that it's worth having them -- cause sometimes you really just need a treat, ya know?

I haven't read Michael Pollan, but already live by most of that. But it can definitely be hard -- the allure of protein bars, for instance. PURE bars, for instance, are great -- very few ingredients. But are they the ones I actually eat? Too often the answer is no.

Of course I could make my own. I make most of my own food, I really aspire to making all of my own food . . . but then there's real life, and even without a job, it can be hard to make ALL your own food.

Great reminders!

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DAISYBELL6 1/7/2011 7:38AM

    Good solid information! Thank you for sharing.

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MRDPOLING 1/7/2011 7:03AM

    Wish more in the world could read these words of wisdom!

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    Great reminders, Don! It's probably a good idea, more than we know, to review the basics.

Me too,

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BARBARA_BOO 1/7/2011 1:53AM

    I fought the Food Tracker from time to time, too.

Over the holidays I didn't use it and thought "I'm doing OK. I'm not eating huge portions. I may gain a lb or 2 or maintain. That's fine." El wrongo! I had to re-lose more than I thought I would. It was nasty!

Writing down what I eat and planning ahead are two of the most valuable tools I have.

I love this thought "...Over time we can attempt to build psychological muscle...." Right on!

~Barbara emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 1/7/2011 12:35AM

    Amen! and again I say AMEN!

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COLOURFULME 1/7/2011 12:30AM

    It is a pain in the you know what that tracker. But it works. If I dont track its like I don't know what I have to. And I prefer to do it in advance because it only takes so much time. Sometimes I feel like a spoiled child you know the whining ones. I don't want to do the tracking so I don't but I live up to consequences later.
Happy New Year to you!

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L*I*T*A* 1/6/2011 11:15PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Sending Holiday Wishes to ALL!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Heartfelt appreciation and gratitude going out to ALL of our SparkFamily and sincerest wishes for Peace On Earth as sung so well on one of my very favorite songs of the season! I just LOVE this father / daughter dual effort!

Someone presented this music SO well here at YouTube:


Updated: A tad behind schedule for my blog, but perfect timing for Christmas: this appeared in my inbox this morning. A wonderful message from the Dali Lama: A Human Approach to World Peace:



  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZELLAZM 1/3/2011 9:39AM

    I hope you had a merry Christmas, Don...and are getting a good start on the New Year. Had to come looking for you today - my notifications are off and I hadn't seen a post for you in awhile!


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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 12/28/2010 4:21PM

    happy happy to you too, Don!

Love the new profile pic, btw. You look Badass.

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LADYGWEN25 12/26/2010 1:55PM

    Merry CHristmas Don and here's hoping for a joyous holiday for you and a very prosperous NEw Year!

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CARRIE1948 12/25/2010 8:26AM

    Merry happy

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ANITAHASGOALS 12/25/2010 6:57AM

  Merry Christmas right back at you. I luv all the graphics and the background on your page. I hope that you have a blessed and wonderful fun filled and relaxing day.

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COLOURFULME 12/25/2010 5:25AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
...*./ | \ .*
...* ' ಧಿ წ' *.
, წ ♥ۣۜঔ ,
. '* ۵ ಧಿ ঔ♥ۣۜঔ
... '' *,ಧಿ ঔ წ' ღ 'ঔ *' '
.. ' ' ' ۵წ * ಧಿ ♥ ಧಿ* ۵ ' ' '
. '' *ঔ , ♥ۣۜঔ ,წ ঔ* ''
* ' ঔწ ۵ ঔ♥ۣۜঔ
; ۵ ' * '
..' ' ' ಧಿ .♥ۣۜಧಿ
; ಧಿ. ঔ წ ' ' '
..' ' *ಧಿ წ ღ *♥* ღ ಧಿ* ' '

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Merry♪♫**.♪ Christmas
♥ .**♫♪
Merry ♪♫**.♫♪C
♥ ♥
Merry ♪♫**♫♪Ch
♪♫**.♥ .**♫♪
.And A Happy New Year!
29; .**♫♪...

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 12/25/2010 5:31:40 AM

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L*I*T*A* 12/24/2010 8:33PM

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!

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FRECKS96 12/24/2010 6:25PM

    Merry Christmas Don! How blessed the Binghamton group is to have you.

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MOV4WARD 12/24/2010 5:31PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticonMerry Christmas Don & best wishes for Happy, Healthy New Year full of progress for you & yours! jules :)

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TERRYMEMPHIS 12/24/2010 2:58PM

    Don, Merry X-mas. Your a great guy. Terry

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VALERIEMAHA 12/24/2010 2:58PM

    Incredible graphics accompanying that amazing song with such an important message, and so beautifully rendered by the father and daughter.

I really knew nothing of Vince Gill. (He has sold more than 22 million albums. He has been honored by the Country Music Association with 18 CMA Awards, including two Entertainer of the Year awards and five Male Vocalist Awards. Gill has also earned 20 Grammy Awards, more than any other male Country music artist. In 2007, Gill was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.) Wonder where I've been??? Jenny sounds young there, eh. She's 28 now and married.

It's such a pleasure to have your presence in my life. Your friendship is the best gift I could ask for, Don!

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De-Stress From the Holidays with a Few Chuckles...!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

From one of my favorite techie e-mails: Windows Secrets ( windowssecrets.com )

"We're not sure what to make of this, but the Wacky column is a Windows Secrets subscriber favorite measured by the number of hits it receives proving that our readers have a fine sense of humor.

So to end 2010 with a smile, we've put together a special Wacky the five most popular of the year. We'll start, however, with one of our all-time favorite videos. And at the end, we've tossed in two more of our particular favorites. Enjoy!"


Some GOOD ones here folks...!

Everyone have a WONDERFUL holiday season and whatever you do...

Keep the SPARK!

Bigtime appreciation going out to all of my SparkFamily for all your support, enthusiasm, kindness, understanding and caring kicks-in-the-butt!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

L*I*T*A* 12/23/2010 1:10PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LMB-ESQ 12/23/2010 11:16AM

    Loved the dog playing in the snow! He looks like ours in a different color. They are so funny! We could learn a lot from a dog about how to enjoy life. Thanks for sharing!

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MISS_VIV 12/23/2010 9:21AM

    As always - coming thru with the right stuff at the right time. Have a joyous season and thanks for all that you have done for me. You keep me SPARKIN' emoticon

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LADYGWEN25 12/23/2010 8:11AM

    thanks Don! and thank you for always being so supportive and helpful in return. It's a blessing to share the Spark with you. HAve a wonderful holiday season!

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LMATTHEWS76 12/23/2010 7:27AM


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KIN59VARA 12/23/2010 7:14AM

    Thanks for sharing

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JESPAH 12/23/2010 7:13AM

    Okay, the guy with the copier -- I am thinkin', there is a totally new purpose to Sparkin' now.

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VALERIEMAHA 12/23/2010 7:08AM

    Wish I could watch them (having problems with my connection card)!

And to paraphrase a good friend of mine, "Bigtime appreciation going out to you Don for all your support, enthusiasm, kindness, understanding and caring kicks-in-the-butt!" YEAH!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LOSTLIME 12/23/2010 7:05AM

    Thank you for the morning laugh!

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CLWALDRO 12/23/2010 6:57AM

    very funny thanks for making my day a little brighter with laughter

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Neither Snow, Rain nor Dark of Night...

Friday, December 10, 2010

My private practice appts. lately have been spreading between Weds., Thurs. and Fri. so I've been working in an hour of Nordic Walking on each of those days by leaving my car parked at my day job and pulling out the poles to walk to my office and afterward back. Save a smidgen of gas and get my cardio wedged in on those busy days!

Yesterday presented a nippy challenge as it was around 17 or so degrees, but after 10-15 mins. I'm pretty warmed up, although my legs still felt the chill some. And THEN after getting back to my car to drop off the poles I needed to get BACK downtown for the Celtic Thunder concert and catch up with DW. I *knew* parking would be tough and probably a waste of time, ending up parking almost as far away as I already was. So...off I go again!

No poles this time, but jogging instead, keeping a nice 4-5 mph pace down those nearly-deserted streets.

Tonight the challenge was the lightly falling snow which made the sidewalks slippery...couldn't "grab" with my poles' rubber tips so I didn't get the benefit of the poles as much...just lightly pushing as they would slide along. EXCEPT on my return trip I spotted a side street that was just wet, no snow...light enough with only an occasional car so I stayed on the street where I could "dig in" with the poles...yes!

But back on the main street again I dealt with the slippery snow cover by deciding that "someone" was trying to tell me to give up on the poles and just jog along, which I did for the last 1/2 of the trip.

The jogging felt good. Not *great*, but at least it was good!

Been picking a lotta brains (aka: fellow cycling club members...lol!) on possible cross country skiing venues and came up with a couple up north a little way, which means the odds of them having more and lasting snow would be greater this winter.

For the benefit of those in / around upstate New York here they are:

Lime Hollow Nature Center (near Cortland, NY):

Highland Forest Park (near Syracuse, NY)

Another unexpected treat came out of the blue tonight and an online friend sent me two Paul Winter albums. These are two from back around 1968-69 that I once owned in vinyl but lost to a flood in our basement ages ago:



I have looked EVERYWHERE for these long out-of-print albums! Christmas arrives early! Woo hoo!

These were very formative albums of his which led to Winter's later success in pulling together what would be one of the most unique and expressive music and musicians known as Oregon:


I had the pleasure of seeing them on the cheap (FREE: as I was an usher for our university jazz club...YES!) performing 3 times back in 1976-78 while attending Michigan State University...also around the time Magic Johnson / Gregory Kelser led the Spartans to win the championship and the town was literally torn up with bar chairs set afire in the median strip of Grand Avenue! Ah memories...lol!

If your musical tastes lean toward New Age, World music with an unorthodox, highly unique spin of its own I cannot recommend either the Paul Winter Consort or Oregon highly enough...truly magical, inspired music for the body and soul!

Nite all!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JCORYCMA 12/15/2010 10:30PM

    Makes me long for when we lived in the Hudson River Valley! You always inspire me with your dedication to exercise any and every chance that you get. Keep it up. Also put in me the column for loving Paul Winter and Celtic Thunder!

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SCOTTK3000 12/13/2010 10:43PM

    Great exercise! I love Paul Winter too. Saw the consort a few times in the eighties. Once in the early 90's at Symphony Hall in Boston. Everyone was howling like a wolf, very cool. I had seats in the Balcony straight back from the stage and then at one point Paul Winter comes out from behind us onto the Balcony and played his clarinet from there. Inspiring. Thanks for helping me to remember that!

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 12/13/2010 2:26PM

    Yay for the XC skiing. A friend took me for 2 hours on a challenging (for me) intermediate course at Bear Swamp near Sempronius this weekend.

Everyone else was a lot faster and more proficient than me, but I burned over 1000 calories and can feel that I used some muscles that needed it, so it's all good. I need to work on my skills so they won't have to wait for me so much next time!

Some of the downhill ski resorts also rent equipment. Greek Peak has nice groomed trails and skis for rent. Carrie and I went there one day last winter.

Here's a list of places, some of which also rent equipment:
I think the map dots in black rent, while the ones in white don't - at least after clicking on a few of them...

Comment edited on: 12/13/2010 2:55:11 PM

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AZIMAT 12/12/2010 2:41PM

    I love Paul Winter... his latest album is on eMusic, download for $5.99.


I'm impressed that your'e keeping up your exercise in the cold, I just wrote part of my blog about that!

BTW I second the longjohn comment. Polypropylene fiber is supposed to be the best (anhydrous, it wicks moisture away from the body), that's what the military uses for cold weather. Patagonia has some nice stuff, and you can usually find it discounted on the web.

Comment edited on: 12/12/2010 2:45:02 PM

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L*I*T*A* 12/11/2010 9:40AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JESPAH 12/11/2010 8:58AM

    Appointments? Are you a medical type person?

I just realized there are things like that we don't know about each other. Not just you and me, but Sparkies in general. Hmm.

Cross country skiing. I know it's good exercise. I just can't get over my desire to do not much with snow except shovel it outta the way.

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DAYHIKER 12/11/2010 8:27AM

    Way to go, Don, to get in all that exercise despite your circumstances! emoticon


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ZELLAZM 12/11/2010 7:51AM

    I love how you're making it work with your exercise on busy days. We have to be resourceful sometimes...look forward to hearing about your winter bike runs!


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FERRETLOVER1 12/11/2010 7:28AM

    Don, you simply amaze me with your dedication to exercise!! Wow!!!

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ACIMPEGGY 12/10/2010 10:45PM

    I will definitely look up your musicians...new age, I love Yanni, most Enya...I know, honey, those are the well known ones. I ADORE Yanni at the Acropolis. I also find I like classical Baroque.

I took some classes at MSU...and can still sing all the words to the fight song!

My little brother went to school with Magic Johnson (" Mom, we have a new boy in school. He's so nice, and can he play ball! His name is Earvin."

You need longjohns, Don, to protect your legs. I wear them virtually daily November through April. Also ice grippie thingies for your shoes/boots.

Sounds like a really good day for you, though. Enjoy your weekend, too!

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Striving for Balance

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I've come across a very thought-provoking article written by a formerly obese person who dubs herself as "The Thinnest Fat Woman in the World." She was once a proponent of the Fat Acceptance movement and although she has made radical shifts away from this, she offers some insights which she has taken from this experience:

Caught Between Fat and Thin: The Pounds Come Off, But the Label Stays


The level of acceptance and balance she has achieved I think offers an important angle for those looking to make their new, healthy and well lifestyle a permanent change.

I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts, reactions!

Also, another article along the "Buy Nothing - Value Everything" thinking:

Downsize Nation: Welcome to the New, Smaller American Dream


Have a great day everyone!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 12/10/2010 6:13AM

    I suspect a small part of our national obesity epidemic also stems from an entitlement culture. We have little patience with things like cooking, dieting, exercising and sleeping (!), we want everything, and we feel deprived if we don't get everything. Hmm.

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L*I*T*A* 12/9/2010 9:28AM

    what great articles!!
such thought provoking concepts...
thanks for sharing.........
blessings and hugs..............lita

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 12/8/2010 10:50PM

    That article by Greta Christina is a keeper. How often I've recently thought, "gee, I thought things would be more... *different* after I got the weight off..."

In a lot of ways they are different. Outward ways. But inside I'm still the same me and the way I feel is also the same me, much of the time. And I think there are still things I need to work on, because I'm not as happy as I'd like to be.

Thanks for sharing!

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VEGGIE_POWERED 12/8/2010 7:01PM

    Love the tiny houses! My current home is by no means a McMansion - but I can't wait to get out of it and into a much smaller space (preferably in France). I just quietly wonder what will become of all the unwanted excess (e.g. Hummer's, McMansions, etc.)? I suppose we can all count on a few folks clinging on to the old paradigm and getting what they've always "wanted" at a bargain price. Meh - they can have it. Give me a cottage with room for my wife and three wiener dogs, a couple bikes, a nice vegetable garden - done.

OK, I won't lie - put that on 5-10 acres of hobby farm complete with solar, wind, well, root cellar, and bio-diesel setup and I'm done. Oh so very done and so very happy. To live simple is to live well. Thanks for posting this - a good read and a good reminder!

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VALERIEMAHA 12/8/2010 9:39AM

    "And I still take it really, really personally. I don't hear anti-fat bigotry the way I hear, say, racial bigotry, as something to be passionately opposed but that isn't aimed at me personally. I hear it as being about me. When someone in a comment thread here on AlterNet linked to an older photo of me and mocked me for being fat, I felt the shame and the sting and the anger... before I remembered, 'Wait a minute. I'm not fat.' And was left with only the anger. On behalf of myself... and every other woman who's ever had her ideas irrelevantly dismissed because of her personal appearance."

I LOVE this article, Don. It's packed full of truth and wisdom. What an able advocate Greta Christina is! Thanks for culling it out and sharing it. Isn't AlterNet just the best! And OF COURSE I love the "less is more" article and focus in life!
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