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Tuesday Cardio-Spin Challenge

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

So today was fraught with all sorts of potential landmines. Tuesday is my designated meeting hell day for the week. It's where I run our staff meeting, finance meeting, personnel moves & hires, yadda-yadda-yadda. I cram them all into Tuesday morning so as not to have huge "death by a thousand meetings" with tons of people in them the rest of the week.

Needless to say, this sometimes cramps my ability to duck out for a lunchtime spin class. On top of that, my afternoon today was packed with a slew of other to-do items to include phone calls, reports to get out, and a few visits from out of town contractors trying to sell me crap.

But there was a small window where, if my timing was perfect, I could split work, change, ride, shower, change, and get back to the office in time for my 1:00 PM appointment.

Did I make it?

You bet your Sparky ass I did! It was a thing of beauty....Stephen Spielberg couldn't have choreographed it any better.

What was especially good was that I got there just in time to land a bike.....5 minutes after I got there, they were turning people away because all the bikes were taken. Apparently, the January gym effect is still strong here in Florida.

The workout itself felt good. Curvilicious instructor updated her playlist with some pretty hardcore jamming tunes and gave us nary a break for the whole 45 minutes. On top of that, I was still recovering from yesterday's leg & back ST session. Monday was my medium weight/hi rep day.....sets of 15 squats, deadlifts, leg extensions, pullups, seated rows, etc.....the days I hate the most because there seems to be no end to each set. The time between the 12th squat and the 15th is sometimes infinite.

On the plus side, I'm back into a good eating routine too. I pack 2 salads to work and eat these around 10:00 AM and another around 3:00 PM. I load it up with spinach and lettuce, put about 2-3 oz of whatever protein SWMBO has in the fridge (of late the little vixen has been buying some most excellent Gulf Shrimp!), a tablespoon or 2 of my favorite ginger dressing (Makoto), a dash of olive oil, and a tablespoon of cottage cheese.

Each salad comes in at about 300 calories and tides me over quite nicely till dinner. I also keep a stash of almonds or pecans in my desk drawer and these provide a little crunchy snack if I feel like noshing in between salads.

I'm pretty happy with this routine.....I feel like I could maintain eating like this indefinitely. So far I'm back down to 181 lbs, hoping to get below 175 in the next few months. I may have to goad a couple of my Spark buds into an informal challenge to make sure we all get there!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BERGBA7 1/25/2013 1:04PM

    wow spin class for lunch between meetings... that's stressful! Congrats on doing it! You are super-spinner-man!
Interesting idea to have 2 salads during the day instead of a "lunch" - tempted to try it at work...
Have a great weekend!

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CLAIREINPARIS 1/25/2013 8:09AM

    Woohoo! It sounds great!
"Stephen Spielberg couldn't have choreographed it any better."... LOVED it!!! emoticon

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YOUNGNSMYLIE 1/24/2013 7:16PM

    Awesome job! It always feels good to make it to a class when you've got a crazy schedule.

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 1/23/2013 9:34AM


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.*) ✫ .*)✫ Spread the Spark
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BEATLETOT 1/23/2013 3:59AM

    What a fabulous blog! I've been eating my salad usually at home for dinner. I pack fruit and the last couple weeks, a frozen entree for lunch, though yesterday was soup. Since I don't like to cook, I usually top the salad with taco meat...that's all I really bother with. =)

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Neglected abs.....WTF!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Well it's not like I really neglect my abs. Hell, almost every workout, every lift, every meeting at work, I make a point of contracting my abs to help build up my core. As a result, a few months ago, I stopped doing dedicated ab routines, figuring I make up for them doing squats, deadlifts, even presses where I suck that belly button right back into my spine.

And believe me, it works. I've noticed the benefits in my posture, in my core strength, and even in the lack of any lower back pains for a long, long time.

So today, after a nice hard HIIT session on the spin cycle at the gym, I figured I'd throw in a little dedicated ab work, using one of my favorite routines, the Nike Training Club app's 15-minute "Ab Burner" workout. It's 3 sets of Toe Touches, Russian Twists, Planks, and Crazy Ivans (medicine ball raise with a twist);

Toe Touches

Russian Twists

Planks (I add the rising twist)

"Crazy Ivans"

Each set takes 5 minutes. You run once through the above routines, take a 30 sec break, repeat, rest for 30, repeat.

Well I gotta' tell you, I was whipped! After the first set, my abs felt like Steven Tyler hitting the high notes of "Walk this Way"

And that was totally unexpected! Now I'm not vain enough to believe that I will ever be lean enough to have veins start bulging through my abs (but seriously, how cool would that be!), but I figured that my abs were pretty darn strong.

And so while I guess that they are, they might be strong doing the things they do most (static contractions), but maybe I need to do some ab routines routinely to build up their endurance during movements.

So there really is no let up, no backsliding, no exercise that has no benefit.....there is only one path to success.....continuous application of hard work and discipline!

Damn, I might have to add pushups back in as well!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REBECCATKD 1/21/2013 8:39PM

    Looks like fun! How many reps?

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HANSBRINK 1/21/2013 5:13PM

  Yes to all, along with some bicycle crunches and some reverse crunches. You call them planks, I call them side planks. Can really feel those when I'm done.

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LISAINMS 1/21/2013 3:57PM

    I had stopped doing pushups and planks because I get so much core and shoulder work anyway. I decided to do an old bootcamp routine last week and made a similar sad (and painful) discovery. That routine is going back in rotation.

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MYLADY4 1/21/2013 3:49PM

    Love Russian twists

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NAYPOOIE 1/21/2013 2:56PM

    Abs are my least exercised muscles. I should probably change that

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HEALTHIERKEN 1/21/2013 2:35PM

    You're scaring me : ( Clearly, I'll never look like Conan by Hallowe'en unless I get back to dedicated abs workouts. Thanks for the wake-up call.


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GREENGENES 1/21/2013 2:25PM

    I also haven't done push-ups in a long time thinking that I'm working those muscles with other exercises. I fear that I am sadly mistaken. I think I have to start mixing things up some more. Thanks for the reminder.

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 1/21/2013 8:14AM

    Love the look of the Crazy Ivans! Need to try that!

My favorite overall core workout is the Turkish Get Up. As I get older, the idea of falling and not being able to get up scares me. This exercise makes me feel like I'm helping to mitigate that possibility... or at lease delay it as long a possible!

Check out:

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BILL60 1/21/2013 6:54AM

    I feel the burn!!

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BERGBA7 1/21/2013 3:07AM

    As a singer, my first concern in this blog is Steven Tyler' vocal folds...
He sure needs some serious rest after a performance with multiple of those high notes... so I hope you did not actually strain your abs the same way he is misusing his vocal folds. Otherwise they will need a week or two of rest to recover!
You are very right saying that if you stop doing an exercise, you loose your ability to actually do it... this is even true in singing high notes... train them or loose them-but with good technique, Steven!

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    Seriously couldn't agree with you more. I haven't done a series of push-ups in a couple months (since I shifted from bootcamps to spin classes) and ....I fear how much I've back-slid in that body-weight department. Keep it up!

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Facing life with a steady gaze

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ever had a day where nothing went as planned? (If you answered no to this, you may be on the wrong website)

Well my last 2 days have been a whirlwind. Aside from the usual crises of the day, my boss called me up 4 times today (He's in Las Vegas, I'm in Florida....he's a great boss, but still, 4 calls?!?!) Anyway, looks like I'll be flying out to Vegas on Monday for a bunch of meetings I need to cover.....never a bad reason to go to Vegas though!

Yesterday, I didn't even get around to tackling my To-Do list till after 3:00 PM. The good news is that by 6:30 PM, I was on a spin bike working out all the days' frustrations. It was particularly rewarding to raz the 30-something instructor as he slow-pedaled and took a breather while he "checked his music"......Really dude, you don't slow down or take a break unless you let EVERYBODY slow down and take a break....sheeesh!

Today was much the same, especially with the last minute schedule changes for next week. I did manage to get in an incredible ST session where my Stasi-trained trainer and I set some fairly impressive personal records. I'm now squatting more than 50 lbs over my body weight and deadlifting 100 lbs over.....2 years ago I could barely do half my body weight on either of these!

The other thing I tackled tonight was a co-worker in the hospital. Tough situation. A real young kid with some pretty serious personal issues wound up in a psychiatric ward. I visited him and spent about 2 hours talking with him about life, handling stress, expectations, dealing with the future.....all the counsel and experience a 50-something dude like me would like to pass on to a troubled kid in his early 20s. He's got a lot going on and can't see any further out than what might happen to him tomorrow and fears of the immense future beyond.

So when I look at all of the minor annoyances that plague me and the angst of being 7 lbs above my goal weight (Oh my, how terrible!!), I realize that I've really got it plenty good and that my "stuff" and the importance I give it isn't much compared to what could be.

Here's to facing life with a steady gaze!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PAMATX 1/19/2013 6:42PM

    Terrific post. You're an awesome guy. I hoped your visit helped your friend.

emoticon emoticon

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 1/13/2013 9:02AM

    Cheers to facing life with a steady gaze!

Blessings on you for doing all you do and touching all those lives!!

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    I love your comment about being on the wrong website! LOL! I like Rebecca's idea that you need to become a spin instructor - you would rock it!

Good for you for visiting your young friend. I really hope he can get something out of your discussion. It's always good to share your experience and reach out - I'm sure he'll remember it for a long time.

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REBECCATKD 1/12/2013 7:52PM

    You are unstoppable! Yes, you do need to become a spin instructor -- but probably for the Marines.

Thanks for visiting your young friend. I can imagine in a situation like that, every hand that reaches out to help you can strengthen the lifeline. While other co-workers probably shied away from this kid, you went to talk to him. That's important. You're a good guy.

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WOUBBIE 1/12/2013 11:01AM

    Good on you for being there for your young co-worker!

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MILLIE5522 1/12/2013 8:20AM

    Thanks for the reminder that there are some advantages to being 50+. Its a shame that when we are in our twenties that we don't have that perspective. I would have had a good pep talk to my twenty year old self and told her to not to worry so much and that bad times are never as bad or last as long as you imagine.

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BERGBA7 1/12/2013 7:03AM

    Wow 100pound over your weight!!! That is impressive. The incident with the spin instructor shows you should a class now and then... so he has some breaks.
Great that you found time for a younger colleague. I would not like to be 20 again. Happy I reached those much serener 40s!
Have a great weekend and I would love to come to Vegas with you.

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BILL60 1/12/2013 6:13AM

    Life is good. We just need a reminder once in a while.

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    Just say 'YES!' to a steady gaze! And may we all eventually be 7lbs away from our goal weights. (cheers!) emoticon

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GOODGETNBETR 1/12/2013 1:07AM

    emoticon on the physical accomplishments but way to go above and beyond to spend time with that co-worker. emoticon

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HEALTHIERKEN 1/12/2013 12:43AM

    Steady gaze it is, GETSTRONGRRR! Good on ya for making time to mentor the Young 'Un. Even if he doesn't buy into everything you offer him today, there will be a day in the future when it clicks for him. Amazing weight-lifting you've got going on there! With that kind of ST achievements, are you sure you've set a realistic goal weight? Maybe your body is telling you it needs to be heavier to do the work you're giving it . . .

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Spin Instructor.....Moi?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

So I've been thinking lately.....should I teach a spin class?

Crazy, sure it's crazy! I have a day job that keeps me pretty damn busy, I travel about 2 weeks a month, I've got a family life that keeps me quite nicely occupied.....the last thing I need is another hobby!

Yet, I think I'd be pretty damn good at it! Sure, some will think, "what the hell is this 53 year old dude thinking" but I think I can humble them after just a few songs!

You see, it all started over Christmas.....

This year, I did almost all my XMAS shopping on Amazon (except for the bushel of oranges I sent my mom from a shop here in Florida). Somewhere in cyberspace, I racked up about 20 bucks in credits for free music.

I didn't really have any burning desire for new music per se, but then I thought, "maybe I'll just download a couple of tunes with a steady BPM to try out at the gym"

Next thing you know, I've got about 15 new tunes from the likes of "Workout Heroes", "DJ Shocker", and "LA Fitness Crew"....mostly a bunch of guys that remix various hits with a lot of bass and a steady pounding beat.

And I told myself, "Self, you ought to try these out next time you're at the gym"

So on my last 3 cardio days, I've snuck in to the spin room at the gym, plugged in my music.....and exhausted myself with some pretty intensive HIIT on the bike thanks to my newly downloaded (and did I mention FREE) workout music.

And of course, being the kind, loving, and helpful soul that I am (seriously, ask my mom.....remember, I sent her oranges in winter!) I started thinking, "Hey I can help people get in shape by getting them to rock with me to some of these tunes"

But I'm not a personal trainer.....and I'm not a certified Spin Instructor.....hell, I've never even taken a CPR class. Why the hell would I want to do this?

Because the music is pretty darn good.....and I just like the idea that a 50-something guy like me can probably crush a bunch of 20-something dudes as they walk into the class thinking it'll be a cakewalk.

But that is arrogance....which leads to hubris....and all the sorts of bad things my mom warned me about long ago.

So I'm still working on the playlist....I've got it fine tuned to where I get in an incredible workout in about 30 minutes (15 of which are at a pretty hi-intensity level) and another one that goes on for 60 minutes at about 80% that intensity.

Maybe I'll just schmooz the curvilicious instructor and see if I can't win a "Guest Instructor" slot one of these days!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BEATLETOT 1/9/2013 2:57AM

    I think being guest instructor would be a good can always move on to becoming an instructor later!

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    I wonder if they would allow you to sub without your certification? What would it take to get your certification?

"And I told myself, "Self, "

---all great personal growth stories start with one saying to oneself ,"self"---

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FANGFACEKITTY 1/9/2013 12:54AM

    Careful...or they might start calling YOU StasiGuy! Which isn't necessarily a bad thing when you think about it. Who knows, you might find you like it so much that you quit your day job.

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LISAINMS 1/8/2013 10:13PM

    Definitely try it out as a substitute teacher. It would be fun!

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IMSMILEY88 1/8/2013 10:10PM

    That sounds like a wonderful plan! You COULD make a difference in a lot of lives! And, I've been wondering where the instructors get music like that... I'll have to check those out! Thanks!

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Confessions of a missing blogger

Monday, January 07, 2013

OK, I freely admit, I have been on a "No-blog" streak for over 2 months. Certainly, not a streak to be proud of and I have no real reason to have been on a blogging va-ca for so long. It's not like my life is any busier than usual (I'm still on the road 2+ weeks a month), nor have I had any "Spark disasters" (other than gaining about 9 lbs during the holidays, 4 of which have come back off since 1 Jan). Yeah, my last blog I highlighted the disheartening news about my cholesterol numbers being sky high, but truth be told, I look and feel healthier today than at any time in the last 20 years! Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!

I guess I just haven't had much to say!

Now none of my friends or family would ever say that I am a man of few words or characterize me as a "quiet man," so why I suddenly canned the blogging....what the hell, I really don't know why. However, as I approach my 3rd year on Spark (join date 9 Jan 11), I look back on the things that have helped me succeed and public blogging is right up there at the top of the list.

The good news is that I can honestly say that I am starting off 2013 feeling great. The past 2 years, but especially the last half of 2012, have given me a degree of control over my weight and health that I had previously viewed as out of my control. Especially over....FOOD!

Right before Thanksgiving, I weighed in at 177.....the lowest I have weighed in probably 20 years. Going into the holidays, I made a conscious decision (yes a conscious one) that I wasn't going to get all bent out of shape about enjoying.....carbs.

Yes carbs, that doughy, sugary, starch-laden food group that comes out in force between Thanksgiving and New Years.

I have been very disciplined since about June 2012 on keeping my carbs real low. Voila, I saw waistline shrinkage, pound droppage, and a sense of appetite control I have never felt before.

Great God in boots, why then would I ever eat carbs again?!?!

Hell, I don't know. SWMBO and I are social animals. We get lots of invitations to all sorts of events.....and I really felt like having some pecan pie....and some brownies.....and some warm, fresh out of the oven, bread.

So I did. Screw the tracker, screw the carbs, to hell with it all, let's just see what happens.

Well 9 lbs 3 weeks! The 9 lbs that took me 7 months to drop off came back in 3 freakin' weeks.

Is there any justice in this universe?!?!? Who the hell designs a human body to have to work its ass off to drop 9 lbs in 7 months, only to have them find their way right back on in only 3 short holiday weeks. I wish my bank account worked like hard to take money out and have it all replaced in no time!

But like I said, it was a conscious decision. I wanted to run a little experiment, and, as with many things I've learned since joining Spark, I will chalk this up as a valuable experience.

Here's the cool part though.....I am not stressed about the gain.....I am confident and know just what I need to do to get back to where I want to be (like I said, 4 lbs have dropped off real quick). Two years of experience here has convinced me that logging food, logging points, working out, checking in with SP buds, welcoming newcomers, and yes, blogging, are all successful tools to get us the healthy body and lives we want.

So coming in to my 3rd year on SP, life is good; I know what works for me (and what doesn't).

I guess my only resolution for this year is to blog more often.....sure, why not!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRIANGLE-WOMAN 1/13/2013 8:59AM

    I've missed you!

Glad to see you are back and reconfirming what I already know!

Yes, the Universe is unfair in these food laden times, treating us like we faced the same cycle of feast and famine that the seasons used to slam us with. Spring used to be known as "the starving time" when the winter stores were low, and the summer harvests were but a dream.

No so much anymore.

DH and I have been using the "Lose It" App to track our food for the last few weeks and are loving it. When I see some real results, I will let everyone know!

Until then, I'll keep doing what you are doing... "logging food, logging points, working out, checking in with SP buds, welcoming newcomers, and yes, blogging" .....

..*) ♥.*)
(. .♥ (. .♥ (.*`* ♥☆.*`*♥☆
`*♥☆ Keep Spreading the Spark!!!

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MILLIE5522 1/8/2013 4:47PM

    I put on 5 lbs in 4 days emoticon I had even tracked my every bite and clocked up an extra 1000 calories on each of those days which should be just over a 1lb gain not 5! Not fair!! Stamp feet!!!!
But you are right. We know that being on here works and yes I have lost 2 of those pounds since the New Year. So here's to SP and all the great people like you who keep me on the straight and narrow (most of the time!) emoticon

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JTROBERTSON 1/8/2013 10:26AM

    I'm still constantly impressed by your ability to continue eating well and exercising with all that travel. Usually traveling destroys my good habits until I get home. That's something to work on, I suppose!

Glad to see you back blogging. I'm going to pretend it was my coming back and posting a blog that inspired you. emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/8/2013 10:26:46 AM

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BILL60 1/8/2013 9:34AM

    I think that most of us, in spite of trying otherwise, succumbed to the gastronomical treasures that the Holidays bring. Now it's back to the self-discipline. Let's go steady, let's go hard.

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JUST_TRI_IT 1/8/2013 8:27AM

    This just made me chuckle emoticon action research is a valuable process!! Welcome back.

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BOB240 1/8/2013 7:29AM

    No there is no justice in the universe. You and me both can not eat carbs........

It is very unfair..

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BERGBA7 1/8/2013 7:00AM

    Welcome back to blogging! emoticon
Are you still on low carb/ high fat? I thought you dropped it when your blood came back with some cholesterol issues... or are you making an "in between" thing low carb but not too much fat? Just being curious.
It is great when, like you, one knows what works and what not!
emoticon emoticon
I will only get new workout cloths when I am able to run for 2 hours... this means summer or so!
All the best for 2013 and stay healthy and sparking!

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    9 lbs in 3 weeks is nothing...I did 5 in one. Good to hear you're back on track with your blogging & dropping those carb-laden lbs.

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    mmm yes, the spark experiments. I enjoy a little experiment every now and then. I too went 'WHERE THE 'H' DID THIS FREAKIN' WEIGHT COME FROM SO FAST?! Well, it was about like that, anyways. I also find myself feeling better with fewer starchy, sugary carbs. But Holy scales, batman! They (the calories which translate into weight) sure know how to find it (the scale) at Christmas time.

I have also been a little slow to blog lately as well, besides the December blogs, which were good for a while. For about as long as I was disciplined.

Back to it!

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HEALTHIERKEN 1/7/2013 11:01PM

    Good to hear from you again, GETSTRONGRRR. I hope all the newbies read your blog so that they can see a couple of things: first, even a seasoned Sparker can backtrack faster than he can count; and second, it's not the end of the world if a weight loser accidentally or carelessly 'finds' a few of his lost pounds. That's 'cause once folks become seasoned Sparkers they realize there's no need to sweat the small stuff, tomorrow's always a day for a new start, and you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar so be kind and gentle with Self when Self slips now and again.

Happy New Year, and here's to getting back to winning Spark habits for all of us Holiday Gainers : )

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    Good to see you again! Don't worry - I was down to 154 (my lowest) and then the holidays happened and I'm back up to 160. Here's to a great 2013!

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PAMATX 1/7/2013 10:33PM

    Great post! I feel the same about the holidays. Enjoy, and then get back to it. No problemo. And I too had a darn good time being social.

Best to you in 2013! We shall tear it up!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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IMSMILEY88 1/7/2013 10:31PM

    Yes, blogging is another key to weight loss! emoticon Welcome back to the bloggy world!

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WOUBBIE 1/7/2013 10:25PM

    Totally excellent post! I for one have missed you in the SP blogosphere!

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