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Positivity is one of the best things about SP

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I had searched for a long time for an online community that was not plagued with ignorance and negativity. I am an elite member of yelp and I found whenever I went on their message boards there were trolls who spent their whole day bullying and belittling people. Same thing on WW website and a few others. A friend of mine was so viciously attacked on WW she closed her account. That kind of behavior is something I just don't understand. Why would you spend the time and energy to attack strangers on a webpage? Does it improve your life? It certainly doesn't help the victim in anyway. It makes me sad. My parents taught me to respect other people and their opinions. I know I am not the only one who was taught that? So why has the internet become a manners free zone?
SP surprised me because I have seen very little of that behavior here. Oddly it seems to be the recipe section that attracts the most negativity. Figures food is the thing we all fight about lol. Kind of ironic. Sure I have had a few negative comments on my blogs but it has only been a handful and considering the number of comments I have gotten that is probably a .0001 percentage of the comments. I will take that average! I try to stray away from religion and politics on here because that isn't what this site is about. Intolerance makes me insane. I really believe if you don't have a positive contribution to a conversation it really is better to not comment at all. I have noticed a lot of preachy blogs that condemn people for this method or that method. Particularly clean eating seems to receive a lot of venom. Why? Maybe drinking diet coke all day works for you but personally I don't get the soda thing. It is one of those things I ditched from my life and never looked back. If you want to suck down chemicals and additives and god knows what all day,that is cool, it is your body. Just because I disagree doesn't make it wrong. Because I choose to eat clean doesn't mean I am some kind of food nazi who can't enjoy food ever again. I genuinely enjoy eating this way. Doesn't mean I don't go to restaurants or enjoy an occasional indulgence. Yes, I can see myself eating like this for life. The point of what I am getting at is that we all do this differently and finding what works for me may not be what works for you. Instead of worrying about what is the "right way" why not be open minded and just support each other? I have received so many positive comments and emails and sparkgoodies. This is the strength of SP. Lets keep the positivity going instead of spending time tearing down this diet book or that weight loss plan. I respect we are all individuals with our own path. Thank you all for your positivity and support. It keeps me going!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MAIA2011 9/20/2010 3:07PM

    I, too, have had a nearly 100% positive experience on SP. In fact, there has only been one weird comment about cutting down my calories. I tried to start a conversation with the person who commented but she never responded. That was so weird because it is the exception rather than the rule. I am intrigued that the spark recipes are such a breeding ground for negativity. I am going to check it out right now!

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LUCKYDOGFARM 9/19/2010 12:25AM

    Amen!!! and i agree about the spark recipes. there are some pretty bad things happening there!

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.TARA. 9/18/2010 8:18PM

    I know exactly what you mean! I love the positivity here as well. :)

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BARBARAJ73 9/18/2010 4:02PM

    emoticon

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BELLALUCIA 9/18/2010 9:17AM

    Here here, my dear!

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SANDHSMOM 9/17/2010 10:27AM

    Love the positiveness.

emoticon

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MADEMCHE 9/17/2010 9:33AM

    Ashley you are such a strong and positive person that those views and comments come back to you! Positivity breeds positivity! It is your warm and friendly nature and your fantastic drive and care for other people that makes us all want to support you. So thank you for your support and encouragement! You rock girl, so glad I found you on here!

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JEREMY723 9/17/2010 8:39AM

    I couldn't agree more!

Eating healthy is just what I choose to do. If others want fast food, etc that's there choice. I still have my own problems, like way to much ice cream if I'm not careful.

My newest "problem" is peaches. On sale last week I honestly think I bought and ate 18 of them in the week. Not something I recommend, more variety probably better. They're more expensive this week, so that should help me:) lol

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KATHLOW 9/17/2010 8:17AM

    too right!

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TRACYZABELLE 9/17/2010 5:37AM

    I have not seen much either exceot in spark recipes, lol wierd huh!

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BTRTHANEVA 9/16/2010 9:19PM

    Amen, sista. Why can't we all just get along??? Share ideas, be nice and encouraging. Smile. It's so much easier than being negative... It creates harmony vs. stress. God knows, there's enough of that already in the world - we don't need to make it any harder on ourselves OR each other.

As a formerly hyper-sensitive, severely insecure person, I finally learned NOT to take things personally. I was very surprised to learn that the world does NOT evolve around me. So now, I just appreciate what everyone brings to the table. I'm trying NOT to judge, because most of the time, my perceptions have been wrong. Everyone has their own unique story that has made them who they are. If I'm confused or taken aback by someone - I will ask them in a positive, friendly manner to clarify it instead of assuming and getting my undies in a knot...

Thanks for another exceptional blog!

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HEALTHYONE2008 9/16/2010 8:52PM

    emoticon blog. You are so right about some of the other plans that have message boards, some of the people are so rude. There was one time that I was trying the get the point value of a meal that I ate at Red Lobster, went on the WW site and asked for help. One came back saying DEAD Lobster , will not eat there. I was really taken back that someone would say something like that, just because they may not like seafood , or eating at that restaurant.

So I say to you, just be yourself . Keep the blogs coming



Comment edited on: 9/16/2010 8:59:28 PM

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SHAWFAN 9/16/2010 7:11PM

    Great blog, and you are right about the positivity here on Sparks. When I do see a negative comment I stear away from that board and don't look back. I don't get a lot of time online anyway, so when I am online I'm usually reading articles, catching up with friends or checking out new recipes. I don't really post much on the message boards. Too much reading which takes up too much time.
Thanks for the great blog and keeping it positive! emoticon

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ALOFA0509 9/16/2010 5:07PM

   
Your Awsum!!! I love your Positive Energy-- Congrats on the weight loss,, OMG 66lbs GONE!!! AMAZING

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GRAMMY441 9/16/2010 4:53PM

    I couldn't agree with you more about attacks on WW'ers. I've experienced it myself. I love being on the Spark community and all the encouragement. Your story is inspiring! Why to go!

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MCSNYDER1 9/16/2010 4:46PM

    You are so right, Ashley. You know the old saying-"if you can't say something good, just don't say anything at all"--it still applies today---maybe more so to internet chatting because the true meaning behind words can be lost over the wires.

I always try to think before I say or type something--"Will any good come of this?, or "how is the other person going to feel about what I have to say?.

We are on a team together that does a lot of kidding and good-natured teasing (along with supporting, understanding, and prodding to get us off our butts). Even there, some posts and blogs have been misunderstood--taken as insults or attacks when that was not the intent. But to diliberately be rude, condescending, and hateful is a totally different matter!

Comment edited on: 9/16/2010 4:47:04 PM

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GIANTMICROBE 9/16/2010 4:27PM

    I actually quit SP a few years ago because of some very nasty comments on a message board post... I decided to try again and not go on the message boards so much, just find some friends and "hang out" with them, and write my blogs, read articles and such.

If I notice something in a blog post or message board post that I would have a negative comment about... I don't leave a comment.



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ALICALI 9/16/2010 1:14PM

    Hey Ash! You are right on! I love the positive energy on SP, and I love how supportive it is. What I love the most is being able to improve my health and meet new friends like you along the way. Keep up the blogs, they're great!

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 9/16/2010 12:37PM

    Like everyone else emoticon There is enough negativity in the world, why continue it in a place that we have all come to of our own free will? SP is a great place for people to be who they are and get great ideas from others having the same struggles. Great blog AShley!

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RIGBY31 9/16/2010 12:31PM

    Glad you mentioned the negativity on "OTHER" sites. I thought I was just being ultra-sensitive. I love this site. Sure, some people here just aren't my thing, but I always leave the page thinking... well there sure are ALOT of different people out there, we're all rowing in the same direction, just not in the same boat! Choose happiness!

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BRIAEL 9/16/2010 12:19PM

    Amen. You said that just perfectly. Freedom of choice. Individuals. Respect. Why is it SO hard for some to comprehend? :)

Clean Eating rocks. It works for me, too.

Keep smiling and that positivity will go full circle. :)

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POOKAQUEEN 9/16/2010 10:54AM

    Great blog.
I thing the problem with cyber bullying is the anonymity of it. Anyone can hide behind a username, where no one knows who they really are. Because it's just words on a screen, they don't see the pain their words can cause. And because it just words on a screen, people forget that they are talking to people. I think that's what's behind the positivity of SP. We never seem to forget that there's a person behind these words whose struggling like we are, with the same general goals.

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ANGELOO29 9/16/2010 10:24AM

    The community was what I was looking for and the positivity was a great perk! I think being part of this community is helping me to reach even further inside myself for willpower and confidence. Reading stories of success and knowing others are down at times helps me to feel like I'm not alone in this :)

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PELESJEWEL 9/16/2010 10:18AM

    I tend to notice "recurring themes, or patterns" and over the past couple of days, many of us are writing about the same things, stress, positivity, the Magic of Spark, overcoming plateaus, cooking. .. These themes are all part of our lives, so we gravitate, perhaps even seek out blogs that speak to what we are most seeking in our lives at that moment. Isn't it WONDERFUL that we can come to "SPARKLAND" to find it??

emoticon Have a POSITIVELY awesome day!

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MAMADWARF 9/16/2010 10:16AM

    Um, you dont "get the soda" thing? SIgh, we cant be friends anymore, obviously!
LOL, love ya Ashley!! Great blog, good points!

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DEBBIE19580 9/16/2010 10:07AM

    great blog ashley!!!! were all her to help eachother, and thats the way it should be, were all going thru the same thing,from what u said, i wouldnt want to be on any other site but sparks!!!! Have a great day!!! take care, deb emoticon

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RHONDA_11 9/16/2010 9:58AM

    Great blog! I was a member of WW online a couple of years ago and I was actually afraid to ask questions because of the meanies on there and I PAID for use of the website. So crazy. I love, love the positivity on SP! emoticon emoticon

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BETHV10 9/16/2010 9:56AM

    I agree that I love this site as well. I don't understand why some people feel the need to put others down just because they disagree. What works for me may not work for others.

I also used to be on the WW website and really didn't enjoy it other than the food tracking function. I love love love the many health articles that are constantly new on the site. I don't know how they do it, but I do love SP!

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HOPERISING 9/16/2010 9:48AM

    I absolutely agree. Before I found spark I tried posting on AOL's weightloss boards. It was all drama, all the time. I couldn't handle it.

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AEBROWNSON 9/16/2010 9:38AM

    Like emoticon

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SRABANTI 9/16/2010 9:22AM

    I totally agree with you. We often do not realise the power of positiveness. It keeps everyone going in here.

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SEESTARS 9/16/2010 9:19AM

    I have been marveling at this myself lately. Yay for Sparkers!

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DSJB9999 9/16/2010 9:16AM

    I agree, its so important to be positive and
the community are caring and someone
is always there for us!
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SMOCKON 9/16/2010 9:16AM

    I have truly enjoyed all the positive comments and encouragement I've received from you and other Sparkers. Have a great day!

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NEENSTER1 9/16/2010 9:00AM

    Yes indeed!! I agree there is more positivity and uplifting on SP. emoticon Have a positive day. emoticon

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MSILVER94 9/16/2010 8:59AM

    :) I definitely agree, everyone on here is so nice and positive!!! pleasantly surprising and encouraging. emoticon

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UHYEAHABOUTTHAT 9/16/2010 8:49AM

    I agree with you. I've never understood why people want to hurt others so often, especially over something trivial online. Are people really that starved for attention? I love how positive Sparkpeople is, all around. I've never come across such a caring, kind group of people and it all feels so geniune.
:) emoticon

Have a great day, today!!

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Compliments and Stress

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This morning I got dressed in some new clothes and I felt pretty good about how I looked. For the first time I feel like I don't look so heavy that I stand out. It feels strange to be worrying so much about my appearance but really exciting at the same time. When I got to work and I went into the kitchen for my usual good mornings to the chef's one of the girls came over to me and said "I have to tell you that yesterday and today you look so sexy and skinny and it is amazing how much you have changed". It made me feel so good. She always says what she thinks and I appreciate real genuine compliments. The coolest thing was not even an hour later I bumped into another one of the female chef's and she said "omg I haven't seen you in 2 weeks and you look amazing. I am so proud of you". She is super into fitness and we talk about it all the time so it meant a lot to me that she had noticed. I felt like a million dollars.
Then I proceeded to have an insanely stress filled day but I am doing so much better managing the stress than before. Honestly, I still want to eat to deal with it but I can talk myself out of it. Before I would have plowed through the entire bag of whatever candy was closest to me. Now I take one look at the candy and I think it isn't worth it. How I feel right now about myself is like a high I have never experienced. I was happy in so many other areas of my life and I just refused to deal with my weight it was like an anchor holding me back. I am so happy I have made the decision to live a healthy life. Everything is easier for me because I feel so much more confident.
Now onto the stress. Men are definitely taking notice and I have mixed feelings about it. It actually makes me kind of angry. Suddenly men are stopping to stare at me and then when I catch them staring they get all nervous and smile at me. One guy even tried to talk to me in my car and he called out something like "hey pretty lady" and I looked around for who he was hollering at. Yup, I didn't even think he could be talking to me. Men at stores and at counters are suddenly so much more helpful and nice. It really pisses me off because it makes me feel like weight shouldn't be such a huge deal. Did that extra 30 pounds really make me invisible? Make me less of a person? It feels so strange. Now granted, I am putting a lot more effort into my appearance in general but it doesn't change who I am in my heart and who I have always been. Uggh, I am sure that this is just my brain taking longer to catch up with my body and I will come to terms with it. All part of the process.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JO2TOM 9/18/2010 9:08AM

    Good job, Ashley. Looks like you are having fun and being healthy at the same time....imagine that!!! Hope you ahve a super weekend, and a great day today. I am at work, but I think it will be a good one...we are going to have a delivery this afternoon, and I am looking forward to that

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KJDOESLIFE 9/16/2010 4:07PM

    Part of it is appearance and part is attitude. If you think you are worth noticing, you will be noticed. A friendly face and positive attitude will always get more attention! Don't stress about it too much! :)

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SMOCKON 9/16/2010 9:24AM

    I don't think you were invisible before you lost weight. I think men just look at you DIFFERENTLY. It's a find-a-mate radar that is built into us. I agree with other posters that a more confident woman gives off some kind of "confidence pheromone" that attracts others. You'll have to get used to it because you look fabulous!! emoticon

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NEENSTER1 9/16/2010 8:54AM

    You go girl, You are just doing your thing right now. You deserve to be noticed. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I'm so proud of you with the choices not letting your anger tempt you to make unhealthy choices. emoticon

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ANGELOO29 9/16/2010 7:22AM

    I sooo get that - the guy in a car yelling - I had to look around to realize he was talking to me. It is unnerving after feeling like no one wanted to look at you to have all the attention. I definitely feel more exposed than before. Even more confused because most days I don't know how to deal with that attention.

Kudos on the compliments! It is SUCH A HIGH for the people who are around you frequently to give great praise. It means even more becuase you know they truly mean it! Keep it up :)

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GODDESSLIL80 9/16/2010 1:21AM

    You're doing great. You deserve those compliments.
As far as guys go, don't worry about them. You found someone who loves you no matter what your weight. The rest don't matter.

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PELESJEWEL 9/15/2010 10:42PM

    emoticon I learned a long time ago that confidence IS a woman's best accessory! You exude confidence now, it jumps out of your blogs, your pictures, so I can only imagine your essence in person! Be cognizant of the energy you give off, because Sister it is spark-a-licious. Like you said, it's new and exciting! Experiment with it! Have fun!

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COLD_GOLD 9/15/2010 10:32PM

    Hey... my friend and I were talking about just this very thing the other day.

She dresses very casually and in many layers and the one day she wore a "sexier" office-appropriate dress to work, she got soo many stares and compliments on her walk to work. I have had that feeling too and it is really unnerving.

I think that it is hard to reconcile the display of sexuality, public space, and our own self-image. Some of the advances can be really aggressive and disrespectful, and sometimes they are just unexpected. It's hard to know what to do with them.

In my friend's case, she has worked really hard to be really well educated and well-travelled and a really active community member. I wonder if she maybe felt that she couldn't be a sexual individual at the same time as being all of these other things.

Don't let these comments stop you! These are just other people's thoughts and biases and reactions. You have been working hard to be healthy for many deep and personal reasons.

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MCSNYDER1 9/15/2010 10:20PM

    Ashley, I know just what you mean about co-workers noticing the difference. A couple weeks ago, someone said my calves looked great and I floated on a cloud for days! I kept sneaking a look at my legs every time I passed a mirror!

As far as the men noticing, I don't think it means you looked bad before. I agree with Mezzoangel--you are now projecting a great deal of confidence because you feel so much better about yourself. Confidence can be very sexy!!! You are probably smiling more, holding your head higher and have a bounce in your step! Enjoy this--you have earned it!

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RJ-CYCLES 9/15/2010 9:54PM

    Congratulations Ashley - Today some co-workers mentioned to me they can see I've lost weight - today i crossed 20 lbs lost. I have a longer distance to go though, and this is for life.

Much of what you said regarding dealing with stress is in chapters 2 and 3 of the book "the spark" (changing our reaction to stress, like the good way you are doing) - by the guy who made spark people.com.

Great work!

Comment edited on: 9/15/2010 9:56:16 PM

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POOKAQUEEN 9/15/2010 9:25PM

    Congrats on all your success!
You are right, and when you think back, we all saw or still see it daily, if not directed at us, then directed at another lady in the store. It happens WAY to often. Unfortunately it's another sign of a superficial society. Ignore those people and keep being the beautiful person you are, inside and out!

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CREATINGJES 9/15/2010 9:24PM

    That is great that people are more helpful and nice! I remember that feeling and hating it, but if you are anything like me it isn't because of weight loss. For me it was because when I was heavier I wasn't as happy or friendly because I felt like an idiot. Once I started losing the weight I was happy, friendly, willing to make eye contact with people. I have heard from a lot of skinny girls that the only reason they glare at big girls is because they were glaring first. The only reason people are nice is because you are nice first. I don't know if that makes sense haha.

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LUCKYDOGFARM 9/15/2010 8:57PM

    emoticon emoticon

Great JOB!!!

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BTRTHANEVA 9/15/2010 8:49PM

    Feeling healthy never tasted so good! Keep up the great efforts, girlfriend. When other WOMAN compliment you, you can take that to the bank! The world is taking notice, Ashley. Even the males! No disrespect here, but men think differently than women do, and they act like animals or think with their *other* head. I'd rather have a man give me a wolf whistle over a finger any day! hehehe...

Own it girlfriend! Be proud of your hard work being noticed. It's all good!

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AEBROWNSON 9/15/2010 8:37PM

    I understand what you're saying about men noticing you where they didn't before. This also made me angry on a regular basis until I realized I didn't look at fat men as desirable dating possibilities, either. I guess I'm shallow, too! The important thing is what YOU feel...not what men think.

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MNGIRLIE 9/15/2010 8:35PM

    You take in all those comments and enjoy them! You deserve them for all the hard work you've done for yourself. I agree completely with the other ladies. You feel more confident in yourself lately and it shows! People see that and take notice.

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MOMTO3BOYZ2000 9/15/2010 8:34PM

    I understand how it can make you feel uncomfortable. Same thing for me. Yesterday I was at the grocery store and as I was leaving, one of the baggers said", You look really pretty today". While it was a nice and unexpected compliment, it made me feel like everybody is watching me now and I'm not sure how to deal with it. It's one thing when it's people you know and or are friends with....it's another when it's complete strangers.

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_COSMOPAULATAN_ 9/15/2010 8:13PM

    I really think it has to do with the confidence you must be exerting now, not the weight you have lost. emoticon

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JUST_SIMONE 9/15/2010 8:03PM

    I agree with SKINNYLOVELYME, that the women who are most attractive to men are the women who exude confidence. Also, women in love (and I know you are) tend to be more attractive to men than women who are looking to be loved. I do what you mean though, that it's not fair that we were invisible when we were heavier.

Congratulations about getting all the attention and compliments! It took a while before I started getting comments from people around me (like 30-40 pounds) and so when they started to notice, I've made a point of soaking up each and every compliment.

Be proud of how much you've accomplished, and keep working that confidence! And I pity the fools who didn't take notice of you before, but the man you are with is the one who saw the true gem in you, with or without the weight.

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KT-NICHOLS-13 9/15/2010 8:01PM

    It is fabulous when people notice and take a moment to let us know how well we are doing! New clothes, new outlook, you are looking and feeling like a million bucks.
I'm not sure it is always our weight that makes us invisible but how we carry it, mentally that is. Plus, physical attraction is different for everyone - it's not a one size fits all world out there. I used to remind myself of that all the time when I was 100 lbs heavier.



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SKINNYLOVELYME 9/15/2010 7:49PM

    This is a great blog. That's so cool when people finally notice changes.

I know what you mean about feeling more noticed at a slimmer weight. I think partly this IS strictly due to the fact that people often associate being thinner with being more attractive. (Don't even get me started on how stupid I think that is.)

BUT I think a definite part of being noticed is how a person holds herself. If you exude confidence, it's almost like you're saying - "Yeah, you can look at me. Scrutinize if you have to. I look good and I KNOW it." Basically the opposite of feeling (and being) invisible.

Well, all of that plus the fact that you ARE a pretty lady!





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Small victories= huge motivation

Monday, September 13, 2010

It all started Saturday night. My fiancÚ finally has weekends off with me so for our first Saturday together we went to the gym first thing in the AM (yeah for both of us, he is living healthy now too and I am so happy) and busted our butts. Then we went to do some electronics shopping for him because we really needed a huge home theatre thingy that I can't even figure out how to use the control emoticon. Then we went to Target and saw Machete, it was hubbies turn to pick the movie. It was awesome and a great social commentary which surprised me. So by that point we were STARVING and he wanted seafood. The restaurant was packed and the sushi place was closed to we went for Korean BBQ which I love! Mmmm Bulgogi and kimchi, nom nom nom. Dinner was fabulous but the tables are fixed into the floor with the grill in the middle. I used to have to squeeze in the booth and it made me feel self conscious. When I sat down I realized I barely am half way to the table now. I just stared at my lap in astonishment. Even he noticed it without me having to point it out. It was so amazing. Then this morning when I got up it felt like fall and I thought, YEAH I can wear boots today. I grabbed some new straight leg jeans a friend gave me and I started to put them on thinking they couldn't possibly fit yet. They fit perfect and were a tad big in the waist emoticon. When I looked in the mirror I realized for the first time I can remember since high school I could see my rib bones. WTF is that!? When I stand up straight and "engage my core" you can very clearly see rib bones sticking out under my bra. I did it about 20 times and just kept staring in amazement. I am going home tonight and running in and ripping off my shirt to show the man. This is one of the most exciting things I have experienced in recent history. Honestly, it surprises me at this weight I am having victories like this. I know I am tall but I feel like I am still way too heavy to be the size I am and seeing the bones etc that I am. Times like this make me think about why did I live so unhappy for so long?? I can't wait to see what the next 10 lbs off brings me?!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MADEMCHE 9/17/2010 9:27AM

    So happy for you Ash!

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KATHLOW 9/17/2010 8:20AM

    hope you had fun with the shirt ripping!

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SMOCKON 9/16/2010 9:29AM

    So much exciting news! As an old married woman (almost 21 yrs. of marriage), I can say that it is truly wonderful that your fiance is getting on board with healthy living. If you start your marriage that way, you will probably stick with it. Super thrilled about the great body you are uncovering!

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NEENSTER1 9/16/2010 8:46AM

    Absolutely wonderful isn't it. It is real what you are seeing. It is really happening, yes it is. It just doesn't seem like it is. I understand exactly how you are feeling. Being able to sit in a booth so smoothing that is results. Fitting into jeans you thought naw I can't possibly fit them yet. What a wonderful feeling it is to see all the results. Keep up the hard work. emoticon Be Encouraged. emoticon blog.

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ANGELOO29 9/16/2010 7:24AM

    Awesome!!

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TRACYZABELLE 9/15/2010 3:44AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SANDHSMOM 9/14/2010 11:36AM

    Whoo Hoo! Awesome!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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RHONDA_11 9/14/2010 11:04AM

    emoticon

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LORKAT 9/14/2010 10:54AM

  emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
You are doing so amazing! Keep up the great work!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CARILOUIE 9/13/2010 9:15PM

    You are just awesome. I loved the use of quotes around "engage my core" because I knew JUST what you meant. Ha!

My favorite part about getting healthy is the snowball effect of the little victories - today, rib bones, tomorrow, a new muscle, and soon... well who knows! That's the exciting part of this!

emoticon

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TEACHERANG 9/13/2010 8:42PM

    AWESOME! You're doing SO great -- keep up the great work!

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HEALTHYONE2008 9/13/2010 8:13PM

    emoticon Isn't it amazing how you can wake up one morning and be surprised at what you see. I remember one day when my husband went to give me a hung and found that his arms could encircle me. Was he ever shocked!

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BTRTHANEVA 9/13/2010 5:50PM

    Ashley ~
All your hard work is turning fat pounds into muscle pounds, which take up less space but weigh more! Lesson to this story - your scale only paints part of the picture. How you FEEL and how your clothes FIT beat the numbers on the scale any day!

BTW, why stop with tearing off your shirt! Go for the full monty! You might wind up burning off some extra calories... hehehehe

CONGRATULATIONS!! (to the both of you ~ it's great that your fiance is joining you on your quest!)

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PELESJEWEL 9/13/2010 4:25PM

    emoticon Awesome!! LOL on doing it 20X's just to make sure you weren't seeing things! Hubby commented last night that I have 4-pack Abs!! I ran to the mirror and looked, and yes....I actually saw slight definition of a 4-pack. I couldn't believe it! I'll take it!! Woo Hoo!

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FRECKS96 9/13/2010 4:06PM

    Yay!! So happy for you! Non-scale victories are the best!

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JENN26POINT2 9/13/2010 2:55PM

    HOORAY FOR NON-SCALE VICTORIES!! I've been looking for protruding bones too! I'm glad you found yours! :)

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CHICAT63 9/13/2010 2:50PM

    Woohoo, ripping off clothes is always fun *lol*. No seriously, every small victory is amazing. You are doing excellent keep it up, and oh have fun later on *wink*. emoticon emoticon

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HOPERISING 9/13/2010 2:49PM

    Rib bones? How awesome is that??? I've never seen my ribs. Ever. I can't wait for ribs and collar bones and hip bones. Woot!

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GAGEJ11 9/13/2010 2:14PM

    Hip Hip HOORAY for rib bones!!! congrats these are more than small accomplishments great work keep it up!!!

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LAURENJAMIE816 9/13/2010 2:12PM

    That is SO WONDERFUL!!!! You must be feeling so amazing and proud of yourself :) It's true, you don't realize the small things until all of the sudden it hits you in the face!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
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KISSIMS19 9/13/2010 1:37PM

    HOW EXCITING :) Congrats on all your victories this weekend!!!!!!! You are always an inspiration!

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SWELL10 9/13/2010 1:30PM

    Isn't it awesome! I noticed the other day that when I lay down I can feel my ribs and pelvic bones. Never could before! Yeah for these little victories!!! emoticon emoticon

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MAMADWARF 9/13/2010 1:16PM

    SOOO awesome Ashley!!!! Dont forget to yell,"RIB BONES, BITCH!" lol....

We saw Machete too, I was surprised by it and entertained as well. Lindsay Lohan needs to go away. She is pointless. LOL.

Enjoy the fall weather today and you are doing so great. I am so happy for these small rewards and being able to see progress! Makes it all worth it, doesnt it??

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LJRW170 9/13/2010 12:58PM

    That is fantastic!!!

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FLWRCHLD97 9/13/2010 12:53PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Great blog - thanks for your honesty and posting about your accomplishments. It's an encouragement to other sparkies :-)

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LUCKYDOGFARM 9/13/2010 12:53PM

    WooHoo! love skinny jeans that are too big and rib bones poking out! it's the little victories that help keep the motivation going!

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AEBROWNSON 9/13/2010 12:43PM

    At the gym last week I was laying on my stomach for an exercise, and my pelvic bones actually hurt me! No fat for protection!!!

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 9/13/2010 12:39PM

    Fantastic! Isn't it amazing when those little victories sometimes mean so much more than 2 lbs on the scale!?! I had a similar encounter at Taco Bell. I was terrified to sit in the booth, but that's all that was left. I slide right in and started giggling! It's an awesome feeling! We're going to do this!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GIANTMICROBE 9/13/2010 12:39PM

    All of that is too awesome for words. I too remember when I noticed the little things, it is an amazing feeling. Congratulations, you should be very proud of yourself!

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SPOOKYTHECAT 9/13/2010 12:36PM

    That is Such great news! emoticon & I need to hear good news today to keep motivated!

Keep going & good luck!! I wish we had Koren bbq where I live, because I've seen recipes online & it looks fabulous...


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5KLUKAT 9/13/2010 12:29PM

    That is awesome! Congrats on all your achievements!

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IMOM4GIRLS 9/13/2010 12:27PM

    Way to Go Ashley!! So proud of you! emoticon

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Relearning to Cook: Eggplant Parmesan (pics)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I have mentioned a few times that I have been thinking about a blog series regarding relearning to cook. For the past few weeks I have been thinking about how I want to do it because I didn''t to start something I couldn't finish or did half way etc. Last week I decided to get going on it and then I realized it was a holiday weekend and probably not the best time to start something new. So here it is, the very first relearning to cook blog.
You see, food is my life, literally. I am engaged to a chef, I write menu's for the catering company I work for as I run the corporate catering division, I plan parties and events and I love to cook at home. I am one of those weird people who love grocery shopping because I love to see what is new and available. It is actually relaxing. Don't even get me onto farmer's markets, it is my own idea of paradise, and I am a religious watcher of the food network.
When I started SP I got angry. I felt like I would have to give up my love of food and restaurants. Then one day I was standing at my stove grumbling to myself about being healthy and I thought, why am I not making this another food adventure? I put so much time and effort in food in general, why not just put that same energy into healthier foods? It isn't like this is something all of you don't think about as well. So here are my rules...
At first I was only going to alter recipes and make a comparison but honestly that is way too time consuming to do all the time so I will do that but I am also going to make existing recipes that claim to be healthy and see how they turn out.
I will rate them on a 1 to 5 scale for...
Taste
Visual appeal-who wants to eat something that looks like cat food?
Texture
Time to make-I also don't see myself spending 5 hours to cook something on a week day
Difficulty-both in skill level and in aquiring the ingredients
Portion Size- nothing is more annoying than realizing the portion was not filling at all
I will also post the recipe and photos.
I am always looking for good recipes so pass some along to me if you would like that you might feel deserve to be lightened or that you just think are pretty awesome.
Also please feel free to let me know any parameters you think deserve rating as well that are within reason.
Please remember cooking is not an exact science so feel free alter things anyway you think will work better for you. I chose Eggplant Parmesan because it sounds like it can't be healthy with cheese being in the title, it will provide me with several freezeable portions for work and nights I don't wish to cook, it is vegetarian and even though I am not I am eating at least 1 meal a week that way now (need to work on saving the planet and my health), and it got a killer rating on cooking light. So here we go.

Recipe: Yiels 10 servings, serving size is 1/10 of the pan
Eggplant:
2 large eggs, light beaten
1 Tbsp Water
2 cups whole wheat panko (I could not find these at a normal grocery store so I just used regular)
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 (1 lb) eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise into half inch-thick slices (I didn't bother to peel it as that is where most of the nutrition in eggplant exists and I like the taste of the peel)
cooking spray
Several people have mentioned not liking or never having tried Eggplant. You could certainly use zucchini or portabello mushrooms for a veggie substitute, or chicken breasts pounded out for a meat option. Just remember this will change your cooking times. I hate eggplant normally but for some reason I like eggplant parm.

Filling:
1/2 cup torn fresh basil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (if you family doesn't like spicy food leave this out, I did not think it added significant spice but if you aren't spicy people it isn't necessary)
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 (15oz) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 oz thawed and drained frozen spinach (this was not in the originial recipe but I just love spinach and I wanted to boost the nutritional value of this recipe)

Remaining Ingredients:
1 (24 oz) jar pasta sauce, I try not to use jarred things as much as possible to avoid sodium and sugar so I made the sauce myself. It was also a cooking light recipe and was DELICIOUS so if you want the recipe let me know and I will post it. If you don't have the time for sauce making Muir Glen makes great healthy sauces
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup finely grated fontina
(I bought a pregrated reduced fat italian cheese blend that worked great to save time and money on the last 2 cheeses, much easier and cheaper in my opinion. It was a 2 cup package and I just used half)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees bake.
2. To make eggplant combine 2 eggs and 1 Tbsp water in a shallow dish. Combine panko and 1/4 cup parm cheese in a second shallow bowl.

These eggplants where huge, I really only needed 1!

This is how thick I sliced it.
Dip eggplant in egg mix; dredge in panko mixture, press gently to make it stick. Place eggplant 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated in cooking spray.

Bake at 375 degree for 30 minutes or until golden brown, turning once and rotating baking sheets after 15 minutes.

Here is what it looks like all toasty brown.
3. To make filling combine basil through spinach in a medium sized bowl.

This is what it should look like
4. Assemble, spray 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and spoon 1/2 cup of sauce into bottom. Layer half of the eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Spinkle eggplant with salt. Top with about 3/4 cup of sauce; spread with half the ricotta mixture (I just used my hands to kind of smear it around, worked fine lol) and top with half of mozzarella cheese and fontina, repeat.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes to brown the cheese.

Finished Product

A serving
Nutritional values
Calories 310; fat 15.1; cholesterol 99 mg; calcium 365 mg; carbs 26.8g; sodium 655 mg; protein 19.3 g; fiber 4.8 g; iron 1.6 mg
Because I made the sauce this sodium value would be lower, the addition of the spinach would also increase the iron and fiber content but not significantly alter the calories.
Rating
Taste- 5, this was delicious, hardy and comforting. Even my fiance who never likes Italian food raved about it/
Visual appeal- 4, Looked yummy, like the traditional.
Time to make-3, It was very time consuming. The recipe overall with prep etc took over an hour so I would say this is not for a busy week night.
Difficulty-2 skill, 2 for difficulty in finding ingredients. While I wouldn't say this is basic cooking, I don't think it was at all difficult and a breeze for a good cook. The only thing I couldn't find at a local chain grocery store was the whole wheat panko. If I see some I might pick them up somewhere but just too much of a pain to track down.
Texture-5 just like the traditional.
Portion Size- When I read the recipe I thought the portion sounded kind of small but I was surprised by how filling it was. When I finished my piece I really didn't feel any hunger. Add a nice salad and this is more than a generous meal.
I plan to freeze the rest and take some for lunch.
Overall, for my first blog, I would say this is a keeper recipe!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

COOKWITHME65 9/27/2010 2:56AM

    Ashley, The eggplant parm looks delish. Would love your sauce recipe.

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URSULA125 9/25/2010 11:56AM

    I love your idea to have a relearning to cook blog. This looks delicious! I recently made a super simple and healthy version. It is very good, but I bet not nearly as special tasting as yours. emoticon

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SIMPLE_TAILOR 9/25/2010 10:22AM

    I made a healthier Egplant parm a couple months ago and it took forever (3 hrs) to make. It was worth it, but man, only on special occasions.

Have you tried any out of the freezer yet? This might be one of those things that you cook up a few meals ahead of time so that all you have to do on a busy evening is toss one in the oven while you are getting a few things done.

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PELESJEWEL 9/13/2010 4:21PM

    emoticon Looks yummy! Hubby makes a mean eggplant parm too! I'll have him take a look see at your recipe, maybe he'll get some 'slimming' ideas from it. I work with chinese eggplant alot, has a different taste believe it or not. Good stuff!

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FLWRCHLD97 9/13/2010 1:03PM

    I will have to try this, thanks!

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BROWNIEISLANDER 9/13/2010 12:57PM

    Great recipe...Just a bit different from ours over here...I'm an
Eggplant lover too!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CYNDER 9/13/2010 12:09PM

    Looks good. I love eggplant Parma, and will have to try this recipe.

And I'm looking forward to the relearning to cook series.

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BEANPARKER 9/13/2010 12:01PM

    I LOVE this! What a wonderful idea! That you chose Eggplant Parmesan must be a "sign" for me! I love Eggplant Parmesan but have never made it myself. But Friday I decided to buy an eggplant and try it, I will use you recipe tonight.

I need this blog desperately also, I need to learn to cook period! I have never been a fan of cooking and have been eating prepacked and fast food most of my life. I am retired now and have the time to learn.

Thanks again for taking the time to do this, I will be looking forward to each new blog!

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JO2TOM 9/13/2010 11:27AM

    This is a great idea, Ashley. I have an eggplant at home, and was planning to make vegetarian moussaka with it. Found a low fat (we'll see) recipe, and bought the ingredients over the weekend. Instead of working on the moussaka, I made a large crockpot of chili with tons of beans, and a pasta dish with turkey sausage, spinach and tomatoes. It was actually kind of bland (didn't add salt) but I put parmesan cheese on top, and thought maybe next time I should add more garlic. Will make the moussaka later today or Thursday since I work the next 2 days.

I am going to try this recipe with my next eggplant. I will let you know how the moussaka comes out.

Thanks a ton.
Joanne emoticon emoticon

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BETHV10 9/13/2010 11:25AM

    It looks and sounds great. I like eggplant so I'm going to have to try this. Thanks for doing all the work. I loved the pictures. emoticon

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ROMNEY3 9/13/2010 11:19AM

    So nice to know I am not the only one who finds the grocery store relaxing.

Love the recipe idea.

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SANDHSMOM 9/13/2010 11:07AM

    Love the blog idea and love the way you have decided to set it up with recipie, and ratings and most especially pictures. I live my life at the family bookstore (or so it feels) and I can tell you for certain that pictures sell a cookbook.

Loving it.
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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 9/13/2010 11:06AM

    I've tried eggplant and I'm not a fan, but this lokos delicious! I may have to give it a second chance, thanks!

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WORTHEYMOM 9/13/2010 11:05AM

    I think my family will have to try this recipe! It looks very yummy! Trying new food is a new thing in our house!

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MOMTO6PLUS2 9/13/2010 11:02AM

    "Relearning to cook" -- what a fabulous blog! And I know I can trust you-- you know what you're talking about.

I love to cook and bake-- and I cook a lot (in quantity too-- I have eight children :) There are so many things that either I've stopped making, or times when I make something different for *me* (which is a drag)-- and I've felt like I haven't had the energy to search out new recipes to test.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

I'll be making this-- most likely tomorrow. I have roma tomatoes that need to be used up-- and way too much basil in my garden!

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Laura

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HEALTHYASHLEY 9/13/2010 10:33AM

    Thanks everybody! If you don't like eggplant try zucchini or portabello mushrooms as a substitute or even use chicken breasts. Just pound them out thinner. Very easy to adapt the recipe.

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JENN26POINT2 9/13/2010 10:11AM

    I've never had eggplant before but you certainly make it look oh so appealing! Beautiful meal.

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MRSGOFARR 9/13/2010 9:59AM

    wow. i am going out to buy ingredients today. thank you so much for sharing.

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AEBROWNSON 9/13/2010 9:43AM

    It sounds delish! The only problem is that it makes 10 servings...I live alone, so even freezing most of it, I would be eating it alot! Maybe I'll halve the recipe...

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GIANTMICROBE 9/13/2010 8:10AM

    I have never had eggplant and I'm nervous to try it because everyone I know says it's horrible, and my boyfriend hates it so I couldn't cook it for the two of us.

It's very pretty though- it certainly LOOKS good!

I love spinach too, it's one of my favorite veggies!

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TRACYZABELLE 9/13/2010 1:08AM

    So where can we buy your illustrated cook book?? Awesome!

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LUCKYDOGFARM 9/12/2010 11:17PM

    Yummalicious! wonder what i could substitute for the eggplant? can't stand that part!

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HEALTHYONE2008 9/12/2010 10:19PM

    Looks great. You can cook for me anytime. emoticon

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HOPERISING 9/12/2010 10:11PM

    This looks soooo good. Wanna come be my personal chef??

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KATHYJO56 9/12/2010 10:01PM

    I printed your blog. Anything that looks that good, has to be delicious. What a great way to share something this important with us Sparkers. Thank you so much.

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RJ-CYCLES 9/12/2010 9:30PM

    That has to be delicious! Thank you for posting such a well thought out post with a great recipe!

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LOUFANJESSICA 9/12/2010 8:54PM

    Looks yummy! I have always kinda stayed away from eggplant because I'm not sure if I would like it or not but I'm seriously considering trying out this recipe. Thanks!

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MAMADWARF 9/12/2010 8:49PM

    Um I dont think I can tell you how excited I am for these blogs! recipes+pictures=Happy Jan! I love it! Thank you!

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MCSNYDER1 9/12/2010 8:47PM

    Looks delicious!!!

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SIMLIFY 9/12/2010 8:42PM

    OHHHHH! It looks absolutely wonderful!! emoticon

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New York Fashion Week Plus Size Show!

Friday, September 10, 2010

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/beauty/at-l
ast-new-york-fashion-week-caters-to-fu
ll-figured-women-with-an-all-plus-size
-show-2388854/

It is about time that we celebrate women's beauty regardless of a number on a label. How exciting!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRACYZABELLE 9/12/2010 2:53PM

    Sooooooooo exciting!~

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BTRTHANEVA 9/11/2010 8:37PM

    This is up there with the DOVE campaign which recognizes ALL women as being beautiful. As far as I'm concerned, beauty comes from within...



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MAMADWARF 9/11/2010 12:11AM

    awesome! about time!( have a great weekend, ashley!!)

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WORTHEYMOM 9/10/2010 1:36PM

    I too am glad to see that they are having a fashion show for us finally - but really a size 8 and up are plus - I don't think so people! No matter what size - we are all beautiful! emoticon

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LUCKYDOGFARM 9/10/2010 12:15PM

    that is great! now that i am a size 10, wow, i am still a plus size? that is crazy! Models should be more realistic, with lumps, bumps and curves just like the rest of us

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PELESJEWEL 9/10/2010 10:46AM

    emoticon I heard about the first ever Fashion Week PLUS SIZE show to be held at the Lincoln Center on 9/16. If I still lived in NJ I would totally be going to REPRESENT! It's about time!! I miss the East Coast!!! Waaaa emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/10/2010 10:48:02 AM

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AMOHAME2 9/10/2010 10:20AM

    I saw this story on the news and I was so excited! It's about time REAL women get celebrated for their REAL bodies and "haute couture" is no longer just for the slender no-curves women!

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HEALTHYASHLEY 9/10/2010 10:19AM

    I agree that the use of real women bothers me. We are all real and we should celebrate everyone.

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TYCA41458 9/10/2010 10:18AM

    Hey Ashley! Thanks for sharing this link! I'm so happy to see that they are doing something like this at long last! Did you read some of the comments??? I agree with a lot of the feelings that why did the author of the article call "plus size" women as "real" women? I think in order to be proud of who we are, we must also accept others the way they are, regardless of size... Rude and snarky size 00 they may be. Sorry, had to throw that one in.

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HEALTHYASHLEY 9/10/2010 10:18AM

    I agree that plus size is not a 10 or a 12. It is absurd.

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CYNDER 9/10/2010 9:57AM

    Likey emoticon

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40PLUSANDFIT 9/10/2010 9:47AM

    I know!!! Jody you are so right.. I can't believe that they would say size 8 is a plus... that's ridiculous, no wonder so many women have image problems. Good grief, I'm in an 8 and 10 and although I'm not SMOKING hot, I'm okay hot. I'm not PLUS size....

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JODY22002 9/10/2010 9:29AM

    I am glad to see that they are finally getting smart and looking to serve the average woman. If only they would stop saying everything size 8 and up is a plus size!!

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