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A Measure of Success; An Admission of Failure

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"It's the end of the of world as we know it, and I feel fine," so the song goes. REM's going too, if you've read the news lately, but I digress.

It's not the end of me OR my world. Even tho' I've had a really hard emotionally trying day. You know why? Because I learned something about my personal food eating triggers today - something I sort of knew, THOUGHT I knew, but I didn't really KNOW. And now, "I can see clearly now". OK, no more song lyrics.

Some background here - I used to be a paralegal. Wait....let me clarify: I used to be an "employed" paralegal with an ever growing waistline. I could wax nostalgic, but if you read my other blogs you'd know that I hit rock bottom in work, relationships, food intake, etc. All that knocked my self-esteem and false sense of stability right into the gutter. Somewhere in all that, I started laying on the pounds big time.

Fast forward almost a decade. Self-esteem slowly built back up from many small successes and a few big ones. New job, new friends, new realizations, etc. Weight loss from all the lovely stuff found on So I am at goal again, and I have rediscovered self-esteem and got my confidence back. Maybe it is best to say that things are back to a realistic level.

Here's the tripping up part that you've read this far to get to (and bless you for this): today, at traffic court mitigating a ticket which I didn't altogether deserve, I felt I failed miserably because my well honed yet somewhat rusty paralegal skills didn't manage to argue me completely out of the ticket. Nevermind that the judge kindly informed everyone in the courtroom before it all started that NO one was going to walk out alive. Still, I managed a considerable reduction in the fine. Should be a success, right?

I didn't see that small success. I saw the "perceived" failure instead. I went home licking my pretend wounds. The licking didn't stop. First it was the Hershey's. Then it was the Cheetos (where'd THOSE come from? I don't buy Cheetos...). Then it was old jelly on stale crackers. I was telling myself I deserved all this stuff as a reward for the pain of failure. When I got the plate of fajitas, it clicked.

Hmmmm. Let's do the math, shall we? In the past we have a paralegal under incredible familial and emotional stress who in all that, gains weight. In the present, we have a traffic ticket that doesn't get argued away by the aforementioned paralegal. In either time line, we are looking at a somewhat uncontrolled eating for solace. What two things look like the other?

That's where the proverbial fork hit the floor. I thought my triggers were boredom and abandonment issues. I just figured out it is all tied together. Never made the connection. Ok, ok it looks like it was all kind of apparent, but really, knowing something isn't the same as realizing it. This is a neverending, beautiful journey called Life that I am on, and I'm wasting time on the stupid little paper cuts of small failures. And I'm binding those paper cuts with bandaids of old jelly and stale crackers. This must stop.

So here is the moral of the story: my friends, when you find yourself having a bad day, remember there are two sides to every Allow yourself to pamper with non-food related items and allow yourself to do it flagrantly and consciously. When you are stressed out, take a breather, and see that piece of cake as the lame band-aid it really is. When you feel like you have lost all your self-esteem, give yourself a little pep-talk and remind yourself that your successes far exceed those very few setbacks.

OK here's more: that Hershey's bar will not provide a future - it goes in and comes right back out. What ever reward there is in food, it can only be by its very nature a transient and hollow one. Except, of course it leaves unwanted weight in its path.

What are your triggers? Are you willing to face them all even if they crop up at inopportune moments? When you find those triggers, remind yourself of what you are, of who you are, of how far you've come. You being aware of all your positive points and acknowledging them openly and consciously at least to yourself is IMPORTANT to see and conquer those triggers, whatever they may be! Seeing how those tiny failures have only occasionally tripped you up is important too, because you have to realize that they helped you become a stronger person.

So we fail. None of us are perfect. Big deal. All of us have lessons to learn and it won't stop just because we reached our weight goals. Let's make it a GOOD thing by seeing it in a positive light, stepping over those now much shorter obstacles, and keep moving ever forward. THIS is the ultimate reward.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NEEDBU66 4/19/2013 10:47AM

    wow! incredibly, gut wrenching honest. My hat is off, sister.

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    My triggers are stress and temptation. If I'm stressed out I'm in trouble. The same if I am exposed to things I have a weakness for.

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MZZCHIEF 11/15/2011 11:02AM

    Wonderful that you have come to a realization of what motivates your eating.

Me... my trigger is sight. I see it, if it tastes good, I want some. For most foods that's okay, I simply make meals from the foods I enjoy.

But there are certain foods that I simply can't have in the house, or I can only have them there in limited quantities.

KNowing this rule helps protect me from overeating things that might be tasty but are not good for anyone, if eaten in excess.

She says as she unshells another pistachio nut. haha
: )

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JULES92124 9/28/2011 2:20AM

    My triggers are a run in on the freeway or standing in line at the post office. It keys me up all day. I have to learn not to let strangers who are mean bother me. When I'm disorganized I eat out of frustration too. I try and drink water when I feel weakest. I make my husband hide his stash of cookies or not buy it at all because I can't have carbs around as I've admitted no self control. I totally identified with your stale cracker and old jelly story too…I'm amazed that I can literally create “bad” food out of thin air - even when there is no junk food in the house. emoticon

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Goal? The Game Is Afoot

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Goal weight. Makes my eyebrows knit just thinking about it. I've reached this, so now what? "Goal" as a word itself, is interesting. Hmm. "Touch Down"? No. The ball is still in play.

The game kicked off at a large point spread - starting at 185 pounds and losing a almost 20 in a most unhealthy manner when I finally committed to losing it using healthy methods. The score was higher before and I played at trying to lose it but was getting nowhere. One day it tackled me - I could no longer carry the ball. Literally. It was time to do something and round up my last bit of strength and give it the old college try.

OK, enough of the sports metaphors.

I've reached my 135 pounds after a long journey. It is exciting to reach this point, there is no doubt about that, and in more ways than one. Frankly, when I saw the scale, I cryed. It was a joyful cry, tinged with relief.

There was a lot of processing and self-discovery along the way. Alot of examination of personal motivations. If you've read my other blogs (bless you and I offer my sympathies), you'd know there was alot of luggage from before, from friends' reactions (and my own) to a weird relationship with the whole body image thing. However, none of these were so unique that we haven't all had to face them in our lives at one point or another.

What I've learned here is that it is not a goal that I've reached, not a number on a scale, or the clothing size I could buy (and now wear) but more of a turning point. It's just not over and for the rest of my life I have to make a choice about how I want to live.

The past is the past. I've relearned really, really good habits here, because of SparkPeople and because of all the information now being published by responsible authors and other bonefide weight loss groups. I learned about how the burdens we allow ourselves to carry in life can deeply effect our core, our decisions about our families, our relationships, and our food choices. I learned that some stuff just isn't worth carrying anymore and I've learned I had a choice of what I wanted to replace that stuff with, and that choice is healthy living.

In all this, it is apparent that the aforementioned stuff can't be just discarded. I believe it was Dr. Amen who said on his program (aired on the PBS Fund Raising activities the year before last - or maybe it was Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz or one of those other fad physicians) that when you have a bad habit and you choose to get rid of that habit, you have to replace it with some other activity. For me, this seems pretty on the mark. So I broke down some of the stuff I was carrying about my relationships with people and with food, saw the habits I had formed because of it, and I replaced each habit, one by one, with something healthy. It is important to say however, I'm not ignoring the underlying issues - I am simply re-directing my priorities and putting things into perspective.

A friend congratulated me yesterday and then in the midst of her praise, she asked me, "do you remember what it was like, before you started all this?" The question caught me by surprise. Frankly, I could not. I only had dim memories of trying to fit my size 14 butt into some other unrealistic size and then cursing China for sewing the sizes smaller. I am still wondering today what it was really like back then, but then do I really want to remember all that? It must've been pretty bad, because I was carrying alot of weight on fragile bones (or rather, my couch was carrying the load) and had a deep abiding respect for daytime soaps.

Now as a quasi-active person who turned off the soaps and got off the couch, I can think of no better way to live. I can breathe. I'm not sore from bending down. When I eat something, I don't finish the last bite with regret. My treadmill is actually paying for itself instead of being the clothesline for my delicates. I now know what an endorphin is (its like chocolate, only better). And most of all, I'm ready to move on.

Goal. It is not a score, but it IS evening the score. It is real, it is here now, and it is my turning point. Now, I'm ready for maintenance. Now, I am ready to realistically deal with the number on the scale. Now, I am ready to go clothes shopping to finally replace my baggy grandma pants. Now, I am ready to learn more about the foods I have chosen to eat and the foods I must now add to get my calorie and nutrition levels to maintenance levels.

I am ready, Coach. Send me into the game.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JBIEHL57 8/9/2011 12:31PM

    Great job! I am just starting my weight loss journey and everything you have written makes such good sense to me. I have a lot of work to do but it is time for me to be my own best friend. Thank you for all of your inspiration and please keep blogging and posting


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JULES92124 12/11/2010 8:40PM

    Will you be my coach? :-) Great Job!

I loved your post. It was one of your comments that stuck with me that “I had been at 170 before, so be aware.” That got me to 168.8 today. Thank you! Great hint. Replacing habits. Hmm that's a fascinating topic isn't it? I know it can be done because I've had to replace many. I suppose the positive behavior stuck when I started picking activities I really do love, from the heart. I'd then spend time and energy making them as easy to do as possible, as I'm procrastinator. Example: if I know I want to go on a jog, I'll get my stuff ready the night before, make sure I have my gym ID, the ipod is charged. I wake up, no excuses because it's easier since I'm good to go. Simplicity and organization is key when trying to start a new healthy habit. I hope thais helps. emoticon

Comment edited on: 12/11/2010 8:46:38 PM

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Bones to Pick Apart

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

So. Nearly there. Two and a half more physical pounds to go. Where is "there"? "There" is one place of peace within me, where the arguments about what I can have to eat or not no longer reside. Getting there is long process - a journey of self-discovery - that digs up all sorts of things.

I say "physical pounds" because there is a skeleton left to dig up and its a bit heavy.

If you have read my SparkPage you would know that I'd lost all the weight once before, only to very slowly gain it back because of what boils down to peer pressure. The peer pressure came from two people (one the instigator, the other her follower) whom I held very dearly in my life. Both would never admit their part in all this, even if they were aware of it.

I can only guess that because of their own problems, they couldn't accept me eating healthy and being my own newly stronger "self" around them. Their reaction to my weight loss was negatively dramatic and not the least bit supportive. Needless to say, it didn't work out well for the friendship when this, as well as other stuff that accumulated, hit the fan one last time.

Please bear with me here, as I piece all this together.

My ex-friends, whom I loved, flat out told me I was too skinny. They were overweight and in bad health, but I was too healthy - At 5'2", 37 years old, and 125 lbs., I was too skinny to them. After they quit telling me this verbally (when I told them lovingly to sod off), they spoke amongst themselves and gave me the stink eye. Now, I didn't see them as overweight or unhealthy, I just saw them with my heart at the time.

I remember a moment of truth when one of their chubby nieces who thought herself funny (and was some of the time) started a stand-up comedy routine regarding my "stick-figuredness" (as she put it) at the popcorn counter in a movie theatre when she thought I wasn't listening, involving all around her. Needless to say, this was just plain rude. And when I faced her about it, her aunt (the aforementioned instigator) took me aside and told me I was anorexic. Of course, even from a clinical standpoint, she was dead wrong. As a matter of fact, I ate more, and better, than she did. Maybe it was that she didn't like looking at me, or perhaps herself, and didn't like what it reminded her of, or of what she'd lost.

My doc, who was watching me like a hawk the whole time of my first weight-letting, said I was fine, my health was top notch, chemistry panels all at the norm. I asked him about the anorexia accusation and he laughed and firmly disagreed with the instigator's diagnosis. But to "them", who do you think they thought was right?

Well, after all the verbal and non-verbal brow-beating I broke down and started eating like they ate. This went on for eight years. Eight years, and I still hung on to the friendship because of what these people meant to me.

We have split and they've gone on to better lives and so have I (thank the gods). But at the time of the split, everything was very near back where it was before I even began losing weight in the first place. My endurance was gone and the chems the doc ordered came back dismal. I had to recover my health after that.

I have since worked hard to face myself, mostly, to figure out where my place in all this was. I take responsibility for how I felt and what I ate before the demise of that friendship and the related weight gain. I knew I had control over what and how much I ate, but I did what I knew made THEM more comfortable.

So with all that history behind me, I have clawed my way back out of the grave I dug for myself. Now, after many months of re-learning healthy eating habits and acquiring a few new contemporary skills, and SparkPeople, the weight is almost all back off again. The chems are back sharp, the endurance at the top. Yet that peer pressure still niggles at the back of my brain. There's that aforementioned skeleton.

OK. The skeleton emerges like...a dark emerging thing.

This last weekend, I attended a workshop. Many of the people I saw there I'd seen fairly recently and since that last time, I'd only lost about two pounds (yep, only two - I checked). They knew I was on a health journey and walked with me, supporting me, all the way so far. However, a couple of the reactions to seeing me after those two pounds brought that skeleton out of the grave. There were the compliments but then one or two seemed alarmed (or that is how I interpreted it). One even said she thought I should not lose any more weight. BAM!!! My skeleton's dry finger bone hit me in my heart. I was shocked at first at hearing this, and then reassured her my health was great and was being monitored, and that I only had a few more pounds to go. She relented and apologized, but did not give any real reason for her reaction nor did I wish to pry.

Don't get me wrong - there have been compliments, like "jeez, you look good", and the smiling "Hey Girl! Look at YOU!" and that sort of thing. I can tell those compliments from the eyebrows shooting heavenward, the glazed eyes, and the hushed lilt in their voices. I know it because as you remember from the prior ramblings herein, I'd had practice.

Now please keep in mind that my goal is 135 and at 5'2", that is reasonable for my age (now 50-ish). I'm not even quite there yet. According to doc, I could easily rethink my goal and work for 130 lbs. and still remain quite healthy as she says I am "bird-boned". I'm in a US size 8 for bloody sake, not a 6, a 4, or a 2. And there's plenty of puffy cheeks and cellulite to go around.

So I had to ask myself a number of questions here. Like, why their reaction? Or, WAS it a reaction on their part or MINE? Was I looking for this? Is it that they just now noticed? Is it again that they are reminded of their own health journeys? (Wow. As I write this, my left eye started twitching.) Or am I overreacting in self-defense?

Damn skeleton. It's nashing its teeth at me.

What is important here in MY reaction to this. Or, I should say, OUR reaction, because quite a few of us are in this same boat - people who don't support us or who can't handle their own skeletons, and we let them get to us.

Why did it hit me so hard when I got those recent reactions? Why did I have all these negative flashbacks and misinterpretations pop up? I can guess it is because I cared so much about those two women from before, and I care about the people who offered their opinions now. But enough is enough.

It is without a doubt that no person on this Earth has friends that will support them in ALL their endeavors. There will ALWAYS be a few that for whatever reasons, will not be able to handle change in either you or in themselves and will drag you down into the grave with their own skeletons. I have to learn to accept that, and realize that I must draw the line so that the reaction to it will not drag me anywhere.

We have to remain focused, people . What lines are we going to allow others to cross, when it comes to our own personal care? Mine must now be thick, at least for a while, because I now know I can overreact to even the slightest criticism about my weight. Still, only I know where my journey has taken me and what it will take to keep me healthy. But in any case, we do indeed need lines.

I can be supportive of my new friends' journeys now and love them for who they are. I can have friends who are dealing with their own skeletons here on SparkPeople and in other places. I will help them with words if they ask and with my heart to a reasonable degree if they need. But unless I want to again pick apart this skeleton in the future, I must continue on this journey alone or make the mistake of allowing others to help me dig my own grave.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MZZCHIEF 11/15/2011 11:32AM

    Enjoyed your post, it really does underscore how vulnerable we permit ourselves to be when it comes friends and family... or even the words of a stranger.

Me... I guess it comes from being in art school group critiques as a young girl, where no matter how good or bad your work was, there were always unexpected things said about it, some of them downright nasty. It served you well to get past your initial emotional reaction and reply to these comments with reason rather than with an emotional outburst or feeling bad about yourself.

Initially this was difficult, but with practice it became second nature.

I learnt to distinguish criticism, which is meant to be helpful, and is factual in nature (even if it did hurt)... from insult, which aimed to hurt, subjective and often false. It also made me have a sense of humor about my own failings and not take things so personally.

There's a quote attributed to Elenor Roosevelt which I recite to myself when I find myself um... backsliding? ha

" No one makes you feel badly, without your permission".

Glad you got rid of those friends who put up a fun house mirror to your objective reality about your form.

Be who you are...
Chose actions that express that and people who support you.
Easiest way to realize your dreams, although not alway do-able in this crazy world of ours.

: )

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CHRISNLEE14 12/1/2010 1:41PM

    A few people have acted shocked if I mentioned that I want to lose more weight. At the time, I was probably down about 30 or 40 pounds and weighed about 160 or 170. I didn't understand how they thought I didn't need to lose more weight. I've learned that the best way to interpret these comments is to realize that most people have the best intentions, even if they can't verbalize it propertly. The woman at the workshop who said you should not lose any more weight...that's just her way of saying that she thinks you look wonderful and in her opinion, you're perfect. There are no hidden innuendos. She's not trying to say that you are unhealthy. She's trying to say you are awesome. And, I've learned from experience not to tell people that I'm still trying to lose more weight because then they will start to worry that you have an unhealthy obsession with weight loss. Just let them compliment you when they notice, thank them, and move on.

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Let's Own Up

Monday, July 26, 2010

I am sadly amazed at the number of people on SparkPeople who have said they were on Jenny Craig or some other program, only to gain it back, yet NONE of them have come forward to say whether they made it all the way through the whole program or not, or how long it took to gain it back, or what they learned that positively changed their lives, even after they were asked directly.

So I will. I lost 50+ lbs on Jenny Craig. I admit it gladly. I learned oodles of good things from them and I implemented them because I didn't want to have to go through weight loss again. It took me 10 years to gain only part of it back. It happened because I decided I could go back to my old style of eating and portion sizes. That was my fault, not JC's.

So I gained back a few, but now I'm 10 lbs from my goal, using the Jenny Craig program in conjunction with SparkPeople. I've learned oodles from SparkPeople, and from Weight Watchers, and from books and videos, and from doing research on what the body does and what mine will do, over time. I made mistakes, I have bruises and cellulite, and I have victories, and saggy boobs (that will be a story for the future), like all the rest of us have.

After talking to a number of people (outside of SparkPeople), I found the ones who were successful in keeping it off after years were the ones who saw their respective weight loss programs through till they'd gone past the maintenance part of the program, or at least paid close attention to what they were doing. They learned about portion sizes and food content (yes, most of these programs teach this and some even give reading material on the subject). Those that weren't so successful had to quit because of expenses, self denial and excuses, or didn't use what they'd learned from the experience to carry them forward. Mostly tho', what I've seen here was that the major reason for people quitting their weight loss programs was the cost.

In comparison, although I haven't researched it to determine the numbers, I will say that I personally know several people who were on SparkPeople (the least expensive of any weight loss/maintenance system I ever heard of) who lost it and gained it back too. Or got only so far, then stopped. So cost is not the only major factor here.

We all know what needs to be done - we have to be able to hold our own. This means having to research your new lifestyle and implement the new habits, learn about food and how it effects you, and cover your own rear end with knowledge - YOUR knowledge, not just THEIRS. And for gods' sake, learn how to cook and DO it from time to time. This takes monumental effort, and the reason why the diet industry is the way it is (profitable), is that no one wants to make that effort.

Ultimately, the lifestyle these programs put forward for their maintenance is the same - eat healthy, exercise, and take care of yourself. Sounds simple, but its not. The failures lay in our personal lack of vigilance over care for our own health. It's our own fault - its just easier to blame others. Let's present the facts. We individually are responsible for what we do and what we eat and the consequences therefrom.

Some people who are at critical stages in their efforts depend on the objectivity of their Spark family and trust that the feedback they get is going to be a good tool to use. When you're on SparkPeople forums, be kind because you don't know who your words are going to effect. Don't bash or flame. And by all means, let's be honest with ourselves too, even if its just in private.

Let's own up.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RISENPHOENIX 7/26/2010 11:53PM

    I'm happy that you don't blame JC for your problems, I have found that so many people look directy to the program when really so much of it is based on will power, motivation and strength.

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The Gap Between the Couch and the Treadmill

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One of the problems with exercise is that we see it as if we were taking nasty tasting medicine or as a form of punishment (OK maybe that is personal - I blame my ex-gym teachers for that).

What we are learning here on SparkPeople and as adults, in general, is that ANY form of exercise is important and that it can be fun if we want it to be. We just have to find something we like to do.

However, I have yet to find an article, a book, or an exercise video for that matter, that talks about how to go from absolutely sedentary to somewhat sedentary, for those of us who are heavier or seriously out of shape. You see media coverage encouraging the generic majority about doing activities that just may be out of reach for some people. They feature skinny models and almost always involve doing something that is either too fast, too limber, or too athletic. It is just plain discouraging for the people who are likely to need it most.

A friend of mine, "Carolyn" (not her real name), weight over 340 pounds. She bought videos and watched them, then just got discouraged. Her chief complaint was even tho' the video trainer says, "go at your own pace" or "do as you can without pain", by the time Carolyn managed to do what they were doing, they were done and on to the next move! She gave up on the videos and just boxed them up and stored them away. This, my friends, was a wise move, but at the time she didn't know it.

This is what Carolyn out of desperation, did for herself. She once told me (paraphrased), "You can get something out of anything if you think enough about it. If someone just wanted to just watch TV or sit doing hobbies, or like others who can't go walk around the block because of whatever reason, then they might try this: stand up while they do it! Turn the telly on then stand and watch a program. Stand up to sew or knit (no running with scissors). Hey, it burns more calories standing than sitting."

This is exactly what Carolyn did. She "stood up for herself". Alot. She stood in cues. She stood when she waited for the bus (ignored the bench). She stood when she ate (they say this isn't good, but the trade off was worth it to her). She stood when she visited friends. She puttered around the house. She turned the TV on and she stood watching it. She said she would stand for a predefined number of minutes per day (cumulative), and she just committed to it daily.

And then one day, when Carolyn was bored of just standing, she headed out the door and began a whole new chapter in her life's book. After a while of walking, then walking further and further, she was feeling good enough to try one of those videos she'd stored up (however, she admits the yoga one is still beyond her). She is now down to 270 pounds and still dropping.

I thought about what Carolyn said. What I came up with, is that as far as standing goes, it is far better for your posture and for your back than rushing into trying to be Denise Austin or a yoga master in one day (let's face it, that leap from sedentary to video athlete just leads to burn-out, resentment, and too much chocolate).

Standing is something we all know how to do (we may not all be able to do it, but let's say most of us still can do it). It strengthens bones, and the natural tendency for people to get restless and bored standing around usually puts us in motion walking around. More calories burned here. Just when you feel the need to move around when you stand, then head out the door and around the block, and take it from there.

If a person cannot stand, then raise legs or arms alternately and build up from there. Do what you can, but just DO it, whatever it is. Use your brain and find what you can do FOR yourself and break it down into little goals if you have to.

The idea is simply gaining strength for your body. Yes, it is that simple. Begin at the beginning and just keep going. You do not have to be an athlete. You do not have to be a South Beach god or goddess. You just have to be YOU.

The hardest part is breaking the comfort zone. Once you "stand up for yourself", it is easier to go to "moving around" and then in time, to something else. Something else is your choice. Exercise, like life in general, is a natural progression.

And every little bit helps.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KINGDOMHEIR 12/1/2010 1:15PM

    Just ran across your blog after reading some posts on hating exercise. I've been one of those to exercise in spurts (2-3wks or months at a time) because something medical keeps popping up. I finally just got a pedometer a couple of months ago & just try to get up and walk around my office or apt whenever I think about it to add up the steps. I have also just met another sparker in my neighborhood & we are going to get together to take a walk in the park... great blog btw & an emoticon job by your friend Carolyn...pray both your journeys continue with blessings.

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SHEILAG1963 6/18/2010 7:38AM

    I stand most of the day at work, but never thought about doing it at home. I think I'll give it a try!

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DCRAFTY4 6/17/2010 6:23PM

    Your blog was very encouraging and motivated. Continue to be a support system to yourself and to others. How awesome. Good for you! Diane emoticon

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HYE101 6/16/2010 3:11PM

    Great ideas to encourage people not to give up.
Doing little things daily helps set you up to reach your goals .

Great blog. I really enjoyed reading it.

Have a great week !

Sam emoticon emoticon

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