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Old Me, New Me Goals Part II: The List

Friday, January 01, 2010

Without a lot of fanfare, here is my list of goals that apply to my health and physical well being with just a quick note:
I wanted to make these goals public for several reasons. First of all, I need accountability and feel like that is an important step in my hopes for success. Naturally, I recognize my own personal responsibility, especially when I'm home alone, bored, and know that there are Little Debbie cakes in the back of my pantry, but I would encourage any of you to check in with me regularly to see if I'm sticking with my plans. Secondly, as a novice goal setter, I welcome opinions from seasoned veterans. If you think my aspirations are too lofty or not specific enough, let me know. I value your input! Lastly to keep it fun, I thought I'd include a glimpse of the old me vs. the new me. Just to give you an idea of what I have to overcome...

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for being there to support me!!

Old me: Hmm lets see. Weight Watchers said the top of my goal range for someone 5'4 3/4 is 149. Well that makes my BMI in the overweight range, but oh well the government statistical nerds that set that thing for insurance purposes are unrealistic anyway. Ok I know I look best and feel best when eating to maintain 130 but it's too hard!!! I guess I'll just cut out carbs for a while and try to stay on the treadmill longer.
New me: I want to weigh 130. I know realistically weight fluctuates daily, so a two pound fluctuation in either direction is acceptable. This means I need to currently lose 7 pounds. Here is my breakdown:

EXERCISE: 6 days a week. 4 days of cardio, 2 days of strength training.
Old me: I got out of work 20 minutes late and so as not to get home too late, I'll do just 30 minutes of cardio and skip the strength training. You should rest your muscles anyway.
New me: I'll devote certain days to cardio, certain days to ST taking into account the days I am most likely to be detained at work:
Sunday: Day of rest
Monday: Run 30 minutes - 40 minutes with warm up and cool down
Tuesday: Strength train - 1/2 hour circuit
Wednesday: Free day. Do the elliptical which I love, or recumbent bike if I
have a good book. 30 minutes. 40 minutes with warm up and cool down.
Thursday: Run
Friday: Strength train
Saturday: Run
Tape: Yoga for beginners 2 evenings a week.
Stretch after each run.
Set up my treadmill in my basement so I can exercise at home if I can't make the gym for some reason.
Dig out the Spark People exercises with free weights that I printed off and use my 8 lb. weights if I can't go to the gym on a ST day.

Old me: Track food when it's convenient and easy. If I've eaten out at a restaurant and probably won't find what I ate in the tracker anyway, forget it.
New me: Track everything I eat daily:
Edit my favorites in the food tracker to weed out the one time items I
imported to make my favorites list more manageable.
Add my consistent food items to my favorites list for easier tracking
Track each meal while I'm eating it. Snacks can be tracked at the next meal.
Eat in the lower end of my calorie range until I lose my 7 pounds.
Cut out my evening snack, except for my milk, if necessary to keep the
calories down until I am at goal again.
Old me: Go to the grocery store usually on a weekend and buy what looks good, making menus on the wing.
New me: Menu plan Tuesday evenings when the sales are posted at the grocery store and dropped into my email box. Shop on Wednesdays when I don't work, Saturdays when I do.
Old me: I forgot to thaw any meat for dinner. Nothing looks good in my fridge. I'm too tired to fix anything. I didn't get to the grocery store. Honey, don't bother to make anything: Lets eat out!!
New me: Eat dinner out Fridays for our date night.
Lunch out Saturdays if we are out .
Lunch out Sundays if we go to see my father.

Old me: Coffee all morning and afternoon. Coffee as a dessert with something sweet. Diet coke at least once during the day and always at restaurants.
New me: Don't buy soda at the store.
Order water in restaurants.
Drink at least 8 oz. of milk daily preferably in the evening cold or warm.
Drink at least 64 oz. water daily (3 - 22 oz bottles)
Coffee only in the morning. De-caf tea the rest of the day.

Old me: Weigh every day that I've been eating good. Get depressed if the weight isn't down even though I ate poorly yesterday. If I have eaten poorly don't weigh until I've eaten good for a day.
New me: Weigh every Monday at the gym regardless of what I've eaten. Once a week. No more, no less.

Old me: I'm a runner. I run. I'm going to run a 5K sometime again. I don't feel like I can run 27 minutes straight today. I'll run until I feel too winded and then walk. I'll run until a certain song is done on my ipod and then walk.
New me: Train specifically for a 5K. Look into podcasts or the C25K program through
SP. Adjust running schedule accordingly if I opt to use this tool.
Run consistently at least 3 x a week.
Determine just exactly how many minutes I can run consecutively for what
distance at what pace and increase weekly until I can run 3.5 miles
Make Fitness Sports a bookmark on my computer. It's the local store where I buy my running shoes and they keep a list posted on their website of all upcoming running events in out area.
Join a Spark team just for people training to run a 5K.

Old Me: Go to bed at anywhere between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. depending on how late I am chatting, texting, emailing, checking my friend feed on SP. Wake up the next morning regretting that I stayed up so late. Whining because I have no energy. Drink more caffeine to help keep me boosted throughout the day.
New me: Let everyone from cyber friends to local friends and family know that
after 10 p.m. I am accessible only in an emergency.
Take out contacts and take off make up when I get home and out of work
After last snack: brush teeth, plug in phone, set alarm, wash face.
Restrict caffeine to before noon.
In bed by 10 p.m. Lights out by 10:30.

Old me: Blog when I feel particularly creative or funny or motivated. Fret about whether everyone liked it. Fret if I haven't felt creative, funny, or motivated in a while.
New me: Privately journal each evening before bed in the Planner section - even just a few sentences to keep emotional health and well being in check.
Set aside Sunday afternoons to blog. If I feel creative, funny, and motivated so be it.
If I don't, blog anyway. Writing makes me happy and I like to share with my Spark friends who seem to like me regardless -- Thanks to all of you!!!

There you have it. Just looking at that list seems daunting, especially when added to the many other goals I have related to budgeting, vacations, parents etc. But when I typed it up, minus the old me/new me comments, and posted it on my fridge, it seems doable.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

URSULA125 1/17/2010 4:35PM

    What a great post! I gues one reason we may not reach our goals is by not adding the "how." Thank you for motivating me!

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GO-SARA-GO 1/6/2010 9:32PM

    These are awesome goals!!! Way to go!! :)

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    LOVED this post. This is exactly how you will reach your goals! You can most certainly do it!

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JMATACZ 1/5/2010 7:02AM

    Wow, great set of goals and way to itemise everything so that you know exactly how you are going to achieve what you want to.

I love the saying "if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail". You just knocked that out of the park with your list and organisation ;)

All the best x

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ELISADEL 1/4/2010 2:39PM

    It's very well outlined!

My only concern is that if you try so much at once, you might exhaust your reserves of self control by the end of the day. I think it'd be fine to go ahead and try it as it is, but if you find yourself completely worn out by day's end and struggling, you might want to focus on a few things at a time.

Or you could try looking at the list and deciding what you'd like to make the first priority, and tell yourself "This one is what I MUST do during the next 3-4 weeks, everything else is nice to have and I'll do it when I can, but I won't let myself not do this" and then move more things to the must list as you get each one under control. (The no caffeine after noon and the setting an earlier bedtime ones you might just want to do together though, since they'll affect each other a lot. Drinking coffee as dessert after dinner makes 10 PM in bed a tough sell ;-) )

Great list though! I love your ambition, I wish I was so brave to tackle things that bluntly!

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    Boy, the segment on sleep sounds so much like me. I need to adopt your new practice in the new year myself to insure I get adequate sleep. Thank you!

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JAVAJO47 1/4/2010 11:28AM

    I really enjoyed viewing the old me/new me comparisons. Surely seeing this in writing has got to make you proud for the adjustments in both attitude and lifestyle. Good for you my friend! You will achieve these goals in 2010 because you have the right mindset and determination!

Here's to an awesome 2010!!
emoticon emoticon
Jo Ann

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BESTSUSIEYET 1/3/2010 11:48PM

    For a 'non-goal-setter' this is quite the list! Very good planning. I'll let you know if I come up with any kind of a list.

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SPYDERGYRL 1/3/2010 8:37PM

    I read your blog on the Denial is a River in Egypt like you mentioned. It helps to put things into perspective as does this blog. Thank you for your insights.

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DENRNAJ 1/3/2010 3:57PM

    You do not need luck. You have a plan. Never, never, never give up- you are a wonderful person who inspires me to do more, reach out more, do the things that I could not dream of in the past- I'm with you- Let's DO IT!

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HAPPYSOUL91 1/3/2010 11:20AM

    love how you did your goals - the old, the new. I also won't wish you luck because you determination and drive got you this far and you will continue on your road to success!

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/3/2010 12:54AM

    You're a person who will achieve whatever you set your mind to do. I have no intention of wishing you luck. (smiling) You're a doer who works hard at achieving goals, and luck has nothing to do with it. But, okay, best wishes for all good things in 2010. ( I didn't see the goal of visiting me in San Diego this year. (smiling) Don't forget to do that in the near future.)

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 1/2/2010 11:13AM

    Great goals!!!

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KITTYF54 1/2/2010 10:26AM

    I like your thoughts, esp the old me, new me comments. It's a LONG list, though and I worry that it would be hard to implement all of those goals at once, unless you are saying your already on your way with all of those. If not, perhaps you would be able to stick to them if you concentrate on one per month? Overloading yourself is the reason for so many NY Resolution failures. Hope you have a great New Year and get all your goals accomplished. Love, Kitty

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FRECKS96 1/2/2010 9:05AM

    Sounds Awesome! Great goals and I love how you broke down exactly what you need to change. Good Luck!

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MADDE3333 1/2/2010 5:11AM

    Certainly do wish you lots of luck in 2010! Without goals we have no direction and to be realistic adjustments can always be made -- not abandoned but enhanced if necessary. However, sounds pretty much like you created SMART goals...measurable, etc.

I will be in your corner cheering you and believing (knowing!) you can do anything you put your mind to....


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LOSINGITALL4ME 1/2/2010 12:03AM

    Those are great goal for you and I know you can achieve them. You are such an inspiration to beginners like me.

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RAINTHIEF 1/2/2010 12:01AM

    Great set of goals!! Looks like you have it all planned out and ready to go! Wooo!!

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DDOORN 1/1/2010 11:32PM

    Whew! You can be quite the taskmaster...! Not that these are over-the-top unrealistic...I KNOW you can do this! But what impresses me is the PRECISION of your goals and strategies! That is SO NOT ME! But I could probably use at least a good measure of this...hmmm....I've been reading everyone's goal ideas / plans, trying to pull together something that works for me...not there yet...


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CARRAND 1/1/2010 10:04PM

    You are being pretty ambitious, but if anyone can do it, you can. Just don't be too hard on yourself if you fall off your regime once in a while. Leave some room in your life to sit and do nothing if you feel like it. We'll all love you no matter what.


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LAURIE5658 1/1/2010 8:30PM

    I've got your back, Spark Sis!!! YOU know what you need to do and PLEASE PLEASE holler when you need support! Got that? By the way, your phone dialed me up yesterday...seriously. Julie's phone is always doing that cuz I guess I'm...well...popular like that. LOL

Here's to a great and Sparktastic 2010!!!

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I like the once a week weigh-in. It will cut a lot of anxiety from your life.

Happy New Year! XXX

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BARBARAROSE54 1/1/2010 7:30PM

    Great goals, good luck to you in reaching them.

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YARDWALKER 1/1/2010 7:13PM

    Great goals and great ways to achieve them! Kudos to you. I'll be checking back in to see how you are doing. Keep it up! Happy new Year.

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VXWALL1942 1/1/2010 7:02PM

    Thanks for sharing your internal processing of the goal setting process. A very thorough job; looks like you are on a winning track. Tracking and consistency are direct relatives to success. I'll enjoy watching and reading about your journey to this awesome place. You're in to win in 2010. Nice knowing you.

vicki emoticon

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DAYHIKER 1/1/2010 6:41PM

    That all seems very well thought out and doable, Joanne. I particularly liked the old me/new me contrasting thoughts. emoticon We do have to change a good bit of our thinking on this journey. I fully expect you to reach your goal though I don't think "luck" is going to have anything to do with it!

emoticon emoticonCindy

Comment edited on: 1/1/2010 6:42:22 PM

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Holy Moly I Set a Goaly!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Like everyone else it seems, the holidays were a busy time for me. After writing my last blog trip down memory lane with my Christmas decorations, I took some time off to read and enjoy other people's blogs. I was grateful that so many people took time out of their festivities to write, especially at Christmas because I certainly needed the extra inspiration and motivation.
But now that Christmas is over, I have started to feel the itch to write again myself. But what about? I was sitting at the computer the other day typing and deleting, typing and deleting. I just couldn't get into the groove. I've sort of gotten into the pattern of "story telling" and generally would like to continue that format, but coming up with a topic this time was a challenge. I had already written a confessional blog after Thanksgiving. Give it up, Joanne, I told myself. People want motivation not another tabloid insider report on me being caught with peanut brittle in my mouth!
In frustration I turned to my husband who, bless his heart, was taking down all the last vestiges of the the holiday decorations. "I'm having trouble writing my blog. I need a topic. I've got to have a theme. Help me!"
He looked up through artificial pine branches and said "What? Are you blogged up?
Try fiber! Works for me!" And with that he rolled around on the floor in the tinsel chortling "Blogged up! Get it? Fiber? Oh man, I kill me!"

I married a comedian...

I've been reading "The Spark" by Chris Downey, which, by the way, is a FANTASTIC book -- I highly recommend it! He goes into quite a bit of depth on the subject of goal setting. Very inspiring.

Hmm... I could blog about goals. Uh huh. Yes. Yes I could. But then I --
And you can hear a pin drop in the whole Spark World.
Here's a woman who actually lost 70 lbs. without really setting any specific goals. Oh I had loose aspirations. Exercise regularly. Eat low fat, high fiber, low sugar. But the hows and how oftens were left up to chance. Like a lot of things in my life, I muddled through the mine field of weight loss with a general lack of organization. That's the negative way of looking at it. I give credit to Nike for actually making me manage to feel positive about my lack of goals--
And that's exactly what I did. My husband is the same way. When he decided after 35 years of smoking to quit. He quit. No patches, pills, gums, or tapering down to a quit date for him. He just quit. For him it's the modis operendi he prefers.
If he can just "do it" and Nike sanctions it, it must be the way to go. And it worked for me.
However, I look back now and realize how lucky I was. Manys the time I sank without an anchor when I set sail on my weight loss journeys. I've blogged before about my yo-yo dieting pattern.
When I hit my desired weight 4 years ago and was faced with maintenance, I realized that keeping the weight off wasn't going to be any easier of a task. Yeah, you say to yourself, but now your good eating choices and exercise are habits. You've changed your lifestyle. Made routines.
True -- to an extent. But once the numbers on the scale quit declining and people quit gushing about how good you look, the motivation starts to dwindle. Maintenance is like doing the dishes. You know it needs to be done, but it's still a chore.

Finding SparkPeople.com was like discovering the land of milk and honey for me. I love the wonderful friends I've met and the inspiring stories I've read. Daily encouragement. The tools they provide -- and all at no cost -- are second to none on any other website that I've explored or even paid for. But I admit, I've been a little lazy about taking advantage of those tools like I should.
Maybe, just maybe, my maintenance efforts wouldn't seem like such a struggle if I used them consistently. Organized a little. Set some goals.
Now why this should be difficult, I don't know for the life of me. I am a nurse who at work, is highly organized and efficient. My work area is pristine. My charting is precise. I never compromise on sterile procedure.
I looked up at my husband who was now back to the serious task of dissembling our Christmas tree. "I'm thinking I need to set some goals. Not new years resolutions. These start now and if I slip, I don't won't need to wait for another new year to begin."
"Yup", he replied, "Sounds good".
"Do YOU ever set goals?" I asked. He stopped what he was doing for a moment, in thought. "Nope".
"Never?" I queried?
"Well maybe one. It's kind of an ongoing goal. But I actually need your assistance".
My mind was spinning with the possibilities and I hardly heard what he said. I was so inspired by "The Spark". I can do this I thought. Let my goals motivate me. I could plan rewards. I reached for my notebook and began to scribble notes and outlines.
I exited out of the now blank blog entry and hit the Microsoft word icon.
Diet, exercise, sleep, running, budget, vacation, parents, writing, poker...
The lists went on. I was careful to outline the big pictures and break them down into intermediate and even smaller easier goals. I was going to get some serious streaks going! Not so many as to overwhelm myself. Keep them within reach.
Excited, I ventured down stairs into the family room where my husband was now reclining on the sofa watching "Cops". Waving my notebook, doing a little victory dance, I plopped down on the end of the sofa and announced, "I made my goals!! Do you want to hear them???"
Briefly he looked at me like do I have to? But, wisely I might add, he dutifully turned off the television and sat up.
He managed to maintain eye contact and murmur Uh -Huh appropriately while I recited what I came up with. I was so proud that I had actually set these goals and wrote them down. I told him I was going to publish my goals to the WHOLE Spark community so I had some accountability too! I chatted away excitedly. I'm going to write one blog and then turn around and write part II detailing them in a few days, I told him.
He patted my leg and said "Good job! Um - are we done here"? He got up to go upstairs on a snack hunt. Suddenly I remembered that he had told me he was going to set a goal that required my assistance. "Wait! I didn't hear YOUR goal. Come on! Share with me!" I was pumped now. We'd help each other. Side by side. Goal setters! Watch what we can achieve!
Turning, he smiled.
"My goal? -- More sex."
He must have seen my face fall because he jabbed the air and pronounced "And THAT is precisely why I don't set goals -- they never get fulfilled!!"

Yep, I married a real comedian........

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ULTRAVIOLET75 1/19/2010 4:42PM

  I loved this blog-Very entertaining!

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BESTSUSIEYET 1/3/2010 11:35PM

    Love it - as usual! I was reading along, thinking (again) how much we have in common -- goal setting is just NOT my thing, and never has been. I just finally tonight came up with one for my Spark Page -- but it's pretty broad. Maybe when I get THE SPARK and read his goal-setting thoughts, I'll be inspired with something specific.

And then came the end of your blog ... (smiling here 'cause I thought he needed your help with the decorations). The anniversary card my hubby gave me a couple weeks ago says on the front in BIG letters: HOT SEX NOW! And we are enjoying working on that goal together.

Comment edited on: 1/3/2010 11:43:52 PM

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LIGHTHOUSE23 1/1/2010 9:58PM

    Joanne, I think it's great we married comedians. It keeps the marriage interesting. emoticon I try not to make goals. They usually fall by the way side. I like to just say what I'm going to do and then...do it. Most of the time, it works.

Though it would be nice to pick one or two things, now, and see if I can stick with it. I think I'll try it!

As always, I loved your blog!! emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/1/2010 10:03:33 PM

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LALAFLOWERS 1/1/2010 7:55PM

    Well... You know... you can take his goal on as one of yours... set your mind to blow his away... tire him out, and have him ask for mercy.... plus burn lots of calories in the process! I did get a great giggle out of your blog, as my Hubby would come up with a similar statement.... I'm sure!


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NIGHTSKYSTAR 1/1/2010 9:41AM

    hahahahhaha i think i love your husband...i want a picture of your face when he said that!!!

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MIRDREAMS 12/31/2009 9:57AM

    Nope, actually it burns calories. And releases endorphins. You can see, he just wants to do it for your health.

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CARRAND 12/30/2009 4:51PM

    I like your husband's goal. Sex is one of the few things in life better than food, and it's not fattening!


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BARBARA_G 12/30/2009 10:55AM

    You did marry a comedian. He is too funny! I got a really good laugh out of this blog. Thank You! I wish you and your husband good luck on your goals.

Happy NewYear,

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JUSTLYLE 12/29/2009 10:51PM

    Sure enjoyed your blog, great inspiration. I loved the banter back and forth with the other half. Life has to be full of fun.
I too have been poor on goals, might have to take another look at them.
Have a great New Year.
Skeeter emoticon

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DDOORN 12/29/2009 10:34PM

    You know...been struggling with this whole *GOAL* thing myself lately...

There's nothing like nailing a goal that really SPARKS and REVS a body up!

Hoping when the holiday dust settles I'll be honing in on at least one or two goals to light me up like a Christmas tree throughout the year ahead!


ps...oh! and if you haven't been following her blogs, I HIGHLY recommend everyone keep an eye on 4A-HEALTHY-BMI...she is an AMAZING example of what SP is all about and MAINTENANCE is one of her top priorities these days.

Comment edited on: 12/29/2009 10:39:14 PM

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DAYHIKER 12/29/2009 7:02PM

    Loved this blog, Joanne! I have been missing your blogs! I love your husband's sense of humor which is much like my own but it's not as much fun when you then have to explain my humor to hubby. emoticon I also like this quote:
"Maintenance is like doing the dishes. You know it needs to be done, but it's still a chore. " Ohhhhh so sadly true!!

Looking forward to Part II emoticon


Comment edited on: 12/29/2009 7:03:47 PM

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LAURIE5658 12/29/2009 11:47AM

    Remember my "The Coat" blog? yea...that one. Men can be so endearing. LOL

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VXWALL1942 12/29/2009 11:30AM

    Thoroughly enjoyed the blog. Goal setting.......hmmmm. What a novel idea. You mean I can PLAN to succeed by 'the book'? Think I'm gonna enjoy this. The surprises w/o goals have been sort of ho hum.

Tell your husband he's a hoot! I have a husband like that. He's 76 going on 17.

Happy New Year! I'm off to get my fiber.

vicki emoticon

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THEQUEENBEE333 12/29/2009 11:23AM

    Your husband sounds a lot like mine! :-)
have a great week and a fabulous New Year.

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TRINITY4001 12/29/2009 10:41AM

    Loved this blog. Your husband's goal sounds exactly like what my husband would say...apparently age doesn't change that! (He will be 60 in a few days).

Your post has inspired me to write about my goals in my blog.

Here's my very first goal: I will go out and buy The Spark today! emoticon emoticon

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1972ROSES 12/29/2009 9:43AM

    Blogged up? I would have been rolling on the floor too.

Good for you on trying something new. Maybe it will make maintenance seem like less of a chore.

Good Luck

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WISLNDR 12/29/2009 7:04AM

    Men can be so supportive . . . . . . You know, deep down, he's thinking about this. The seeds have been planted!

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YARDWALKER 12/29/2009 6:09AM

    OMG I loved this! Your blogs are always so well written, entertaining and motivating. I love reading what you write always! thank you for sharing. Oh, and you have a pretty wonderful sense of humour yourself.

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DENRNAJ 12/29/2009 5:33AM

    Can't wait to read part 2.
I have decided to break down my goals. I tend to want to have the goal- "lose 60 lbs". Instead I am starting with the simple easy to do and am going to define some small rewards on the way as I meet them.
Thank you for the inspiration!!!

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RAINTHIEF 12/29/2009 12:27AM

    Loved the blog. I think my husband has a similar sense of humor to yours. emoticon

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KUANGIE 12/28/2009 11:17PM

    Funny- sounds like my hubby!

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ERMAC22 12/28/2009 11:13PM

    I laughed out loud at this post! Your husband is too funny :)

I feel a bit the same way after the holidays and with the "new year" coming quickly. I've lost 40 pounds on my own, without any major goals, but I know that I really need to step it up again. I'm happy to have some running goals, but want to add some more holistic and fun goals too! I'm excited to read this and see your goals for the year! emoticon

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TWEETYKC00 12/28/2009 10:52PM

    don't worry too much, everyone is different! just set your pwn pace and try to stick with it, we're here for you!

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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

As we came to the last month in 2009 I could only heave a big sigh of relief. This seemed like one of our busiest, most stressful years on record. A lot of it has been good stress but some of it has just plain been STRESS. We had been living in a big older brick home with lot's of character, charm, -- and upkeep. We decided to to move to a town home last spring and quickly found one we loved. We went ahead and purchased it in March anticipating that we would sell our house within a few months. We are just now selling it...
My 95 year old father whom had lived with us until 1 1/2 years ago spent the last year in a nursing home and we've watched his mental state decline almost as quickly as his savings account. This fall we were faced with finding care for him that he could afford on his social security and veteran's pension. Finally this month he was accepted and moved into the Iowa Veteran's Home -- an hour away from us...
With all this, plus caring for my husband's elderly mother, the holidays just sneaked up on us. My husband and I talked about it. Two grown kids, five grandkids, ten nieces and nephews. They all get money I declared. I don't have time or energy to shop! Decorating? Did we even know where our Christmas tree was, I wondered? We still have stacks of boxes full of stuff for me to sort in our basement and a storage unit full of even more stuff accumulated over 34 years of marriage. I suggested that we get just a little pre-decorated tree at the Walmart and stick it on an end table in the corner and call it a day. I'd still "do" Christmas Eve for all the nieces and nephews but way pared down, I guess. In other words --
My husband, who is less prone to sentimentality than I am, surprised me. He insisted that he wanted -- needed to put up the Christmas tree and decorate it. He offered to go to the storage unit and hunt through the boxes and find everything. True to his word, last Saturday he came in carrying cartons, crates, and boxes of faux evergreens, stockings, candles, lights, and figurines. I sighed and put on some Christmas music and a fresh pot of coffee.
Carefully, I started to unfold newspaper wrapped ornaments. My husband held up a tabletop ceramic Christmas tree and asked did I remember it. Wow, I told him. I didn't know my dad still had this. Back in the early 1970's when I had the two boys fourteen months apart, I stayed home to take care of them and desperate for adult conversation and a chance to get out from the house, I took a ceramics class one evening a week, while my husband watched the boys. It seemed like with just one income we were living on a shoestring. Greenware, paint, and firing fees all added up quickly, so I decided that for Christmas that year everyone got a homemade gift. I picked out the tree for my mom and dad and carefully I sanded and filed out all the little holes where little plastic bulbs fit in and would be illuminated by a lamp base. I could only afford one color of paint, so I painted the whole tree, stand and everything a rich dark evergreen. They loved that tree and every year they brought it out along with the little METAL (tells you how long ago that was) Bandaid box of plastic bulbs and assembled the tree. One by one, I set them in the holes and turned the switch amazed when all the little lights sparkled just like the first year my parents opened it.

Next, I unwrapped my nativity set. I remembered how I much I had admired a Creche made by the Lenox china company and aspired to own the beautiful porcelain pieces someday. After my husband's step father died, my mother-in-law went into a deep depression and had such anxiety attacks that she basically quit going out of her house for anything but absolute necessities. She did seek counseling and the counselor suggested that she try going to garage sales. She could arrive early before any crowds and it would be out in the open air and less likely to bring on the terrible claustrophobic panic attacks. She was on one of these therapeutic outings when she spied the homespun ceramic nativity set someone was selling. Thinking of me and my remark that I always wanted a nativity scene she bought it especially for me. When she gave it to me and explained how she got it I was touched. My husband pulled me aside and said that I didn't have to display it if I didn't want to. He knew initially I had longed for the elegant set. No way! That beautiful little garage sale set from my wonderful mother-in-law who loved me and thought of me while she was working through a healing process meant the world to me and it still does.

My husband finished putting up our tree and we started hanging up the ornaments and memories. Most of them made by our children in school, sunday school, or daycare. One of my favorites, my daughter Angela's picture at age 5 glued in a felt ornament cutout and decorated with glitter. I smiled as I looked at her "Dorothy Hammil" haircut which she scornfully told me years later that she hated that BOWL haircut I made her have!

My husband pulled out a ragged square of colored yarns that had been woven on popsicle sticks -- one now broken. Did I want him to toss it?, he inquired. I snatched it out of his hand and said don't you dare. That's Joe's God's Eye. He proudly brought it home from school one day and "lectured" me on the meaning of the God's Eye. How it was a spiritual symbol from the peoples of northern Mexico and the four corners represented the elements of earth, fire, air, and water. HOWEVER, he told me, he preferred the Christian meaning that it was a devotional "process art" expressing a prayer that God would watch over the binder. I was blown away that an 9 year old would learn all this and be able to recite it.

He is now a professor of art at Judson University - a Christian university in Illinois...

Lastly, I pulled out a little box containing little snowman angel ornaments with names across their tummies. One for Jim and I, and one for each of our children and their spouses. I think I had bought them to hang on all our stockings. I lined them all up on our fireplace mantel, planning to tie them to each person's present that I was now deciding to buy. I came to one that said "James" and with a catch in my throat, I had to sit down. I held it in my closed hand and remembered the year that I had bought them. James came to me a few days before Christmas and asked if I was going to give him money this year and could he have it early. Knowing we had already shopped for family gifts together, I told him no. He was on disability for mental health issues and tended to blow through his money at the beginning of the month and come up short at the end. He volunteered with a homeless youth outreach program and a church sponsored lunch café for indigent people but other than his disability check, had no wages. He begged and bugged me saying he wanted to buy some presents for his friends. Finally, I relented and agreed to take him shopping at Target and he could spend $50. I made sure I told him repeatedly that it was coming out of his Christmas money. He was fine with that he assured me. Once in the store he went right for the men's underwear section and tossed in the cart some packages of thick socks, long johns, and tee-shirts. Next he found the winter hats, gloves, and scarves. He bought some bottles of lotion, petroleum jelly, and antibiotic ointment. He finished up with color books, crayons, cheap children's books, and a book of crossword puzzles with a pack of sharpened pencils. He begged for a little extra to get wrapping paper and bows. All right I sighed, I could see he wasn't buying frivolities. He spent the afternoon wrapping and I agreed to drive him to his destinations, curiosity getting the best of me. We drove into some the worst neighborhoods in our town and he would tell me to stop and I waited as he sprinted to different doors hand out the presents. We drove down under several bridges in the heart of the city and he distributed more wrapped packages to several men gathered around a barrel with a fire in it - holding out their bare hands to warm them. They smiled huge grins as they unwrapped gloves and knit caps. An old man came out of a tent and walked up to the car as we were about to pull out. My son introduced me to "Old Razor Charlie" and James explained that he wasn't sure Charlie would still be out in the tent. He handed him the crossword puzzle book and pencils. Later James explained that Charlie had a college degree and had taught before alcoholism had gotten the best of him. James feared he might not still be in out in the tent because Charlie would often go into the hospital to detox when it got too cold. Last stop was in a coffee shop and I thought we were stopping for a much needed cup of java. When we entered a little girl ran up to James and her mother followed closely behind suspiciously eyeing me. James explained it was OK because I was his mother. He gave the little girl the last two packages -- a book, color book, and crayons. She jumped up and down with excitement as she opened them and kept squealing that she had gotten presents. I bought a round of lattes and the woman told me that she and the little girl "mostly" stayed with her sister in a small apartment downtown but her sister often had boyfriends stay over that weren't too friendly. So when that was the case she would take the little girl and walk downtown all day until her sister got off work from her job at a Subway restaurant. She hugged us goodbye and prompted the little girl to thank James and I. She jumped up and hugged us quickly and sat right back down to her coloring. We were about to the door when she hollered across the coffee shop "I love you James"!!!
That was his last Christmas...

I gently hung the snow angel on the tree and turned to my husband, whom in his wiseness knew just how much we needed to keep Christmas in our lives, and I


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRIARROSE30 12/7/2010 12:01PM

    James was truely an amazing man! What a blessing to have him as your son! emoticon

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MIRDREAMS 12/31/2009 10:02AM

    You've got me crying. Merry Christmas, even if it is a few days late.

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BLCTLEW 12/29/2009 2:13PM

    I have been redefining my life and have just now gotten to this blog. I have one of those ceramic Christmas trees that I didn't pull out, and our ceramic nativity scene is huge (the camel is taller than my dog) so again I didn't pull it out, but now I know what was missing - grandma (she made these ceramics for us). Thank you for reminding me and now adding to the planning list a way to make the ceramics secure to display so we can enjoy them.

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LOSINGITALL4ME 12/26/2009 6:02PM

    Thank you for such a beautiful message. I had such a hard time finishing it because of all my tears. It was absolutely a heartfelt story. James truly knew the meaning of Christmas!

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BLOOMING52 12/21/2009 8:36AM


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FAITHFULSTORIES 12/20/2009 11:33PM

    Beautiful blog! Reminded me to post mine about "that" Christmas. May God bless you and keep you and may you have a very, Merry Christmas knowing James is watching and loving you!

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DENRNAJ 12/20/2009 3:56PM

    Thank you so much for posting this- you share from your heart and soul and it helps so many of us. You are a dear person, may you and your loved ones have a beautiful Christmas.

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JAVAJO47 12/20/2009 9:42AM

    Good morning Joanne~ Thank you so much for sharing this heartfelt blog. I was touched on so many levels. I could definitely relate to the heartache that goes into making housing decisions for elderly parents. We found a wonderful Christian nursing home for mom this last April and feel confident that she is receiving good care. It is hard to see their quality of life decline. I will keep you and your family in my prayers as you continue to care for both your dad and in-laws. The unwrapping of the very sentimental ornaments and all the memories. WOW...you have been blessed! I think I went through 3 tissues reading your story of James. What a special man he was...years ago after my first husband left me, I was living in government housing with 2 toddlers. I was fortunate to have a church that cared for me and people like your sweet James reach out in a time of need. This is what God's love is all about. Thank you for sharing his wonderful gift of sharing and love. Lastly, I adore the ceramic Christmas tree. My mom made one as well and set it out each Christmas. All of the special ornament reminders give us so much to be thankful for. There is no greater gift on this earth than to have experienced the love and joy that family brings us.

Have a very wonderful Christmas my dear friend!! emoticon emoticon
Jo Ann

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CHAIMANN 12/20/2009 12:17AM

    God bless us, every one!

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KRITTERKEEPERS 12/19/2009 12:47PM

    Thank you for such a wonderful blog! I had to go get tissues to wipe my tears so that I could finish it. For 2 years I did absolutely no decorating because I was so overwhelmed with stress at work. I decided to put up a tree this year and I just finished decorating it on the 16th. It is amazing how having the tree there with the lights glowing has a calming affect on the soul!
Your son James had a very special heart and knew the true meaning of Christmas. What a wonderful memory to have of him.

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HAPPYSOUL91 12/16/2009 10:54AM

    So many happy memories you have, thank you for sharing. emoticon

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 12/16/2009 9:22AM

    and therein lies the true meaning of Christmas....I am so sure that James is watching you with a big smile and all that love he was carrying in his heart that day.
It sounds to me like you have so very much to be celebrating this Christmas!!
Big hugs to you

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LADYFOLDER 12/15/2009 8:53PM

    Thank you, again for your insights.
I have been having trouble getting my decorations out this year, and I had trouble last year. In 2000, I lost my mother on the 28th of December.
It's not that I turned into a scrooge, rather that I was bothered by some of the memories. And, when you live alone it is a little harder.
I do go to my brother's home, and he has kids & grandkids to celebrate with, as well as many other family members come there, but it is just hard at home.
I will make an effort this week to get out the tree. Thank you.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TRINITY4001 12/15/2009 4:38PM

    Joanne: Thank you so much for this post. It is beautiful and made me think of all of the women that I have worked with over the past 20 some years as they struggled with the addiction and mental health issues. They always looked out for each other and never failed to show me how God lives in each of us.

Have a wonderful Christmas!
Sue emoticon

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ANUT4DISNEY 12/15/2009 3:36PM

    Wonderful blog and I can understand how seeing all these pieces have bought out the memories.

I have been doing the same thing while decorating the tree, the first year without my husband. Each piece has a wonderful memory and I enjoy the time to remember. Enjoy.

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THEQUEENBEE333 12/15/2009 12:16PM

    Wow. Thanks for sharing! Have a wonderful holiday season!

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CARRAND 12/15/2009 11:55AM

    Love it.

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RAINTHIEF 12/15/2009 11:53AM

    Thank you for sharing such a sweet blog. *hugs*

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LAURIE5658 12/15/2009 10:53AM

    Joanne, there is nothing like Christmas to bring out the memories!! This is when I miss Mom the most and it just gets harder every year. Have a blessed and joyous Christmas season, my friend!

Here's a toast to our loved ones who will be waiting for us for eternity!!


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CHEPRBYTHEDOZN 12/15/2009 7:28AM

    Fantastic blog! Lots of tears running down my face right now-James had the true spirit of Christmas as Christ meant it to be. If only all of us(myself included) could be so selfless and giving.
Merry Christmas!

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DAYHIKER 12/15/2009 6:27AM

    Thank you for this beautiful blog post, Joanne. It has helped me overcome a little of my own Bah Humbug with the hassle attitude. Our family is small and scattered and Christmas is not what it used to be.

Christmas blessings emoticon Cindy

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DDOORN 12/15/2009 6:01AM

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories!


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SLENDERCLAIRE 12/15/2009 4:16AM

    What a wonderful story. What a wonderful husband to remind you of your treasured memories in this way.

Merry Christmas indeed!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KITTYF54 12/15/2009 12:32AM

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas memories. We all need them, even when, ESPECIALLY when we're just to tired to dig them out. praise God for your loving husband.

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VXWALL1942 12/15/2009 12:22AM

    Thank you for creating such a vivid picture of your memories - and the pictures were terrific. With your blog, I found myself reliving and remembering my own version of each of your stories. Amazing just how similar they are.

God bless you kind emoticon

vicki emoticon

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SLIMMERJESSE 12/15/2009 12:21AM

    Soooo very touching. Thanks for sharing all this. Merry Christmas to you also.

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The Snack Police

Monday, December 07, 2009

The man crept down low, and gesturing for the woman and the small child she carried to stay behind the rock, he advanced slowly along through the thick foliage, sharpened rock in his hand. In the silence of the dusk he listened alertly even as the approaching darkness began inhibiting his vision. The wild creatures had the advantage he knew. They could smell the humans and see them in the darkness. The man was quite sure that no other creature like himself or the woman possessed these abilities. They had taken time to eat last when the sun was just dropping in the sky and now with the darkness coming upon them rapidly, he wished they had waited until back in the safety of the clan to feed.
He motioned for the woman to come quickly and they continued stealthily on their journey.
Suddenly, the man came to a halt and quietly parting the leaves saw the animal circling the remains of another creature. Alert to the potential smell and sound of the humans the animal lifted his head and began to sniff the air. The man turned to the woman and put his hand over his mouth in a gesture for stillness and silence. They crouched in frozen fear - woman clutching the child to her side while the animal debated sampling the available second hand remains or follow his instinct that might lead it to the live creature he sensed in the surroundings.
The child began to move it's head in protest against the hand of it's mother gripping it tightly against her. He began to whimper softly and the man - eyes wild in fear of ensuing wailing - gestured to the woman again with his hand across his mouth. The woman looked at him helpless and questioning with panicked eyes. Thinking quickly he pointed to the small soft animal pelt around her waist and pantomimed feeding. Reaching in she pulled out some of the berries inside and showed them to the struggling infant. He greedily accepted the offerings and stuffed them in his mouth --


It starts in infancy when mothers pack little bright colored Tupperwear containers of Cheerios in the diaper bag. Not to satisfy true hunger, but to occupy a bored child who wants to fuss. One of the women I work with told the story of her daughter pitching a fit during communion when the mother received the host on her tongue from the priest because she couldn't have a cookie too. The mother started bringing up a cheerio for the priest to bless and she could pop in the child's mouth.
I'm not judging, I did it too, but make no mistake, this was not a learned behavior. My mother needed no food bribes to get you to settle down. She had THE LOOK. It might have worked at the time, but didn't stick, because I grew up snacking out of boredom anyway.
If you look up snack in the dictionary it says: a small amount of food eaten between meals. A light meal eaten in a quick or casual manner.
In essence it's eating a small amount of food BECAUSE YOU ARE HUNGRY to tide you over until your next meal.
It's not meant to be a pizza or a one pound bag of M&M's.
This was one of the concepts I had a hard time with when I began my journey to fitness and goal weight -- learning the difference between a snack and a treat.
If a snack is a small amount of food to supplement your meals because you are hungry, then what exactly is a treat?
The dictionary defines the noun "treat" as an event or item THAT IS OUT OF THE ORDINARY and gives pleasure.
So when did one pound bags of M&Ms become ordinary for me?
I hate to keep picking on my husband in blogs but those M&M's became ordinary when I married him. He loves sweets. Especially chocolate in any form. I guess what they say is true: opposites attract. I've always loved salty. Chips, pretzels, anything with cheese. But like many brides eager to please I included candy, cupcakes, and puddings in my grocery cart along with my salty snacks and ate them both.
When I decided to try dieting, I discovered that many diets discouraged eating between meals, yet the portions allowed at meals often weren't enough to sustain me until the next one.
I can remember the very first time I went to Weight Watchers back in 1986. I followed the plan religiously and when my stomach began hurting, I couldn't figure it out. I feared that somehow, some food I was eating or the stress of dieting had caused an ulcer. I described the pain to my husband and he laughed uproariously! He was a thin man despite his fondness for sweets because he simply ate when he was hungry and when he wasn't, he didn't. He looked at me and proclaimed "You don't have an ulcer, for the first time in your life you are hungry"!
Stunned for a minute, I realized he was right! I had never in my life really known what hunger was. That actual gnawing sensation in my stomach was not anything pathological. I didn't know what to do. I was eating the maximum allowed on the diet already. Would my stomach truly "shrink" over time like the mysterious "they" said?
What that knowledge did was set me up for failure. Overtime, the hunger did lesson some as I learned that some foods stick with you better than others, but even so I still felt hungry most of the time and eventually I caved in and binged like - well -- a starving woman.
Now Weight Watchers has progressed over the years and has incorporated the necessity of snacking into their plans. My cynical husband said sure they did when they figured out they could make money off of selling their own brand of snacks. I hesitate to be critical of them though, because I have met many people who found success with them as I did. Many times over as I mentioned in a previous blog. The fact that I was eating treats instead of snacks didn't register with me because I wasn't going over my point limits and that's really what weight loss is all about -- eating less calories than you expend. However, in the long run that doesn't encourage the healthier concept of proper snacking. You are still eating treats.
It finally started to sink in to me when I found SparkPeople and started reading articles on running and how you should eat to obtain your peak performance. I adopted a program of eating six times a day. Three main meals and three healthy mini meals in between. It might be a banana or other piece of fruit. It might be some whole grain crackers and low fat cheese. Maybe some raw veggies and humus to dip them in.
I really never feel hungry at all anymore. I can get in all my calcium in because a glass of milk or a carton of yogurt makes a nice snack.
Occasionally I treat myself but usually only if I'm out. I try not to keep sweets that can trigger my old bingeing habits in the house. My husband has "his shelf" in the pantry that I don't even entertain the thought of reaching into.
Except for lately.
My Thanksgiving eating debacle set me back and ignited old passions that I had squelched for some time. So out of self-preservation I didn't put a single candy bar, cookie, or cupcake in the grocery cart when I went to the store last week. I just don't feel in control enough to allow them back within my reach.
The other night my husband came up from the television and automatically went to the pantry in search of his treats and found nothing but a few stale graham crackers and a box of raisins. He asked me what the deal was and I explained that didn't feel in control enough with my eating to allow them back into the house yet but would he like some natural style microwave popcorn? As if he didn't quite believe me he started searching through the cupboards and freezer. Nothing? Sugar free applesauce I suggested.
"Humpf", he huffed as he sighed and reached for a couple of containers of the applesauce. "Who made YOU the snack police?"
I looked at him and said casually "Oh that was decided at the meeting".
"What meeting?" he asked.
Knowing defeat when he was faced with it, he snatched up the applesauce and headed back to the stairs muttering all the way about "a man in his own home"!
Jeez! I thought...


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2ABETRLIFE 12/26/2009 9:10PM


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ALLISON4EG 12/23/2009 12:00AM

    You have such a readable entertaining blog! :)

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PINKAMINGO 12/22/2009 9:25PM

    Great blog! The shut up snack could possibly be contributing to the childhood obesity rate. If we learn at an early age to eat when we are bored instead of only when we are hungry, it is yet another obstacle to overcome as we age and get bigger. No faults to any moms, sometimes it needs to be done. Very similar to giving a treat to a dog whenever they come inside from going out.

Love the comment about it was decided at the meeting. LOL!

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FAITHFULSTORIES 12/20/2009 11:25PM

    Laughed out loud at the thus the shut-up snack was born! I'm queen of this as was my mother and my grandmother and great-grandmother and well, you get the picture. My daughter is heading there too always complaining there is nothing "good" to eat anymore. I, too, have stopped buying treats and am trying to teach healthy snacks to myself and therefore; my children. Not easy. Loved your blog, and will try to learn the lessons well!

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MASE72 12/20/2009 2:08PM

    great blog

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HAPPYSOUL91 12/10/2009 11:41AM

    What a great read, very funny and especially "AND THUS THE SHUT-UP SNACK WAS BORN" gulp....I've certainly done this.

LOL, your husband, but when it is decided at a meeting, it is decided!

emoticon emoticon

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SHI-TOODLES4ME 12/10/2009 8:58AM

    Very creative and cute, thanks for sharing!

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DDOORN 12/10/2009 12:06AM

    Oh yeah...! That's my favorite way to deal with sweet treats...keep them way far away...WELL out of arm's reach! I'm so blessed to have others in my home who agree wholeheartedly! Whew! :-)


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BESTSUSIEYET 12/9/2009 9:32PM

    Hooray!! Another blog by Joanne gets
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
I especially appreciated the distinction between snacks and treats! For me, I need enough treats to not feel deprived, so I've learned to make healthy treats. Last night I did the heatlhy granola bars recipe, added a little cocoa powder, baked it in mini-muffin tin (portion control!!) and LOVED one of them for my mid-morning snack today. 113 calories to tide me over and make me not-too-hungry at lunch time. Keep writing, my friend -- and keep making those wise choices!!

Comment edited on: 12/9/2009 9:38:47 PM

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JAVAJO47 12/9/2009 6:54PM

    As always an excellent thought where snacking is concerned. You made me laugh out loud with the line thrown at your hubby. I have been failing miserably the last few weeks with snacks and need to stop buying and making my son's favorite holiday treats...it's gonna get the best of me. If I don't buy, just as you did, then I will go back to eating what I know is good for me. Hmmmm...now THERE's a good thought. emoticon

Jo Ann

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TIGERJANE 12/9/2009 6:43PM

    I'm stealing your line "It was decided at the meeting!" LOLOLOL!!!

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TIFFANY_SUZANNE 12/9/2009 4:50PM

    I think I have a little teeny crush on your husband Joanne.
(Where's that SHUT-UP snack when I need it...)


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LADYFOLDER 12/8/2009 5:06PM

    Thank you for your sense of humor.

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SUZY6281 12/8/2009 11:40AM

    Ha! I will have to use your line next time my husband complains about the cooking!

Good for you for tackling snacks the best way you know how. I have to do the same. If I buy snack for my husband, I only buy things I'm not fond of. Chocolate can not enter my house. I tried freezing it so I wouldn't eat it, and would you believe it tastes even better frozen?


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SHIRLEYDILLARD 12/7/2009 10:32PM

    Love it!!

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LORIZIM 12/7/2009 2:56PM

    Awesome blog. I hope to get to the point where I can have the self control to just not bring it into the house!

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THEQUEENBEE333 12/7/2009 1:36PM

    Thanks for sharing. Makes a very good point!

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KITTYF54 12/7/2009 12:39PM

    Loved this! you made me LAUGH!! That was decided at the meeting.

I don't mind keeping stuff around for my husband as long as he doesn't leave it sit on the counters and table all the time, (which he does) and as long as he buys most of it himself, which he does. I do buy chocolate, but as long as the can is kept up above eye level I don't mess with it, it just doesn't draw my eye.

Thanks for the laugh. Kitty

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DAYHIKER 12/7/2009 12:01PM

    You nut! You cracked me up with this one! Especially the melodrama at the beginning!! emoticon

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ASIAMORA 12/7/2009 11:23AM

    thanks for making me smile.

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BARBARA_G 12/7/2009 11:02AM

    You made me smile. I love how you explained the lack of snacks to your husband!

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HILARYMM 12/7/2009 10:27AM

    Congratulations on accepting your role as Snack Police, and for giving me a great laugh this morning!

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LAURIE5658 12/7/2009 10:20AM

    And the crowd roars uncontrollably as Joanne hits it out of the ballpark!!!!! What is it wit men lately???!!! ACK!

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TRINITY4001 12/7/2009 9:50AM

    Great blog piece! Thanks!

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    Once again..a great blog!!

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 12/7/2009 6:47AM

    love this one!

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DENRNAJ 12/7/2009 6:37AM

    Ahhhhhhhh, the great snack/treat issue! I have also followed a plan in the past that was strict with 3 meals a day with nothing in-between- not even a piece of gum. I was miserable and it lead to many a pm binge. Immature? Lack of self control? I believe that I had set myself up to fail. I also felt very weak when I tried to exercise. That has since changed.
LOL- my son has "his drawer". What goes in the drawer only comes out by his hand.
Thank you for posting, wonderful blog!

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WISLNDR 12/7/2009 6:02AM

    I like your writing style and your blog was both entertaining and thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing!


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FLAWLESSCUBE 12/7/2009 4:18AM

    Wow I loved reading this and my DH plays the snack police at times, bless his heart. He reminds me I must log whatever food he didn't deem part of my plan that day into that website I am always on. SOunds familiar anyone? aw well someday there will be SF M&M's and we will all rejoice :)
THanks for sharing this.

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WASABI601 12/7/2009 1:30AM

    okay...the M&M thing....awe come on...cut us husbands some slack on that. We really don't eat them.....um.....we just pick out the green M&M's....because you wives are looking so hot now!!!!!

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VXWALL1942 12/7/2009 1:11AM

    After my initial smile at the scenario of the cave man, I grasped the reality and then let out a hoot when the initiation of snacking was identified. If only I knew as a child, and then as a mother, just how detrimental this pathetic behavior pattern is I would have done things very differently.

Now if only I had my own team of Snack Police. My DH frequently brings home stuff I shouldn't touch...but do. Well, I guess that means I need to police myself - anybody know where to buy will power? - in order to win my daily battle and, ultimately, the war.

Loved the blog and the thoughts it provoked in me.


vicki emoticon

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Planning to Plan

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I approached the holiday season this year feeling pretty confident. This year was certainly going to be different from last year when I put on 15 pounds between Thanksgiving and new years day! For one thing I RUN now. I'm a RUNNER. Everybody knows that RUNNERS can eat more calories because they burn so many RUNNING. Right?
Oh, and throughout the past year I've made a lot of progress in self-discovery. I've learned a lot about my self and why my eating habits led me to be overweight. I was SWIMMING IN THE RIVER DENIAL, I am a PERFECTIONIST, I succumbed to PEER PRESSURE. Just read my blogs...
Will I never learn? Why do I always have to learn the hard way?

It seemed like everybody I talked to early last week asked me what my plans were for Thanksgiving. Friends, co-workers, store clerks. I shared my plans to travel to my son's home just outside of Chicago. He has a lovely wife who is a fabulous cook and two beautiful little girls - one of whom turned one year old on Thanksgiving day. My daughter-in-law is a stay at home mom who is so organized and efficient. She assured me that I didn't have to bring a thing. Just come and relax and enjoy the kids. I've been so tied up with elderly parents, I really looked forward to doing just that!
One of my Spark friends asked me the same question about my plans and I recited my whole spiel via Spark mail and she replied back saying "No, I mean what are your PLANS to keep your eating under control and continue your exercise?"
What? I'm going to run - um sometime. I'm going to exercise my self-control. I can do it. I do it everyday - mostly. And I'm going to run sometime...
We were to set out for my son's after my husband got off work Wednesday at 4 p.m. I made a quick last minute trip to the store to get some sandwich making materials so we could eat a healthy sandwich on the road and not have to stop for fast food. While at the store I thought I'd just grab a few snacks also to take in the car. My husband loves chocolate so I bought a few candy bars. He likes chips and chex mix so I found some reduced fat Pringles and a bag of Chex Mix that proclaimed right on the label 65% less fat than -- whatever else I was thinking of buying. Me? I didn't plan to snack. The turkey on whole wheat and low-fat cheese would more than satisfy me. Especially coupled with all the bottled water I brought to drink.
So we ate our sandwiches and my husband was full. I, however, continued to polish off 3/4 of a can of Pringles, 1/2 a bag of Chex Mix -- 3 servings according to the package, and a candy bar. Washed down with the Diet Coke I bought at the rest stop.
Feeling bloated, nauseated, and full of gas, we rolled into my son's house about 10 o'clock.
What on earth got into me I wondered. I felt immediately remorseful, especially since the first words practically out of my mouth when I saw my son were "Do you have any Alka-Seltzer or Tums"?
I lay in bed that night obsessing out loud to my husband who reminded me tomorrow would be a new day. Tired the next morning I lay in bed feeling even more guilty as a heard my husband, who was long since up and at 'em, tell my granddaughter to let Grandma sleep because she didn't feel well last night. I dragged out of bed and vowed that I was back in control. No beating myself up. It's over.
And for most of the day it was. My daughter-in-law has healthy things to eat. She bakes her own whole grain bread. She has fresh fruit in a bowl. Her kitchen smelled wonderful as only a kitchen on the day of Thanksgiving can smell. The fragrance of the sage in stuffing mingling with the nutmeg in pumpkin pies. No frozen whipped topping for this woman -- everything was homemade right down to hand whipped whipped cream.
Gracious people, my son and his wife had invited several different couples and their children from the university where he teaches to dinner. "Strays" whose own families were too far away to travel to. Interesting, enjoyable company.
My daughter-in-law had laid out a counter full of "munchies" for the guests to enjoy while the last minute dinner preparations were underway.
Now you would have thought that I learned a lesson the night before when I overdosed on sodium and sugar in the car. So how was it that I found myself perched on a stool at the counter dipping my hand into a bowl of sugared nuts and raisins repeatedly? To the point that I later thought reminded me exactly of the scene from Pride and Prejudiced when Mr. Bennet gently draws his daughter Mary away from the piano admonishing her "That's enough now, Mary. It's time to let the other girls have a turn". Only here it was my son gently lifting my hand out of the bowl and quietly saying "Mom, save some for the other guests". Embarrassed, I was so loaded up on nuts and humus and cranberry goat cheese, I wasn't even really hungry for the lean turkey, fresh steamed green beans, sweet potatoes, and quinoa for the actual meal.
BUT I managed and followed it up with pecan pie with whipped cream on top.
Like the Jim Carey character in "The Mask", I felt like saying " Sommmmebody stop me"!!

The next morning I did get up and head out for a nice long run to explore the new neighborhood. It felt great to run and it seemed to snap some sense back into me.
While running I kept replaying my day and a half of disastrous eating over and over in my head. What caused it? Was it peer pressure? Not this time. My daughter-in-law cooks terrific but certainly wouldn't have felt hurt if I declined her pie. I wasn't trying to fit in with the new group of people either.
I felt like the first man who climbed Mt. Everest when he was asked why he felt the need to climb it and he responded "Because it was there".
I ate because it was there. I ate on impulse. I genuinely started feeling depressed about it. Maybe I am an impulsive person. I started thinking over every impulsive action I ever did in my whole life. Pretty soon, I had magnified them to astronomical proportions. I lacked will power, self control. I was obsessive. I was compulsive. I was one sugared nut away from a straight jacket and committal. I could feel my eyes watering even as I ran. Whoops!
"Wait a minute, Drama Queen -- where are you?" I suddenly asked myself.
I wasn't paying attention to the songs on my i-pod -- my usual gage of how far I had ran. I wasn't paying attention to street signs. I think I had ran about two miles when I came to a busy road and a red light. Stopping, I looked around and thought:
"Ok. Where the hell am I"?

No cell phone to call my son, I found myself in the middle of traffic in a neighborhood that's businesses seemed to have a lot of signs in Spanish. Slowly it dawned on me that my son had said that east of their block about 1 1/2 - 2 miles the area became more ethnic where a lot of Hispanics lived. That was reassuring because that meant I was east of his house. I thought I'd just pop into a business and ask exactly how to get back to Brook street. When I turned around it was as if divine intervention brought me to that destination because a large sign proclaimed in English and Spanish, "Plan for the unexpected"! I had stopped right in front of an insurance agency. A nice gentleman stepped outside and pointed me in the proper direction. Straight down to Lovett and turn right 6 blocks to Brook street. Essentially I had ran two sides of a big square.
I took a nice cool down walk the other two sides of the square to my son's house and reflected on the words on that sign:
Plan for the unexpected.
Somehow encouraged, I thought, Hey! Maybe I didn't need a straight jacket after all! I JUST NEEDED TO PLAN! Like the old saying -- Failure to plan is planning to fail, and that's exactly what had happened to me. I failed to plan. I impulsively bought snacks last minute for the car - and ate them all. I failed to check with my daughter-in-law about the menu and plan what I was going to eat ahead of time. I didn't plan to take my water into the living room and visit out there instead of in the kitchen by the food.

Now planning is not my strong suit. I gave birth to three children in four years if that tells you anything. But I'm going to try.
I'm off to a pretty good start. We took my son's family out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner Saturday night. It was a chain restaurant and I was familiar with their menu so I knew in advance what I was going to order from their light selections. I didn't even open my menu. I sat on the end so I could move the chips down by the others. I took some clementine oranges in the car for snacks while driving home. I asked my hubby to stop in a town that had a Subway for lunch.
Maybe I can do this after all!
I got home and got on line and e-mailed my Spark friend. The one who had asked me what my PLAN was for Thanksgiving, and told her my tale. Confession is good for the soul as they say. But more than just a confession. I wanted her to know that I think I finally get it:
Knowing why you eat out of control is important, but it's how you use that knowledge that counts the most. How can you use it to plan ahead BEFORE you lose control.
First thing I did tonight is get on Sparkpeople and start scrolling through their recipes and learning to use the menu planner. I read some articles. One thing I know for sure -- no 15 pound gain this year. I'm not leaving Christmas up to chance. I'm going to be a planning fool. I'll make plans to make plans.

AND -- I'll keep you posted...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHAIMANN 12/5/2009 8:16AM

    Instructive, as always. :-)

I've taken enough long trips as a Sparker to know that I should pack the same snacks that I would eat on a normal day, and have one before we stop at a gas station. Cheez-its are no longer welcome in my car.

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 12/5/2009 12:20AM

    Yeah, I'm pretty convinced that my willpower is guaranteed to fail sooner or later if tested too many times. So I follow that Scout motto, "Be Prepared."

I carry low-carb protein bars with me at all times for emergencies because if I'm hungry I am less likely to think straight and stay on track.

I often bring foods to gatherings so that I know there will be something I can eat, and I budget my food for the rest of the day to accommodate it.

I carry a notebook and a tiny digital scale in my purse for logging food eaten away from the internet.

I almost never rely on someone else to provide healthy options, because my idea of "healthy" is now very different from that of the average American.

It's a war zone out there filled with salty, fatty carbalicious land mines, and my best defense is a good offense! LOL

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CAOMAGIC 12/4/2009 9:17PM

    The 80/20 rule makes good sense in this situation - eat 80% healthy and 20% what you like (amounts within reason), and as you said, plan well, and that should help. People in our situation will always have problems with food over the holidays due to the cultural triggers to overeat.

Two steps forward one step back!!!

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DDOORN 12/4/2009 8:33PM

    My answer got so long I think I'll go post it as a blog on my SparkPage...lol!

Had a nose-dive myself while traveling out of town Thanksgiving weekend also...it is such a SMACK upside the head that one can fall victim to food even at this point in our journey!


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JAVAJO47 12/3/2009 11:23PM

    You have such a wonderful way of evaluating life's little bumps in the road. Thanks so much for the insight and a little message that THIS Jo Ann needed to hear. The holidays have made me rather lax in my planning and with little things like Light Egg nog, cashews, crackers and a few chocolate snacks, I find myself losing control. For some reason I've allowed the holidays as a free for all, and my body is not responding well. The words of wisdom you shared have inspired me to turn this thinking around and recommit to healthy eating and exercise. If you can do it, so can I!! emoticon

Jo Ann

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LIGHTHOUSE23 12/3/2009 1:43PM

    Let's see. I had PLANNED not to cook for Thanksgiving. At the last minute I was searching for healthy versions of our favorites from sp recipes. I lost a pound the day after Thanksgiving. So, I'm thinking if I PLAN not to cook for Christmas....and end up cooking, maybe I will loose 2 pounds! Anyway, I think planning for me is a good thing, too.

Thanks for another great blog!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LALAFLOWERS 12/2/2009 10:25PM

    I am glad that you found your sign along your run... Things often happen only when we need them... what a great lesson... and I hope that I learn this lesson from your mistakes... and don't make them myself.... ;-)

Great job planning your month!

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CHEPRBYTHEDOZN 12/2/2009 12:32PM

    I hear you loud and clear!! I always use the 'it's only one day' excuse. I've got to make more plans,too. Real, concrete ones. Thanks again for another great blog!!

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LAURIE5658 12/2/2009 12:28PM

    Joanne, our Spark journys are all a continued process and there are still many lessons to be learned. It took us most of our lives to learn BAD habits and it will take a little time to learn NEW healthy habits. Be patient with yoursel cuz you are doing GREAT!!!

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WISLNDR 12/2/2009 7:42AM

    Excellent blog! I could identify with all that you wrote! I look forward to reading more about your plans and your progress!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DENRNAJ 12/2/2009 7:15AM

    Would you like to food buddy with me?
I have a terrible time with food- I have very obsessive behavior and reporting to someone always seems to help.
If not, there is no pressure on you to accept. I am at the point in my life where it takes MUCH more than someone stating that they don't care to do something to upset me! Woo Hoo for that!
I loved your story for the fact that it lets me know that you are human like the rest of us. I have put you on a pedestal and that is unfair to you. I have to accept that we all have issues and helping each other is what it's all about.
Spark on my friend!
emoticon emoticon

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BESTSUSIEYET 12/1/2009 11:18PM

    That's the Way! I'd love to be accountability partners through the coming month, as I know too well how easily it is to have a false confidence "I can do this" without planning.

I didn't fall too far off the wagon on vacation -- will weigh in the morning and see if I am right in that assessment. The car trip (we had 2 - 6hr drives each way for a total of 24 hrs in the car) was more challenging -- dil had packed snacks for the kids, and they are pretty healthy, but I had to 'slap my hand' away from the open bag of tortilla chips my son put right in front of me and kept asking me to get him some.

I'm ready to be back in my routine -- but have several major eating-out occasions coming up that I better plan ahead for.

Christmas is coming - Let's plan to succeed, friend!

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YARDWALKER 12/1/2009 9:37PM

    I always love your blogs. They are so inciteful and well written, thanks for sharing.

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VXWALL1942 12/1/2009 3:14PM

    Thanks for sharing. Provided me with a visit to my world of indulgence. I had 4 kids in 3 1/2 yrs so totally relate to that example.

I really liked the 'failing to plan is planning to fail' words and concept. Gonna take this one with me.

God bless = good luck in your plans. emoticon

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THEQUEENBEE333 12/1/2009 1:14PM

    Great blog - thanks for sharing. Your blog echos so many peoples holiday havoc! :-) Good job, set a plan for Christmas and follow it! I am doing that too (I AM TELLING YOU SO I CAN BE ACCOUNTABLE ;-) If not, tell me to get off my duff!) Have a great week! This is a new day! We can DO this! I aspire to be a runner! :-)

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KATHYCOOK4 12/1/2009 1:00PM

    Good for you for realizing what you were doing. Your story has given me more insight into my own behavior. I'm very impulsive.

Thanks for sharing. I learned a lot from your story.


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MDEAL72 12/1/2009 12:55PM

    What an awesome blog, as your journey was also mine over this past weekend. You're absolutely right when you said, "Knowing why you eat out of control is important, but it's how you use that knowledge that counts the most." Like you, I am not the best at planning things, but hey...knowing where you need to start is the first step, right? :)

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JEKRUNS 12/1/2009 11:13AM

    Thanks so much for your insight! Its all about planning for me too. Its so reassuring when I plan out my meals, then I don't have to "wing it". Right now is a good time to get back on track, thanks again! emoticon

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HAPPYSOUL91 12/1/2009 10:15AM

    I will also say that you need to blog more. We have all been there and some of the things I discovered is that I cannot have things in the house that aren't according to my plan and I can't be next to the serving table or buffet table.

You certainly gained insight to this weight issue and I am cheering you onward and forward

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 12/1/2009 10:10AM

    Good girl!! you took a difficult few eating days and turned them around!! thats fantastic! of course, you could have done it like me and gotten sick...but thats no fun although the 12 pound in 3 day loss i see this am was the silver lining in the cloudy haze of the past 3 days....
I am so proud of you!

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SLIMMERJESSE 12/1/2009 8:52AM

    Thanks for the reminder to plan. I had to smile about the babies in 4 years. Sounds very familiar. I'm not a planner, but never too late to start.

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    Isn't it amazing what we still have to learn!!

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DAYHIKER 12/1/2009 6:34AM

    Great post, Joanne! I have so been there and done that and wondered what in the world got into me later. You did a good job of analyzing the situation. I have gone off with a plan and still fallen into the impulse of the moment on some occasions but they are fewer and fewer. It's definitely a learning and growing lifestyle!

Comment edited on: 12/1/2009 6:35:22 AM

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PRINCESSNURSE 12/1/2009 5:13AM

    Great blog entry! It is sooooo easy to let this happen isn't it? The old saying is true-when you fail to plan you plan to fail! WTG identifying you weaknesses and taking action-I know you can survive this holiday season intact and even strionger than you are now!

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WASABI601 12/1/2009 1:52AM

    You need to blog more!!!!!!! I love reading your thoughts:)

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