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Strawberries again. And swordfish. (Morocco)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

During this 3 day quick come-and-go trip to Morocco, I finally managed to make a run every day. I only had 30 mins, so I did interval training.

I had the chance to taste the first strawberries of the new season, mainly shipping for the fresh market. They are sooo good looking and tasty. Oh, I love my job! Many of my colleagues are saturated with strawberries, but somehow, I am still fascinated by these fruits. In fact, before working here, I didn't really care about strawberries, but here, over time, I got into it.

On this evening pic, you can see my favourite place in Asilah, a restaurant called Casa Garcia. It's owned by a Spanish man. They are specialized in seafood, and there's not really a menu, everything is shown in the glass-doored fridge that is available to eat. Everything is fresh from the sea. It's that type of restaurant that is exquisite cuisine, but not expensive, not a posh place. I got the insider tip from a colleague working there for years before.

I ordered mixed salad - somehow simple vegetable salad taste extremely joyful, salad de fruit de mer, swordfish, icecream, and tropical fruit salad. I asked about the side dish, and my worry was justified, so I asked to exchange the pile of french fries to steamed vegetables. And all this wonder for the same cost as a workday lunch in Austria.

What I find interesting in Morocco's cuisine, is that very healthy, fresh, organic, low calorie food is on offer in the same way as, fat rich, heavy food. For example, Taijine, which is steamed chicken/beef with vegetables dish, and heavy in fat grilled ribs with french fries are similar price items on the menu. In Austria, and Hungary, I only find low calorie items in special restaurants, or as special "fitness" menu items. In Morocco, somehow by tradition it is part of the menu. And most of the raw material is fresh, organic, non-processed.

As for my weekly new habit, brushing my teeth after breakfast, it's in. I had to do it in a rush, in the toilet of the hotel lobby, but it's in.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZELLAZM 1/19/2012 8:59AM

    I'm with you - love strawberries. I'm looking forward to strawberry season but it's going to be a few months yet. Enjoyed hearing about Moroccan cooking!

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KKINNEA 1/18/2012 11:04PM

    Great building. Sounds like the tooth brushing habit is set - nice job! Also, I love how you get your exercise and healthy eating in - I love the joyful descriptions of tasty food!

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GETSTRONGRRR 1/18/2012 9:04PM

    Great job....enjoy it! I agree strawberries are always good!

I'll have to put Morocco onto my list of places to vacation

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PRAIRIECROCUS 1/18/2012 8:38PM

    Keep up the emoticon work !


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KMICHA 1/18/2012 8:29PM

    Oliver! Way to go! Even if it's not the exercise that you are use to, you are still out there doing it! The food sounds so delicious! I can almost taste the strawberries! Thanks for sharing your travel experiences with us! I think many of us enjoy reading about them and seeing the pictures you post!

Good Habit! Brush those pearly whites!

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MELLOWPETE 1/18/2012 8:13PM

  Nice work keeping up on your fitness while away from home! I always found that difficult to do.

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PEPPYPATTI 1/18/2012 7:40PM

    This all sounds so fascinating! And good for you on the teeth brushing! Way to go Oliver! emoticon

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Africa, North and South (Morocco)

Monday, January 16, 2012

This week is funny. The frist three days I spend in Larache, Morocco (North Africa). Then on Thursday I am off to Cape Town, South-Africa.

For this week my new habit was to brush my teeth after breakfast every day.
Yesterday and today was good!

Before dinner, I went to run, 30 minutes. It was dark, cold, and lots of wind, but somehow I didn't care. My colleague told me to pick me up in an hour, and I've seen automatically taking on my running gear and heading outside. It's great that I don't need to put in any extra willpower to make my daily exercise happen. It just happens.

Food here in Morocco is excellent. There's nothing special as creation, just simple Taijine, Couscous, grilled seefood. But somehow, the ingredients and the raw materials are all natural, fresh, local products, and everything tastes even in the roadside grill marvellous.
So, I plan to eat less for breakfast, and squeeze in good runs to have room for the calories.

Travel, especially airplanes can be difficult for nutrition. Lots of junk food around, and lack of sleep and tiredness all work in favour of snacking. Today, I've spent 5h altogether in small Fokker and Canadair style airplanes. But somehow, it was all good. (And let me list all the cities crossed today, quite a list!)

I left Gleisdorf with my usual 15g of Granola and half cup milk. In Graz, I had a bottle of water and a small croissant in the lounge. In Vienna, I refilled my water bottle, and got a fruit salad before the second flight. I asked otherwise for water on each 3 flights, and slept trough the junk food sections. For lunch, I grabbed a chicken salad in Madrid - was not easy among the heaps of sandwiches on offer with high quality Spanish meat. Arriving in Tangier, I decided to skip eating, and after driving on the highway, had an afternoon chicken-califlower Taijine near Rabat instead. Then, finally, I had a proper meal for dinner in Asilah, with my colleagues. I went for seafood, as in Austria seafood is not really available, and here in Morocco it's so tasty. A colleague of mine said "your good in healthy fatty acids for the week!".

This is where I ran today (this is not made by me, it was already dark), in Asilah.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZELLAZM 1/18/2012 7:39AM

    It was fun to read about your Spark adventures in exotic places. WTG on keeping up the healthy habits in spite of travel temptations!

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KKINNEA 1/17/2012 2:12PM

    Your running path looks nice - how was it in the dark? Great job on sticking with the healthy foods! Sounds like you should get as much fresh seafood as you can while you're near the source.

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FVHORVATH 1/17/2012 8:48AM

    Love to see the pictures of places you have been! I am so jealous that you have all this wonderful travel. Great job on all the choices you made for foods. I would be tempted to try all the goodies!

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LESLIE_2B_LESS 1/17/2012 12:58AM

    I just love your travel blogs! I am still really jealous! Kudos to you on all your healthy decisions you make! You are great Daisy!

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KIMBERTA99 1/16/2012 11:32PM

    Oliver you are still going strong....you have some of the best habits of anyone I know!! I am glad that you still are able to find some healthy option and I like the idea of eating lite in the morning so you can enjoy some of the local fares for dinner!!

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CLAIREINPARIS 1/16/2012 8:01PM

    Wow, wonderful! Glad the food is so gorgeous in Morocco! I must say I sometimes struggle to eat healthily through my travels, but this time I am doing better. Although my Haitian colleagues and friends always want to 'feed' me!!! So I am being very careful - no bread, no sauce, as litle rice/pasta as possible and no desserts. Hopefully it will do the trick.

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GETSTRONGRRR 1/16/2012 7:04PM

    You're doing great!! Travel is tough and airline food makes it tougher on long trips, so good thing you're packing your own food.

Sounds perfect eating local....it's my favorite way to travel!!

Enjoy and keep squeezing in those workouts!!

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PRAIRIECROCUS 1/16/2012 6:40PM

    All the best !

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CAPTHAMMER 1/16/2012 6:35PM

    Always love your travelogues, Oliver. Since you mention a colleague, this must be another business trip. Are you still looking at strawberries?

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Fix bad habits (my favourite article on habits) (+FNF goals)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beside the 5% challenge that is becoming 2nd nature in my sparklife, I joined Sassymoho again for a quest, which moves different energies in me. This blog is a bit longer than usual.

emoticon5% challenge this week habit:
Brush teeth after breakfast, lunch, dinner. I start this week by washing teeth after every breakfast. I start on Sunday, today, and it's already done.
To motivate myself, I bought an extra Oral-B Pulsonic toothbrush. This is because I love gadgets, and I take this to my workplace. I also bought a pocket Elmex toothbrush+pasta combo.

emoticonFNF by Sassymoho challenge: goals, and last week:

My plan was to think about my goals, and my starting point, and finish line.
I thought to keep it simple, to increase the chance of success. I decided to make 2012 be around developing new skills. So all these are new skills. I only start a new one, when the previous one had been done every day the last 7 days.
I was struck by choosing an emotional goal. I've never thought about it before, I was always about Body/Mind/Spirit. So I thought to cut trough the stuff, and make it first priority.
The finish line for each of these is to become a habit after the challenge, so to do it without extra willpower every day.

emoticon1. Emotional: Gratitude light
I was experimenting lately with the gratitude journal, which is about listing 5 things "Today, I am grateful for:". It focuses me on the positive energies, and I expect to be more optimistic and feel happier.
Tierney J (2011): A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day

This happened for 9 days, so I keep it going, and move on to start #2.

emoticon2. Body: BAM Brush-After-Meal
I brush my teeth after breakfast sometimes, and before going to bed on every day. I want to make it a habit to wash teeth after every breakfast, and later on after every lunch, and in the evening to switch to wash teeth after dinner.
This is partly for the health of my teeth, and partly to "close" the meal, so I munch less afterwards.

emoticon3. Mental: Morning pages
I will start this later but it's on my plan for FNF. I expect this to clear my mind, and improve my productivity for the day overall. Then I will have more time to PLAY!

emoticon4. Spiritual:
I want to make a habit to do meditation in the morning, and later, in the evening. Probably this will come through establishing a morning sequence, and an evening sequence of doing things. Otherwise, it will be just skipped in the daily rush and tiredness. I'm still planning on how to make this happen.

To support all these happen, I made a small mindmap, and an Excel table (printed) to track my progress (tip was from Gretchen Rubin on happyness-project.com).

Any tips, feedback, supporting questions for the above are welcome!

A picture from my run yesterday (14K):

emoticonHere's my favorite article on habits.
A must read for anybody who wants to improve on habits.

Young S. (2011):
Fix Bad Habits: Insights from a 7-Year Obsession

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AMYC0128 1/15/2012 6:01PM

    Thank you for sharing :)

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KKINNEA 1/15/2012 3:14PM

    You and I are both doing the complementary challenges for the Daisies and SASSYMOHO. I think they'll help reinforce each other.

I love that you take your electric toothbrush with you - I only haul around my regular one!

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LASARRE 1/15/2012 2:17PM

    Great ideas!

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PEPPYPATTI 1/15/2012 1:42PM

    Awesome! I also keep a gratitude journal, It helps me to stay focused on the positives which is great on your mood! I also joined several teams whose themes are "positiveness". Way to go on your goals!

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ZELLAZM 1/15/2012 11:12AM

    Thanks for sharing so much good info! Much success to you in building new habits!

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SPARKCHANTAL 1/15/2012 10:50AM

    go hakapes, you*re such a hard worker! and so 'Konsequent'!

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    Great blog.

I loved the article on habits.

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FVHORVATH 1/15/2012 9:32AM

    Great way to stay motivated! Loved the picture at the end!

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NINNY165 1/15/2012 9:32AM

    Think you for giving me some insight to make my life better for me and ultimately for those I love. I want to make this year a year about me & for me. This is proving to be a challenge but I am worth it.

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REBECCAMA 1/15/2012 9:09AM

  Way to go on staying motivated!

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SASSYDREAMER 1/15/2012 7:49AM

    I'm so glad you've joined in on another challenge and that it's already challenged you in your thinking. I want to take a bit of time to think about your goals and what I might be able to offer in support.

Thank you for always being supportive. You are a gem!

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KRISZTA11 1/15/2012 7:20AM

    I loved the article at the end of your blog.

For me, making exercise and healthy eating a daily habit went very quite similar to the method described in the article, even if I lacked the scientific approach.
Eating the same foods is true for me too: I have about 30 favorite foods, 20 groupings and 10 recipes, and I very rarely add any other food to my nutrition tracker.

I noticed that doing my daily routine (meditation, cardio, strength training) is much easier before a working day, even if I have to leave at 7 a.m., than during holidays or week ends when I have the whole day.
Human nature is a miracle...

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What I loved in my 2011

Friday, January 06, 2012

Looking at it from the outside, 2011 was a silent year for me, I stayed in the same context for family, friends and profession.

However, as for myself, I lived trough one of the biggest transformations of my life.

Funnily, it was happening with minimal willpower.

I remember, by this time last year, I was busy collecting information on how to loose weight. I was inspired by an article on WSJ by Sue Shellenbarger, "How to keep a resolution", which I don't remember how I came across.

Based on the recommendations, instead of jump-starting my diet thing, I kept on eating and no-exercising, but instead was looking for books, websites, advices and so on. I was motivated to plan my way, think about rewards, and so on.

During this period, I came across an article on SP/ScienceDaily, which said that a group tracking the nutritional intake in a journal doubled their weight loss performance. OK, so this really has an impact. Let's do it. I'm not really a number-tracking person, or rather, I was not that time.
So, I started to look for alternatives on what type of tracking could work for me, paper, mobile phone, Excel sheet, website, and so on. After lot of comparison, I settled down on SP, it was quite an average, non-userfriendly website among the competition, but it was good enough in all aspects.

And from that point, I just followed the good advices from SP, keeping my approach from SS's article. And the kilos started to drop.

Then, after seeing an e-mail invitation in my sparkpeople inbox for 10 minute exercise per day, in May 2011, I said, 10 minutes, I can do that. So, I started with the 10 minutes. I didn't feel comfortable at all doing it, I had even higher resistance doing it than the nutrition tracking. But hey, facts say it has a result, why not to try it.

So, my life changed.
I eat healthy, carbohydrates come from 60-70% of my diet from raw fruits and vegetables. Something I like in this global World that fresh fruits and vegetables are also available in winter, for affordable.
My kitchen looks different, with salad bowls, measuring cups, motivational photos. And somehow, from a neutral place of my appartment, I become friends with my kitchen.
I do about 5000 kcal exercise every week, mainly running my daily 10-12K, swimming 1-2K, biking 1-2h, and some other exercise that comes along.
When I travel abroad, I like to explore new swimming pools, try local fruits, or go for a run with some local people.

And my body?
Yes, my body is different.

Not just my body changed, the way I perceive myself changed.
Loosing the 25 kg (55lbs) fat from my body is one thing.
How I enter a room, speak in front of a group, how I express myself - these are things that really changed.

What I want from life changed.

So, what did I love in my 2011 so much?
I wanted to change.
I did.
In a way, it was not much effort at all. Some tracking, some exercise.
Of course, I had to get out of my comfort zone a bit.
But I'm already comfortable with that.

I wrote a thank you not to Sue, she replied immediately.


How did you like your 2011?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DORIS32 1/16/2012 12:39PM

    You've had a great year! keep it up!

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GLOMER 1/7/2012 3:51PM

    Way to go! Sometimes someone or something just hits right! Happy 2012 and keep going!

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JOYFULSPIRIT920 1/7/2012 8:37AM

    Thanks for sharing the article, great read & good insights.
Congrats on all your success in 2011.
I wish you continued success for 2012 :)

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ZELLAZM 1/7/2012 8:26AM

    Great blog - interesting article! What a difference a year makes!

This has been a regrouping year for me, and the push to get my coursework for my master's finished has been a higher priority than weight loss. But, thanks to habits I've developed with the help of SP, I've maintained my weight and my exercise streak.

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LESLIE_2B_LESS 1/6/2012 11:58PM

    What a great blog & year! Great job Oliver on all that you accomplished this year. I loved looking at your pictures before & after. I really like that one where you look like you are freezing to death before a run! You look very trim & happy!

I love reading about your travels & all that you manage to do healthy wise in these cities. I look forward to more great stories from you this year. I'm so glad you are part of our Daisy team!


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MISSLORI5 1/6/2012 11:27PM

    This was a wonderful blog, Oliver! I am so glad you found SP when you needed it most! You have been a great sparkfriend and inspiration to me and the Daisies, for sure. Good luck with your future goals and desires for 2012!!!

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JONESINGAL 1/6/2012 9:53PM

    Great job on meeting your goals, Oliver! You look fantastic!

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KIMBERTA99 1/6/2012 7:55PM

    Oliver...did you ever take before pics??? You have certainly accomplished ALOT last year and you should be VERY proud...I know I am!! I am excited to see what you do this year!! You have shown that if you put forth the effort you will see the results...and you don't have to go overboard in working out to get the results. I think this really worked for you because you did exercises that you enjoyed!!

I pretty much stayed the same weight in 2011 and think that I might be happy with this weight and now I will focus more on strength to tone up and be stronger!

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SASSYDREAMER 1/6/2012 6:24PM


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KMICHA 1/6/2012 5:45PM

    Oliver, Love the reflection. You learned so much and came so far in 2011. Little changes can make a big difference! You are an inspiration! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PEPPYPATTI 1/6/2012 5:34PM

    emoticon Awesome blog!

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KRISZTA11 1/6/2012 5:21PM

    emoticon to your 2011, I hope 2012 will be just as good!

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KKINNEA 1/6/2012 4:28PM

    Awesome! I loved your retrospective and it really shows how making small changes can make a big difference. Let's have a great 2012!!

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SHOOPETTE 1/6/2012 3:53PM

    What a year! I am very happy happy for you!

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BEATLETOT 1/6/2012 3:51PM

    I'm really proud of you. And proud of me for knowing you! =)

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PARKERB2 1/6/2012 3:30PM

    You did it as I'm sure others sent you this: emoticon. Good luck for this year, 2012.

Comment edited on: 1/6/2012 3:31:13 PM

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ROCKINFOX 1/6/2012 3:26PM

    emoticon Keep up the great work in 2012!!

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Daily breakfast rules

Friday, December 30, 2011


This week we had to gain points by eating the morning breakfast every day. I thought this is easy for me, as I regularly start with breakfast every day.

I usually eat 30 or 50g of müsli (Granola), with low fat milk (0.5% fat), and some meat, fruits, or spread with Wasa. Usually I get 500-700 kcal for breakfast.

However, what gets sometimes forgotten, is to drink the two glasses of water after getting up. This is a basic, and I noticed that drinking during the holiday days is even more important. I don't drink, I get thirsty, then it goes away and turns into hunger, then craving for sweets. So it is better to drink. :-)

Here's a podcast that I liked on breakfast:
Nutrition Diva: Does Eating Breakfast Help with Weight Loss?


Otherwise, this week with all the holidays and travel was not easy for my healthy lifestyle.
On one hand it was far from perfect, I couldn't rack food every day, my exercises were shorter, and I have eaten far too many cookies, fatty dishes, and bakery.
On the other hand, if I compare this holiday with the last, this is really a quality improvement.
I had exercise every day, half an hour run, one hour swim, hour walk, or similar, not my full length or time, but I had a decent amount every day.
I had one or two meals per day in a healthy way, with salads, lots of vegetables and fruits, and when eating heavy food, although I ate more then my calorie budget, it was with moderation.
So, it was not perfect, but it was not catastrophy. It was about 60% healthy, and 40% non-healthy.

And there was quite some spreading the spark.
People got interested about my results, one even measured himself on my Omron bodyfat% scale, and might buy one for himself for motivation. I gave a SparkPeople cookbook as a present, and others got motivated to also go for a swim.

Today turned out to be super for exercise, here's today's accomplishments:
Walk 10 min/km: 70min 356kcal
Swimming: crawl 30min 419kcal
Swimming: breaststroke 30min 381kcal
Running: 5 min/km (jogging) 24min 381kcal
Total: 154 min, 1537 kcal

Running in the winter sun, near Gleisdorf, Austria:

Did you have a goal for the holidays?

How was your healthy life during the holidays?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KIMBERTA99 1/6/2012 3:01AM

    Way to go on staying in control!! When I get the chance to go home I inhale all the foods that I cannot get here..not a pretty site!! Think of this as a little break from you usual workout...I am sure your body liked the rest!

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SHOOPETTE 1/1/2012 5:49AM

    the cookbook is a very good idea!
I did ok for New year, two healthy meals as well and the last one at a party was a bit fatty (foie gras, magret de canards..) but I didn't drink alcohol and had veggies with the meat so all in all I think I did ok.

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LESLIE_2B_LESS 12/30/2011 11:13PM

    Great job on balancing things out during the holidays! I like the way you compared last years' to this years' and how much better you say you did! That's awesome!

WTG on spreading the Spark! I didn't think of giving a Spark cookbook for a gift - great idea!

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LAURIE9404 12/30/2011 9:54PM

    You did so much better than me this holiday season. I'm so impressed! I really woud have liked to be able to control myself and I'm going to need to do alot more than just drink water to keep my cravings at bay. You are doing so great! So motivating!

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ZELLAZM 12/30/2011 2:21PM

    It sounds like you found a pretty good balance over the holidays! The 10 breakfast points were easy for me, too, but I do want to start getting more protein during the first meal of the day. So far, I've been adding a big scoop of magerquark to my oatmeal or on top of my pancakes.

Happy "slide" into the New Year!

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ON2GOALS 12/30/2011 1:47PM

    How cool to be able to spread the Spark among family and friends! I like the way you were able to look back and compare this Christmas with last year's and note just how much better (healthier) this one was - not perfect, but a huge difference. Very happy for you.

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LISAINMS 12/30/2011 1:45PM

    Beautiful run! I think you did very well on your holiday time. It isn't always about being perfect, but making the best choices we can and to keep moving!

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KKINNEA 12/30/2011 12:25PM

    Sounds like you were pretty well able to stay on track for the holidays. My breakfast is usually the same day to day as well, except I eat oatmeal with strawberries and dark chocolate chips!

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KRISZTA11 12/30/2011 9:09AM

    Beautiful picture!

You did great during holidays!

It is interesting you don't desire to drink much in the morning.
I'm so thirsty each morning, I drink at least 2 cups before running/exercise and 2-3 more at breakfast.

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