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A message from my dear departed sister

Monday, December 19, 2011

This was posted on my sister's facebook page tonight:


by Wanda Bencke

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below

with tiny lights, like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular; please wipe away that tear,

for I am spending Christmas with Jesus this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,

but the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,

for it's beyond description, to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me. I see the pain inside your heart,

but I am not so far away. We really aren't apart.

So, be happy for me dear ones, for you know I'm spending Christmas with Jesus this year.

I send you each a special gift from my heavenly home above:

"My undying love!"

After all, "love" is the gift more precious than pure gold.

It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other as my Father said to do,

for I can't count the many blessings or love He has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.

Remember, I'm spending Christmas with Jesus this year.

(I found out later my nephew posted it) It's a beautiful poem and very comforting message to anyone who has lost a loved one and is struggling to cope right now.

I miss her so much, but I know that she is all around me, radiating love, wiping my tears, and wrapping herself around me to blanket me in peace.

I love you, Janet.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUZIEQIAM 1/27/2012 12:25PM

    I sent this in a picture frame to my best friend who lost her husband in October 2011. This poem has been going around in my family for about three years...I hope it is as much a comfort to you as it was for me. emoticon

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MAZZYR 12/21/2011 1:36PM


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LIV2RIDE 12/20/2011 2:13PM

    Very nice! Thanks for sharing with us.

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LIFEWALK 12/20/2011 9:18AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BURRITAELITA 12/20/2011 7:01AM

    In a strange and mysterious way, the people we love really are a part of us. You will always have her with you.

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WILD4STARS 12/20/2011 4:56AM

    Very touching. Thank you.

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JODROX 12/20/2011 12:27AM

    Thank you for sharing that. It is comforting.

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If only I could bottle it!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I don't know what on earth has happened to me! I'm feeling so fired up and enthusiastic about getting fit and healthy and slim!! Where does it come from? Where does it go when it's not there? I'm sure I don't know, but when it's here I have to keep nurturing it so it stays!

First off, last Monday at Weight Watchers meeting the topic was the Simply Fillng Technique. It's right up my ally! You don't have to track any food that's what they call a "Power Food". Power foods are: veggies, fruit, lean protein, non-fat dairy, and whole grains. PERFECT! That's how I want to eat forever (except for the dairy; I'm trying to eliminate it since I've been reading terrible things about dairy products). The only foods you track are non-power foods, and you get 49 pts. a week to use for them....not all that much, so it forces you to stick to the power foods. I decided to follow this instead of the regular point tracking. If nothing else, it breathed new fire into my motivation, which has been lacking for quite some time. I hope to end the up-and-down, gaining-losing the same 5 lbs. over and over.

So on Tuesday I ate mostly power foods and only used 6 of my points by the end of the day. I felt great! After I completed my 5 mile walk, I ate a big, beautiful salad for lunch; chock full of an assortment of different colorful veggies, with some goat cheese.

My dinner was broiled wild Atlantic salmon with cooked onion and mushrooms on top, baked sweet potato (a whole one!), and a mixture of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and summer squash.

It was so delicious and filling. So filling that I didn't eat anything else for the rest of the night.

At 7 pm was Zumba. I noticed how much more energy I had. I was keeping up with the instructor all the way through, where sometimes I slow down a bit by the second half hour. Could it be because of the food I was eating? All I know is that when I got home and plopped into a chair, it was a wonderful kind of exhaustion I felt. It was exhilerating!

Haha - here's a picture from our Zumbathon on November 17. I'm the one in the yellow shirt and gray pants and purple jinkle skirt.

Today, after I completed my 5 mile walk, I noticed on my pedometer that I finished it 3 minutes sooner than usual! I had steamed collards and butternut squash for lunch and am feeling satisfied. Zumba tonight is at 5:30 and I'm really looking forward to it.

I walk every day because I enjoy it so much. It does as much for me mentally and emotionally as it does physically. I love walking outdoors with my ipod, but soon it'll be too snowy/icey/bitter cold to go outside. I have a collection of 4 and 5 mile WATP DVDs that I'll do during winter.

I go to Zumba class 3 times a week. The class is an hour and it's very fast high intensity, plus many of the moves work the core muscles. I downloaded most of the songs from class and I now know a lot of the choreography by heart. So on the days I don't have class, I've started to do an hour of Zumba at home. Crazy, huh? Oh well, there are worst addictions.

I'm so glad I enjoy exercise. It's a gift I can't explain. It has saved me from gaining during my poor eating sprees. Imagine what will happen now that I'm doing better in that department.

Only time will tell, but I'm excited at the prospect of actually hitting my goal weight in 2012!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

1MRSCHRIS 1/1/2012 7:38AM

    Great, great post. Ww pills hilarious. Where do u come up with these things. Lol
Have a great day.

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SHANTISHANTI 12/16/2011 10:46AM

    Hi Mary,
I know exactly what you mean, when I'm on target...I'm right on, and when I'm off, I don't even know where "I" go! I love the WW diet pills, that cracked me up. Have a great day. Namaste, Mary Ann emoticon

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SHANTODD420 12/15/2011 3:12PM

    What a great blog Lifewalk shared it with me. I know what you mean with the ups and downs of weight loss. I have many of those myself this year. I love your ww pills lol I have to many of those myself.

Have a great day and a wondeful evening.


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MAZZYR 12/15/2011 7:02AM

    You're on your way, my dear friend. Finding what's right just for you is the secret, and lol the challenge.

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LIFEWALK 12/14/2011 7:27PM

    Oh my gosh Mary! Those WW pills!!! ROFLOLOLOLLLLLLLL Hysterical!

Love that yummy looking dinner! The Simply Fillng Technique sounds Sparktacular! Haven't heard of it, but that's really a huge step towards normal eating, methinks and helps us learn how to manage the rest in reasonable ways. Let us know how you like it!

Zumba!!! I get to go to a 90 mins this w/e by a different teacher (a Master's class), whatever that means... All I know is I'm excited & I agree, if only we could bottle this enthusiasm to use as a tonic for when it gets hard!

(hugs) SparkCheers! Zumba On!

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REBELBLITZ 12/14/2011 6:06PM

    You are eating healthy and exercising! What more is there? You are going to reach that 2012 goal! Can't wait to see that post that you made goal!

Good going!

Cheryl emoticon

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HEALTHY4ME 12/14/2011 4:54PM

    OH I so know you will!!! AWESOME and I like you wonder where that determination and all goes when we just stop... But use it while it is there and perhaps it will be habit and you will just love it. I am doing pretty good but still not good enough in veggies area. Only asking myself to try and also to think am I really hungry?

Yay have fun at Zumba, not good for my back or knees so dr and physio say. Still no word on the brace for my knee. oh well walking as far and as long as I can on the days I can!

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Those we love don't have to be exactly like us

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A friend emailed these pictures to me and I did a double-take....this cat looks EXACTLY like my Marvin!!!

So sweet, I just had to share!

And here's the REAL Marvin:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

1_AMAZING_WOMAN 12/17/2011 8:56AM

    It's so amazing the deer let your cat climb all over it.

Such cute pictures!

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REBELBLITZ 12/11/2011 12:12AM

    Thank you for sharing Marvin!

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LIFEWALK 12/10/2011 5:47PM

    awwww, how sweet is that???? thanks for sharing :)

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so sweet!
thanks for putting a smile on my face emoticon

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WILD4STARS 12/10/2011 12:24PM

    Beautiful, Thanks for sharing!

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MAZZYR 12/10/2011 11:47AM

    Beautiful pictures.

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DABLUECAT 12/10/2011 11:37AM

    Awww so cute! I have an orange male too. He's just coming 6 months. We call him Pip.

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Remembering my sweet little Emma

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Emma is our 6 year old orange tabby cat who went to her new home at the Rainbow Bridge on 12-5-11. emoticon She was unique and I'll never forget her.

DH found her as a kitten over at our farm the summer of 2005. It was a puzzle at first because there were no other kittens or mommie cat around. It was mid-June and I had been off somewhere. When I got home, I could hear a faint "meow" and tried to follow where it was coming from. There, sitting inside our shower stall was the cutest little kitten with the biggest and roundest eyes I'd ever seen.

I scooped her up and went out back where DH was working in the garden. He told me he found her and wasn't sure what to do with her. Of course, he KNEW I'd fall immediately in love with her and take care of her....and that I did.

I loved that she had 6 toes - they looked like little thumbs!

The mystery of her appearance was soon solved. About a month later, DH drove over to the farm where he had purchased feed for the cows. There, playing in the hay, were 3 little kittens that looked EXACTLY like Emma. DH figured that she had gotten up underneath the truck on the axle and rode all the way (about 5 miles) over to our farm, where she jumped off and discovered a new home. So looks like SHE chose US. And what a wonderful gift she was!

She and Marvin were pals. We had found Marvin as a kitten the summer before in 2004. They slept together and played together.

As a kitten, Emma loved to climb trees. I'd make DH get on a ladder to get her down, but realized soon that she could get down on her own just fine...she just liked it up there.

She was a fussy one. She wouldn't drink water out of a bowl. It had to be in a glass!

At times she could be as sweet as she could be, but she was a cat with a real attitude!

Emma liked to sleep in different places.

But in the last couple of years her favorite place was on my pillow. She'd always wait until I got into bed and then I'd hear the pitter patter of little feet and a gentle purr as she settled in by my head. She'd stay there until I got up.

Then she'd curl up in the warmth of where I'd been sleeping.

She was always a rotund, rolly poly, fat-bellied kitty. She became ill in December of last year. I knew something was wrong the first night that she didn't sleep on my pillow. She wouldn't leave the couch in the TV room upstairs. She wouldn't eat. Her eyes were always watering and she just slept all the time. I kept urging her to eat but she wouldn't. I'd sit by her with a cup of water and she did drink often. This went on for a week, and then a breakthrough when she started to eat. Next thing I knew, she was no longer on the couch...I was ecstatic to see her sitting in the hallway! She was getting up and moving around. She went back to regular eating and imagine my thrill in a few days when she was back sleeping on my pillow!

She did fine for the next few months. Then I noticed she was getting noticeably thinner. Her urine was very dark too. I had it tested at the vet's and it was determined she had some sort of infection. She took some antibiotics and seemed to be doing better. Then in late summer her urine was very dark again and she had lost even more weight. The vet ran bloodwork which determined she was losing protein. It was either from cancer or some sort of internal problem; either of which was not curable.

The vet gave me a steroid cream to put on the inside of her ears twice a day. She said that it could slow down what's going on and cats can go a long time with this treatment. I was so happy a month later when I took her back and she gained a whole pound. The vet thought that since she was doing so well, we could cut it down to once a day. When I took her back the next month, she'd lost a half a pound, so the vet said she should go back to twice a day. Emma hated getting the medicine. The vet had also said that the medicine could eventually cause diabetes.

After a month of giving her the medicine twice a day, Emma seemed to still be losing weight and now she was extremely lethargic. She'd sleep on my pillow only sporatically. It was time to get more meds, but when I weighed her she had lost another pound. I decided to do the kindest thing and let her go. It was the hardest, most gut-wrenching decision. But I knew it was the right one.

So now Emma lives in my heart and my memories. I don't want to think about her illness. I will always think of her as my beauty and appreciate the 6 years she was here with me.

The Rainbow Bridge
inspired by a Norse legend

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,

And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DABLUECAT 12/10/2011 11:40AM

    Awe this made me cry remembering my dearly departed gray cat. They can be so small but make such an impact on our hearts.

Thanks for sharing....

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HEALTHY4ME 12/7/2011 5:51PM

    She also looks like my dd cat, whos name is Gizmo too! I am glad you will have good memories of her.

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LIV2RIDE 12/7/2011 4:44PM

    My heart is breaking for you. Your Emma reminds me of my Gizmo. She follows me around, sleeps on my pillow, under my covers and drinks out of her own cup. She won't drink old water she wants the cup filled twice a day. My husband also has her addicted to cheese. Yes, it's an addiction to the point that if we are out of town even for a night his sister has to come over and feed her cheese.

Our dear pets are our families and mean so much to us. You will cherish the memories of Emma and bring them with you everywhere you go. emoticon

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WILD4STARS 12/7/2011 3:04PM

    What a wonderful tribute to your faithful friend. You had a very special furbaby and she had an exceptional mama!

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LIFEWALK 12/7/2011 2:58PM

    {{{oh Mary}}} what a sweet furbaby... I'm so glad she chose you. emoticon hugs~n~luvs

(ps, when I was a kidlet and wondered if furbabies went to heaven, someone told me no... I never accepted that, and awhile back a friend mentioned a book about why animals go to heaven; bible based, and written by theologians of different faiths... I never did buy the book but found comfort in the truth... and am comforted that my furbabies wait @ the rainbow bridge too, until we can all be together again... 1 of these days...)))

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    What a pretty kitty. emoticon Sorry that she is gone.

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DOGSRFIT 12/7/2011 11:49AM

    emoticonBeautiful tribute, what a wonderful life she had.

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MAZZYR 12/7/2011 11:37AM


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FRUITYCHERRY 12/7/2011 11:24AM

    Awe honey, Emma is so beautiful! I love her six toed paws, too. Orange kitties are my favorite. They are rare, and female ones are even MORE rare. Add in the 6-toe factor, and you had yourself a very special purr-baby. I love all the pictures of her sleeping and playing with the other cats. Very sweet. Our pets are beloved family members and it is hard to let them go. You did the right thing.


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caught in a web of confusion......no more

Friday, December 02, 2011

(This first paragraph was written after I finished writing my blog)

I have to warn you, this blog is very long. I started out just writing some thoughts I had, but it turned into sort of a rant because frankly I'm a little angry about being duped. I'm angry at all the years I've wasted, all the money I've spent, and all the gimmicks I've bought into. Actually, I'm past angry because now I feel empowered from all that I've learned. I no longer feel subject to somebody else's opinions on what I should or should not eat, how much, how often, and when. This blog is really for me. I just need to get some things off my chest and then forget about it and move on. I've learned so much from my 46 years of searching for the holy grail of weight loss. I'd like to think it wasn't all for naught. If you end up hanging in there and reading to the end, I hope you find something beneficial. Like Edison, I learned a lot from failures. Maybe right now, this day, I'm having MY light bulb moment.

There are so many "diets" out there, it can make your head spin! Wading through and following all the rules and restrictions is like getting caught in a maze.

The thing is, when you read about their systems and claims, many of them make sense in one way or another.....but they also contradict each other.

Popular diets rise and fall and come back around again, sometimes with slight modifications.

Remember when Atkins was the craze? No carbs (including healthy fruit & veggies), but you could have plenty of high protein and fat. A friend of mine following it lost weight really fast until she ended up in the ER with intense pain from diverticulitis. She almost lost part of her colonˇ­.and she gained the weight back just as quickly as she lost it.

So many people became ill from Atkins, or at the very least regained their weight, that the South Beach Diet was born which offered some of the same quick-loss principles as Atkins but with a little more flexibility. To me, it wasn't much better. Speaking of South Beach, it seems we searched all around the globe to find the right diet that would result in lasting thinness...there was the Mediterranean Diet, the Okinawa Diet, the "French Women Don't Get Fat" diet, to name a few. Sadly, some countries that once had predominantly thin populations are now suffering from obesity once American fast food restaurants and American processed foods entered in.

To me, one of the craziest diets recently is called the Dukan Diet. I believe it to be just another re-make of the Atkins diet. During the first phase, you eat only protein and weight loss is rapid. During the second phase, you alternate between days consuming just protein foods and days with proteins and vegetables. During phase 3, many carbohydrate foods such as pasta and white bread, as well as cheese, can be re-introduced plus you get two "anything goes" celebration meals a week. Regain is fairly typical, in which Dukan recommends you go back on phase 1. Does this sound like a recipe for a health crisis, or what?

Last year I tried the "No S Diet". The principle was pretty simple: no snacks or sugar on days that didn't start with an S. The problem for a compulsive snacker/sugar addict is that it's not so easy to go on and off certain foods like that.

I believe the healthiest diet of all is a plant-based diet. There are several "flavors" of this kind of diet: Eat to Live (Dr. Joel Fuhrman), the McDougal diet, Dr. Neal Barnard's "21-Day Kickstart", Rip Esselstyn's "Engine 2 Diet", Alicia Silverstone's "The Kind Diet", Kris Carr's "Crazy Sexy Diet", The Rave Diet (Mike Anderson), and The Perfect Formula Diet(Janice Stanger). With a few variations, they all say this: NO animal products (including eggs & dairy) and high amounts of fresh veggies ( particularly greens), fruits, beans & legumes. These diets don't focus as much on weight loss (although it is a nice benefit in that weight can drop dramatically if followed 100%). They stress the foods that protect your body from diseases. This approach makes the most sense to me and is pretty near perfect in healthy eating principles. My biggest problem is following it. I cannot tell you how many times I've tried and ended up feeling like a failure.

So I looked into the "Flexitarian Diet" by Dawn Jackson Blatner. It adopts a lot of principles of a vegetarian diet, but allows dairy and eggs and things like bread and pasta and natural sweeteners (such as honey, maple syrup, sucanet). A little more do-able, but still not a perfect fit for me.

I've also tried to follow Tosca Reno's "The Eat-Clean Diet". She allows animal products, but nothing processed or artificial. She also recommends eating 6 small meals a day and drinking LOTS of water (2-3 liters). Dr. Fuhrman recommends 3 hearty meals a day and no snacking or grazing. He also does not advocate drinking water other than to satisfy thirst because there is plenty of water contained in fresh fruits & veggies.

Our co-instructor at Zumba, Hilary, has recently lost 60 lbs. She looks so slim and fit that I wouldn't have believed she was ever heavy if I hadn't seen her before pic on facebook. I asked her if she lost all that weight from doing Zumba . She said yes definitely, but she also followed the " 17-day Diet". I was curious and interested, so I checked the book out at the library.

The 17 Day Diet includes four cycles:
- Accelerate - In this initial phase you dramatically reduce your intake of carbohydrates to promote fat burning, cleansing and rapid weight loss.
- Activate - This phase involves carbohydrate cycling, which has the purpose of resetting your metabolism to stimulate fat burning and prevent plateaus.
- Achieve - You reintroduce some previously restricted foods and will learn how to develop healthy eating habits.
- Arrive - The final phase allows you to maintain your goal weight by eating a healthy diet during the week and indulging in your favorite foods on the weekends.
During all of the four phases of the 17 day Diet there is an emphasis on clean eating and the avoidance of sugar and all processed foods. Sounds interesting, and Hilary has maintained her weight loss for almost a year. It doesn't sound to me like the accelerate cycle is very easy to do, although it's only for 17 days...still, it doesn't appeal to me.

When I was out walking a couple days ago, I ran into a friend who had been going to our Monday night Weight Watchers meeting. She wasn't there last week and she said she may not go back. For the past few weeks she'd been following a diet recommended by her chiropractor - the Paleo diet. The Paleo Diet limits food to lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. It's based on the diet habits during the times of hunting/gathering. On this diet, no dairy is allowed as well as processed food in any form, including cereal. I question the longevity of following this plan. As I have discovered from past experience, I don't do well with the elimination of certain foods for extended periods of time.

The million dollar question for me is: Can I do this forever? Because if the answer is NO, then why even start the process? Which diet is the best one? Answer: the one you can stick to.

There are just as many books written on non-diet approaches...some of the ones I've read are "The Overfed Head" - Rob Stevens (founder of thintuition)," Intuitive Eating" - Elyse Resch & Evelyn Tribole, "Eating Mindfully" - Susan Albers, "The Food is a Lie: The Truth is Within" - Bronwyn Marmo, "The Gabriel Method" - Jon Gabriel, "Skinny Girl" - Bethanny Frankel, "Think and Grow Thin With the Law of Attraction" - Kate Corbin, "Think Yourself Thin" - Debbie Johnson, "The Holistic Approach to Eatin"g - Jane Mountrose, "Shrink Yourself" - Roger Gould, MD. Then there are spiritually-based books such as "The Weigh Down Diet" - Gwen Shamblin, "Thin Within" - Judy Halliday & Arthur Halliday, "The Dieter's Prayer Book" - Heather Harpham Kapp, I like some of the basic concepts in these books; i.e., ditching the diet mentality altogether and using the power of your mind and spirit to naturally achieve thinness. These are the books that have come closest to giving me the most profound and effective information. But again, after reading all these books I still didn't have a complete AHA moment resulting in permanent change.

As you can see, I've read A LOT about the subject of weight loss. It's consumed me since my first diet when I was a 150-pound 14-year-old. In retrospect, I believe dieting is what has kept me fat. Over the past 46 years, my highest weight was 223 and my lowest was 160. During all those years it's gone up and down and up and down. I've been repeating the same mistake, only in different forms, over and over.

Besides all the"plans" I've attempted to follow from books, I've been on Weight Watchers multiple times (and am currently going to meetings with a lot of doubts about it). I have had much success with Weight Watchers when I followed it. I have also had a pattern of quitting mid-way to goal, mainly because of the cost and my desire to "do it on my own". Another thing I've always had a problem with is having to weigh and measure and track my food. It just seems to cause me to become overly focused on foodˇ­to the point of obsession.

In earlier years I also went to The Diet Workshop, the Diet Center, and Jenny Craig. I was successful on all of them, temporarily. What I liked about Jenny Craig is that I didn't have to measure or log my food and basically all the decisions were made for me regarding what I was going to eat. But the majority of what I ate was packaged processed Jenny Craig food. It was extremely expensive too. Again, whenever I left a program, the old habits reappeared and I gained all the weight back, sometimes more. I tried an all-woman's gym, Elaine Powers. That worked while I went but I couldn't keep it up financially and when I quit, my weight went back up. I never tried Curves, but I was tempted. I tried acupuncture. All I lost there was a lot of money. I tried hypnosis, once one-on-one and bought several different hypnosis tapes, CDs, and even a DVD. The only one I can say ever worked was Glenn Harrold's DVD. But as soon as I stopped watching it, the effects were gone.

Ah, if I had all of the money I've spent over the years in all things weight loss-related, I'd be sitting on a pretty big fortune right now!

What's a dieter to do?

Here's the other thing.....the word DIET has gotten a bad rap lately. The new buzzword is "lifestyle change". Even Weight Watchers has hopped on the bandwagon with that one in their advertisements. But, really, it's just a word. And if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, acts like a duck....

It used to be that the word "diet" merely meant "the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group". The dictionary now adds an additional definition of "a particular selection of food, especially as designed or prescribed to improve a person's physical condition or to prevent or treat a disease".

Most people now avoid using the word "lost" in terms of weight....because what is lost can be found again. So we've "dropped", "released", "got rid of", "shed" pounds. Our biggest fear in achieving a lower weight is that of gaining it all back. It's a valid fear, because statistics have shown that 98% of dieters do just that.

I think as a society we've become overly obssessed with food and thinness. At the same time that magazines put unrealistic body images all over its pages, it advertises foods that have been chemically engineered to make us want more and more (read David Kessler's book "The End of Overeating"). We're a fat nation suffering from all kinds of diet-related illnesses and are reaching out to a multi-billion dollar industry of weight loss plans, books, equipment, and various propaganda. This industry is taking our money and leaving us in worse shape than we started.

I can tell you this, all of my diet-related books are going to charity. The few that aren't all marked up with yellow highlight are being donated to the library. I don't need them anymore. I know my own truth and it has set me free.

So, it seems like I've raised more questions than answers. I wish I did have the ultimate answer because I would gladly give it to everyone for free. But the truth is, there is no set answer. Everyone is as individual and unique as a snowflake. For me, I have learned some of the things that don't work, as well as what has. Here's my own little summary:

1. Eat what you like. It's crazy to eat a food because you believe it will cause you to lose weight. I can't tell you how many times I forced down carrot/celery sticks and hard boiled eggs for the sake of weight loss. Food should be pleasurable. Having said that, there are a multitude of healthy foods that I find pleasurable. It's everyone's responsibility to come up with those foods that give them both nutrition and pleasure.

2. Eat in moderation. Eat when you're hungry/stop when you're full. I used to hate hearing that! Oh yeah, if I could do that, I wouldn't be in this spot! I know better than anyone that it's easier said than done. For me, the key is mindfulness and slowing down. I also need to steer clear of overly processed foods, which cause me to crave more. I'm not going to say that I'll ever completely give up sugar because I've tried that many times and it's always backfired. But I can say I'll never buy processed cakes, pies, cookies and snacks, etc. Instead, I will make my own baked goods with fresh ingredients and I'll make fruit sorbets in my Vitamix. Natural, God-made foods are always the best. My goal is to eat 80% natural and allow myself 20% of what I consider decadent foods. But if I'm going to spend my 20% allowance on something, it'd better be good! It has to be something that explodes with flavor on my tongue and makes me say "AHHH!" For example, instead of almost daily eating 95% fat free microwave popcorn (which honestly tastes like cardboard), I'd rather pop natural corn kernels in some oil on the stove and pour on a little melted real creamery butter as an occasional treat while watching a good movie (the operative word is occasional!).

3. Move-move-move. That means limiting my time sitting at the computer. It also means limiting TV time. I've simplified my TV-watching to those shows I get the most enjoyment fromˇ ­and for me, it hasn't been hard to pare it down significantly. Just getting up and doing housework, gardening, yard work, washing the car, playing with the dogs, etc., is stoking your metabolism. It's all about balance and it's all about choices. It's summed up in one word: discipline. Discipline is simply a regimen that develops or improves a skill. Habits are merely activities that you repeat over and over. You can discipline yourself to a regimen that is repeated and turned into a habit that you eventually do without even thinking about it. We created some of our bad habits in exactly the same way.

4. Exercise has to be fun. Otherwise, why bother? You won't stick to it if you hate doing it. Forcing yourself will only get you so far. Loving what you do offers longevity and consistency. I love music. When I paired music with walking by downloading favorite fast tunes on my ipod, I found my secret to success. I looked forward to listening to the music and the beat made me walk fast without even realizing it. Walking to my tunes became my healthy pleasure that I looked forward to every day. Then I discovered Zumba! I not only love music but I've always loved to dance (something my DH doesn't do and I've missed very much over the years). So now I've added another healthy addiction that I look forward to. Both walking and Zumba don't feel like exercise to me and the time I spend doing it goes by in a flash. That's the secret. It's different for everyone and you shouldn't have to force it. Do you like tennis or golf or some other sport? Do you love to swim? Does riding a bike give you joy? How about the relaxation and flexibility training of yoga? The simple question to ask is: Do I enjoy it? If not, keep searching... I know you'll find it.

That's it. In a nutshell, eat in moderation and get daily activity; eat what you love, do an exercise you love. That's what the naturally thin people have been doing for eons. Those are the people who have had the secret all along and we chose to look elsewhere for it.

As long as I am equipped with a positive attitude and follow those simple principles, I can cut the ball and chain of dieting "rules" that have been weighing me down. I can follow my own wisdom instead of always seeking another's opinion.

I'm free to stop dwelling on food & weight and start living the life I was meant to live.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

1_AMAZING_WOMAN 12/17/2011 9:21AM

    Wow! What a great blog. I’m not quite where you are yet; I’m still trying out ‘diets’. I am really trying to go the way of “Eat to Live” or “Meditarranian”, but the main thing is that I am kind of hanging in limbo right now. I am “in the process of becoming” whatever I am going to be. I am changing my life in ways that I know will increase my happiness, and happiness is the greatest weight loss tool there is.

Right now I cannot fully and honestly do ANY specific plan, and I am thinking I never will. I will take the best of what I have learned, and apply it as much as I can to my life without being too rigid. I will concentrate on progress - not perfection. My goal is to move more and do things I enjoy doing, and gradually improve the foods I put into my mouth. To make it a lifestyle of change instead of on and off various diets.

I have (3) 6 foot tall bookcases of various diet books and health information. I will be deleting some of them that I know I will never even consider the information from again, but there is a lot of information I refer to again and again in some of the books, so will be keeping them. I am adding new books such as vegetarian lifestyles and vegetarian cookbooks. I will be reading some of this material (while) I am walking the treadmill or on my exercise bike, so I am not as sedentary. I actually like the treadmill and exercise bike so that’s not a problem.

I know I do not have it in me any more to rigidly follow ANY diet plan. So, I will be trying to learn to live like a normal person. They don’t follow diet plans, and weigh and measure food. They eat what they want in reasonable portions, and quit eating when they are full. No problem. I used to be like that. Years and years ago.


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SHANTISHANTI 12/16/2011 11:04AM

    Hi Mary,
Wow, I could have written your blog...we've read many of the same books, tried the same food plans/diets, and have both been somewhat obsessed with "finding the answer." I am really going to carefully ponder what you've written here and over the weekend I'll come up with a plan that works for me, for the long term...for the rest of my life. Then...all I have to do is implement it. If I like the food I've included, no problem, and if I like the exercise/activity I've included, no problem. So, with this in mind, 2012 WILL be my/our year to "find the answer." Glad we are on this journey together! Namaste, Mary Ann

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TEMPEST272002 12/6/2011 11:41PM

    I am somewhat horrified that I'm famiiar with almost every diet you mentioned. We do diet after failed diet. It's no surprise so many of come to believe losing weight is impossible. I started losing weight when I stopped dieting and started acting out my mantra "make the healthiest choice possible". The wisdom is there inside of you. It's just a matter of listening to that quiet voice. Great blog.

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MAZZYR 12/4/2011 4:34AM

    Oh Mary, you nailed it for sure. Beautiful blog.

For me, I finally understand the need to include some form of exercise into my routine. Lol, I would rather starve than commit to an exercise plan, however, I finally get that it needs to be part of a healthy lifestyle for me. Eat less, move more, eat mindfully and establish a gratitude practice is my plan. Balance is my challenge. Good health is my goal.


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LIV2RIDE 12/3/2011 6:59PM

    Girlfriend, you nailed it. It's crazy how simple it all becomes when you strip away all the crap we have been told and have bought into over the years. I'm glad you have found a form of exercise that you love. It sure makes it worth doing.

This was a very well written blog. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I enjoyed reading them.

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REBELBLITZ 12/2/2011 7:53PM

    Mary your blog is fantastic. I could not have stated it better. I really want to try zumba. I love to dance and haven't in years. I used to go to Jazzercise for my dancing urge. I like the idea of the ipod when you walk too. I haven't done that yet. I seem to be on hyper alert watching and looking for stray dogs and maybe an unfriendly person. My doberman helps me tremendously in those areas when we walk.

Anyway, you have put everything in a nutshell about dieting/maintaining a healthy weight. I eat a plant based diet and I know that it is very healthy and I plan to continue with it. I also do not eat processed foods. I like to cook and try new vegan recipes. There are wonderful new recipes on the net and books that keep my creative urges going.

Thanks for sharing a wonderful blog.

Keep spreading the sunshine.


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HEALTHY4ME 12/2/2011 7:08PM

    I so agree, and did you read my blog today? I mentioned paleo or primal, I found the primal not too bad but as you say can you stick with it. I did end up saying eat less processed, and proper portions and not "mood" eat which is my hardest thing.
Moods and of course moving if I am in bad pain. Hoping the insurance will pay for the knee brace that is all bone on bone as not able to have surgery( not that I really want it but)

So I joined the 5% challenge this time around, and am hoping that I will stick with some of the things I promised myself. and yes you are right, eat healthy, homemade stuff, less processed and when you are physically hungry which isn't always easy to do.

Here we go together again! HUGS and glad you like zumba - I was told not to do it, at least not right now with my back and knees how they are. I have to lose 440-50 lbs to help my poor knees.
I will do well this month and will really envision 2012 as my year to reach my goal, healthy fit and toned!

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WILD4STARS 12/2/2011 6:59PM

    Great Blog. I have frequently said, "Focus on your health, let the weight loss be a bonus."

I think the older we get, the more we realize that good health is the REAL issue, not looking like an anorexic, air brushed, botox injected image in a lame magazine !!

You really are an inspiration to many !! Thank you.


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SHARON-MARIE 12/2/2011 4:01PM

  GREAT blog, HappyWalker!

I've been doing food and health research for 23 years. Because of my research, especially in the beginning, I've been very fortunate in that I've never been interested in trying any of the diets that you've mentioned above. In fact, I'm so intentionally out-of-the-loop with the latest diet on any given day throughout the years that I've not even heard of many of the ones you listed (same goes for the various book titles, as well).

I do believe in honest, objective and unbiased researched.

I'm a big proponent of people doing their *own* research.
And I'm also equally as passionate about bringing balance into everything; including how and what one eats.

For instance, for the most part, I eat fresh produce, whole grains, high-quality meats and eggs, and a little bit of other dairy. For the most part, I forgo packaged and/or processed foods. For the most part. I estimate that "for the most part" is about 85-95%.

There are some things that I specifically avoid because of what I have learned through my research in general and there are things that I avoid due to what I've learned through my research in combating seizures (I have a seizure history that goes back almost as long as I've been doing food and health research - the first seizure I had happened about 6 months into the beginning of my research).

America, for the most part, is a fast-food / pre-packaged food culture. If people could change just that one aspect of their lives, their quality of life would improve drastically.

There are no good quick fixes . . . it is the continual and conscious day-by-day way of life that is going to matter in the long run. And, being thin and unhealthy is still unhealthy. It really *does* matter what people eat and drink and it really *does* matter how someone achieves a weight-loss.

Be blessed,

ps - VitaMix rocks!

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LIFEWALK 12/2/2011 3:54PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticonMary, those are such real heartfelt truths, born of experience and knowledge of what does & doesn't work for you... It as if you have explored the ways & means and skills necessary to fly and are ready to soar... Hold onto these deep down inside your heart & we'll soar together :)

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