JENJESS48   53,380
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Freshening Up My Program for the New Year

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Last year I wanted to lose 40 pounds but only lost 15. So this year I have about 25 pounds to lose - and my husband I plan to try to get pregnant this year, so I probably won't lose all the weight before then. And that's fine with me; I don't want to postpone pregnancy to lose weight. (I'm already 33 and don't have the luxury of time.)

Late last year I got burned out on my weight loss efforts and learned a lot about what works for me. Apparently I've been bitten by the New Year's Fever bug, because I feel the need to freshen up my program. My fitness will stay pretty much the same, with one substitution:

emoticon 3 30-minute cardio sessions a week;

emoticon 2 full body ST sessions a week, and here's the substitution: I'm going to swap out last year's Coach Nicole bootcamp videos with this year's, since I'm sick of the old ones;

emoticon one yoga session a week.

I really hate tracking my food and have a good feel for what and how much I should eat a day. So I'm going to stick to this rough plan, which should alleviate the need for strict tracking:

emoticon Breakfast: 1 cup cooked oatmeal (made with almond milk) and 1 serving of dried fruit, 1 tablespoon sugar-free coffee creamer, and a cup of Greek yogurt, for a total of ~450 calories;

emoticon Morning snack: ~100 calories of fruit;

emoticon Lunch: leftovers, salad, or sandwich to the tune of ~400 calories;

emoticon Afternoon snack: ~150 calories of fruit or popcorn or whole-grain crackers/pretzels;

emoticon Dinner: ~550 calories of lean protein, whole grains, and veggies, following the My Plate guidelines;

emoticon Dessert: 100 calories or fewer of pudding, hot chocolate, or dark Dove promises.

These guidelines put me at ~1700 calories a day, and my nutrition tracker says 1800 is my upper limit. Most days I find that I skip at least one snack and eat a slightly bigger dinner, but that's fine. I intend the plan to be a guideline that will help me eat well and within my calorie limits with minimal effort. (The latter part is key...) So if I just focus on making good, healthy choices for lunch and dinner everything should fall into place. Also, I'm hoping that sticking to a framework instead of tracking will help me sweep away those last vestiges of a diet mentality.

Sleep and water don't figure into my plan because getting enough of them is an entrenched part of my life; I don't even need to think about it. Eating right and getting my workouts in are still works in progress, but I'm getting a lot closer. And at the end of the day, that's really my goal for 2012 since I'm hoping that following the scale will not be an option for me come summertime. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SLIMSOLO10 1/14/2012 11:59AM

    Once again, you have come up with a manageable plan and I know you will still with it. It will be so great to lose a bit more weight before getting pregnant. You will feel better going into it. That is sooo exciting. Praying God's blessings on this year for you and your husband! emoticon

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KATHIERAE 1/11/2012 8:24PM

    I LOVE your food plan!! (exercise plan too, but the food plan is fantastic!) I also hate tracking, so I really like your "framework" idea... I am not quite to the point where I instinctively know how many calories I am eating at each meal but your plan sounds perfect for you.

And I am so glad you aren't waiting to be the "perfect" weight before trying for a baby... no time like the present! emoticon

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KITHKINCAID 1/10/2012 2:35PM

    It's amazing how much everyone's plans for a well balanced life are exactly the same. If we can just DO IT, all will be right with the world :) I wish you a year of staying right where you want to be and looking forward to seeing those calorie limits go up when you have a little bun in the oven! :)

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KT-NICHOLS-13 1/10/2012 12:58PM

    Great action plan and you're keeping it simple. :)

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LOTUSFLOWER 1/10/2012 12:27PM


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TKTMTA 1/10/2012 11:35AM


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What I Learned In A Month Away

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

At the end of October I felt very overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions. So I decided to take a SparkBreak for two main reasons: to pare down the number of things I try to do in a day and to focus in on what is and isn't working in my wellness plan. And let me tell you, I learned a lot. Most of the lessons are still works in progress - life just seems to work that way - but I'm in a better head space and ready to come back, slowly. Here's a list of what I've learned in five weeks, in stream of consciousness order:

emoticon I am really good at maintaining my weight. My attention to both diet and exercise wavered, but one or the other always seemed to be going well; I never completely fluffed a week. And my weight held rock steady from before Halloween to the present day. Go figure.

emoticon Morning workouts ROCK. I pack my work clothes in my gym bag, throw on gym clothes, eat breakfast at work, and exercise 30 minutes later (gotta digest that breakfast!). I get in a great workout because I'm fueled and well-rested. The pride and sense of accomplishment stays with me all day - and boosts my confidence and self-image all day, too. I also seem to be more energetic. Plus it's one less thing to worry about fitting in over the course of the day; I'd found myself skipping workouts far too often because work gets craziest at mid-afternoon, which is when I used to work out.

emoticon I definitely spent too much time on the social networking aspect of SP. I'm going to be back online regularly, but not participating in teams and keeping my comments on blogs and status rather minimal.

emoticon Consistency is difficult for me. I seem to be able to be super consistent with either fitness or nutrition. And even when I'm doing well with nutrition, certain days slip away from me.

emoticon Perhaps the most important thing I learned is how to focus on a task and not my to-do list. The shift is small but extremely important. I am getting better at taking one task at a time and not worrying about what the rest of my list looks like or how long it gets. This has gone a long, long way to reducing my overall stress level.

emoticon Another big stress reducer has been learning to effectively triage and prioritize. This is most important at work, where I have a very high volume of stuff to deal with every day, but also at home where, as we all know, the chores never end.

emoticon I finally feel like I have a handle on my new job. Oh, the stress relief that brought!

emoticon I am normal sized. And, frankly, hot. Because I'm recovering from an eating disorder, truly believing that is a big hairy deal.

emoticon Even if I don't lose another pound, I am happy with my body. It works well and is happy. That makes ME work well and happy.

emoticon This lifestyle is here to stay. I like it too much to go back. So if I just hold even, I'm cool with that. I'm still hoping to lose, but I'm not going to kill myself or beat myself up if I hold even. I am the healthiest I've ever been, so who cares if I'm carrying a few extra pounds? They're not hurting anything right now. (If that changes, I'll re-assess.)

emoticonI am learning to live by Emerson's advice: "Finish each day and be done with it." I accept that I've done the best I could, even if that means too many of my calories came from York peppermint patties (darn them anyway) or the to-do list is longer than when I started in the morning. Sometimes life happens that way. Acknowledge it, move on, and start fresh tomorrow. (This is a biggie on the works-in-progress list. But I've made a lot of headway.)

emoticon Iron discipline is not necessarily a good thing. I need to relax and enjoy myself more often. My inclination towards iron discipline combined with my consistency problems caused me endless grief and self-recriminations. I'm done with that now. (Or at least trying to be.) I need to be more flexible and focus on my healthy lifestyle, not doing everything perfectly.

emoticon I missed you guys more than I thought I would!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELLYFINT 1/3/2012 9:41AM

    Great insight, and that Emerson quotation is perfect. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with your goals for the new year :)

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KATHIERAE 12/8/2011 10:28PM

    Fantastic!!! You learned a LOT, and I am so glad you shared... and that you are back!

And you ARE hot! emoticon

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KT-NICHOLS-13 12/8/2011 8:10PM

    What wonderful lessons!

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KITHKINCAID 12/7/2011 5:01PM

    Good lessons Jen! We could all use a dose of some of the above I'm sure. Glad things are working out for you and you're being kinder to yourself. That's what this whole thing is about anyway!

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FULLOFFAITH 12/7/2011 3:58PM

    We missed you to. Great Blog!!


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IGSBETH 12/7/2011 3:03PM

    Great lessons!

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LOTUSFLOWER 12/7/2011 2:43PM

    Woo hoo on morning workouts and for maintaining while not on Spark! I'm glad you're back and completely understand the need to minimize time spent here. I love that Emerson quote :)

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Taking a Spark Break

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lately I've been feeling overwhelmed, mostly at work - which is where I do most of my Sparking. My weight loss effort level has been up and down, more down than up, and I keep beating myself up over it. I just need to free up some of the brain space being occupied by all my Spark activities. So I've decided to take a Spark break. I'm still going to exercise and eat healthy, but I'm not going to track and I won't be hopping online. I'm not sure how long this will last; I plan to try it for a month and reevaluate.

In the meantime, I'll miss you all. Good luck in all your endeavors!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DITZYCHICK 11/3/2011 7:50PM

    Completely understandable!

I completely understand as I too get caught up in spark world and start to feel overwhelmed. You have to do what's right for you though.

You'll be missed and thought of!!! emoticon

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LOTUSFLOWER 11/2/2011 3:10PM

    Sometimes we all need a break. I'll miss you and look forward to hearing from you soon! emoticon

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ELLYFINT 11/1/2011 7:43PM

    Oh nooooooo! I'll miss you!

Ok, but selfish comment aside: it's important to do what's important for YOU so if a Spark Break is what you need, GO FOR IT :) And rest assured, all your Spark Friends will be waiting for you whenever you decide to come back!

Good luck with all your healthy goals, Jen!!!

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DIXIED88 11/1/2011 2:45PM

    Taking my idea and running with it, eh? Just come back occasionally and say hi. You have to do what's healthy for you and that's exactly what this site is all about.

Miss you and super tight hugs! emoticon

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KATHIERAE 11/1/2011 10:06AM

    gotta do what's best for YOU! Take care of yourself and I hope work gets better... emoticon

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    You know, just a thought....but your activity on Spark could be done once a week instead of daily. Sure, you can't track every meal for a week in one day. But you could keep an offline food journal to keep you aware of what you are eating, be sure to write in the calories when you have time to. I say, if you checked in with your teams (especially Determination and Accountability) weekly and just let us know whether you are still eating well, still exercising, and still alive that would be a good thing and we can still send you support, encouragement and lots and lots of prayers that your workload eases up soon.

It's ok to be overwhelmed and go shrieking through the night once and awhile but don't give up. Don't you EVER give up!!!

I have faith in you.

Much love and hugs,


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BARBARA_BOO 11/1/2011 1:21AM

    I know exactly how you feel. That's what I've been doing.

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KITHKINCAID 11/1/2011 12:51AM

    Just do a "No Weigh November" and then come back in December. As long as you can stay accountable to yourself, it doesn't matter what you do, but we'll miss you!

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CATS_MEOW_0911 11/1/2011 12:36AM

    Hope you have a good SparkBreak! You come back, ya hear?
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SWEETSOUNDS11 10/31/2011 9:55PM

    Well I do hope you find a way to reduce stress. I am glad you plan to continue to eat healthy and exercise. I have some fear about you not logging on to SP. I think scaling back is a good idea if you find you are over doing it or if its stressful. However research suggests having a support network and logging food items are strongly correlated with success. I really hope you keep with SP over the next month and just find a different balance that works for you. I am here cheering and routing for your success!

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Turning It Around: New Motivation and a Double Win

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My last blog was about me feeling stuck and frustrated. In it I mentioned that I'm frustrated because DH and I are getting closer and closer to starting a family, but I'm no closer to my weight loss goals. Well, I decided to turn that rationale on its head: I'm using our plans to light a fire under my butt to shed the excess pounds before I get pregnant. This weekend I realized that I have a golden opportunity in my hands: I have six whole months to focus on myself and my goals before my life utterly changes and my main focus will be on other, tiny, people. I realize that it is not only possible but also healthy to devote time and attention to yourself while raising kids. And I also know, courtesy of so many great examples right here on SP, that you can be a mom and lose weight. Yet it is never going to be easier than it is right now. Losing weight gets harder as you get older, and no one has discovered the fountain of youth. Losing weight takes a lot of time and effort, and soon I will have more demands on both of those things.

So. Clearly now is the time to work on ME and MY GOALS. As hard as it sometimes is, it is never going to be this easy again. The window of opportunity is about six months long (provided we don't have any scary infertility problems, which I'm not even allowing myself to think about) and I do not want to squander it. These are my new mantras:

--It's never going to be this easy again.

--Now is the time. Don't squander it.

-- I have six months.

This is very motivational for me and in a very positive way. Yes, being in better shape will be better for the would-be babies. But this is the most important thing I can do for myself in a long, long time - possibly for life. (Or at least this is what I'm telling myself, since it keeps me going and I have no idea what my future will bring.)

I am also a very visual person. So I took little reusable flags and stuck one on my monitor for each pound I want to lose. The flags are in groups of five and each time a group disappears I get a reward. They're a great visual queue for how much I have left and how much is already gone. Plus it's a super easy way to track both my progress and how much I have to go before my next reward. And don't worry, I'm rewarding myself for other things, too, not just the pounds. I reward myself for every 10 100% days I have, which is a great way to keep me focused on the process.

Separately, I had two big wins last night. My work pants situation was getting pretty dire: I only had one pair of dress pants left that fit. And they didn't fit that well - and were quite faded. Yeah, those poor things have served their time and are due for a peaceful retirement. I hate shopping when I don't know what size I wear or what styles will work. Thank goodness for Ann Taylor Loft - they had a great sale and a super helpful clerk. I walked out after 30 minutes with 3 pairs of pants and a dress and without $140. This may seem steep, but normally their pants are $70 a pair and dresses are $100. The pants are pretty, machine washable, well made, FIT, and look great. I'm a happy camper.

After my little spree, I met DH for dinner. We went to a place we'd never tried before called Seasons 52. They specialize in fresh, seasonal food. Many of their ingredients are organic and/or locally sourced. We didn't realize this when we decided to go there, but every item on their menu is 475 calories or fewer - which they state right at the top of the menu. Win!!! That takes the guess work and guilt right out of the equation since it is literally impossible to make a poor nutritional choice. I had the tomato carpaccio (fresh tomatoes, the barest drizzles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, and a teaspoon of goat cheese), grilled trout, asparagus, and roasted potatoes. OM NOM NOM NOM. DH had tuna and avocado rolls, filet mignon, mashed potatoes, and carrots. Yes, his serving size was small. But it was satisfying and nutritionally sound. We passed on dessert, which is a variety of 300-calorie shot glasses of decadence, because I didn't have quite enough room in my calorie budget. But I love that they have the calorie counts readily available and that there are so many delightful choices. I think we've found a new favorite restaurant!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DITZYCHICK 10/13/2011 10:08AM

    Loving the attitude girl! It's so exciting to be planning your family, and you're is the easiest time for you to focus on yourself. Once little people start showing up in your house (because they just appear, right?) you'll find that you have so many reasons and excuses not to take the time for yourself. Plus, the more fit you are before pregnancy, the better off you'll be!!! Stay positive and go with it...full speed ahead!!!

CONGRATS of the super successful shopping trip! It always feels great to "have to" purchase smaller clothes and I'm sure gives you great motivation! And to follow it up with that wonderful restaurant find...WooooHoooooo, Well Done Girl!!!

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KATHIERAE 10/12/2011 9:13PM

    "It'll never be this easy again" emoticon I love that one the most, because it is SO TRUE!!! No matter what age we are at, we are all getting older, and it's always easier when younger...

I am so JEALOUS of the new restraunt! It sounds fantastic!! emoticon emoticon

Have fun with your six months, and beyond! emoticon

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ELLYFINT 10/12/2011 8:21PM

    Hey Jen, this blog really is so different in spirit from your previous one, and I'm glad to read of your new motivation and concrete plans to achieve your goals :)

The pants purchase and healthy dinner discovery are the super-cherries on top! Enjoy!

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JMUCKINHOUPT 10/12/2011 8:09PM

    You are being so positive. You are an inspiration.

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ROCKINMOM77 10/12/2011 4:13PM

    We tried for several years to get pregnant with our last (4th) son and as soon as I lost 30 pounds, I was pregnant. I honestly have to say it was thanks to the weight-loss that made it happen. This time with my weight loss journey, I was having panic attacks about getting pregnant so hubby is getting snipped on the 28th!! Good Luck to you!! emoticon

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LOTUSFLOWER 10/12/2011 3:13PM

    You are in such a great position to lose the weight NOW, and you're right, it's so important to be a healthy mom. I love your rewards system and that restaurant sounds fabulous! emoticon

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KT-NICHOLS-13 10/12/2011 2:55PM

    Wooo Hooo for new pants at a great price. (Okay, a tolerable price) I bet you will feel all sassy and fabulous when you wear them too.

Sounds like your new favorite restaurant is focused on good food prepared well. The bonus, calorie information. Both your meals sound awesome.

Loving your positive attitude!

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DIXIED88 10/12/2011 2:37PM

    Double win!!! Love this blog! Good luck on all your adventures. You can do anything you set your mind too!

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KITHKINCAID 10/12/2011 2:28PM

    That restaurant sounds divine! I'd love to try that - and I think ALL restaurants should post calorie counts. Makes life so much easier.

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Reset My Ticker

Friday, October 07, 2011

I started out 2011 very strong, losing 10 pounds by February. Since then I've only dropped 3 real pounds, losing and gaining the same pounds over and over again. And I'm heartily sick of it. While I love all the positive comments on my friend feed every time I lose a pound, it also disheartens me because I know that I'm truly only re-losing the same pound I re-gained last week.

This week I reached a new level of frustration. I have been reasonably diligent about keeping to my simplified program but it's not enough. It's time to level up. Losing inches is great, but the pounds have GOT TO GO. I'm more than halfway to goal weight, but the remaining fluff just doesn't want to budge. So I'm going on the offensive. I changed my ticker to show how many pounds I have left (27). I will update only with pounds lost, not the occasional (and inevitable) gain so that it accurately reflects how far I have to go - and I stop fooling myself and others into thinking that I'm losing more than I am by a deceptive friend feed. I will redouble my efforts on both fitness and food tracking. So far this month I've done pretty well at both. But the name of the game now needs to be CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY.

Why, after so many months, am I doing this now?

emoticon YOOVIE's blog about fear of success really resonated with me and got me thinking about why I've stalled out.

emoticon DH and I are seriously talking about trying to start a family in the spring. And I am NOT where I want to before I get pregnant. Pregnancy will be much easier if I am slimmer and in better physical condition.

emoticon I want to only have to worry about baby weight after giving birth, not baby weight plus the other stuff I was carrying before pregnancy.

emoticon A while back KITHKINCAID shared in a blog that one of her secrets to success is only updating her weight when she loses, not when she gains. It's a way of saying "Eh, temporary gains happen. Get over it and move forward." Plus it feels more honest to me and I want that right now.

emoticon I finally am just at breaking point with the constant 3-pound up-and-down wobble. Sick to death.

[deep breath] Okay. Resetting the ticker is a great first step. But I also have to get it MOVING. To do this I will:

emoticon Religiously track my food. No matter if it's difficult, annoying, or I just don't wanna. Do it anyway.

emoticon Do some sort of fitness activity every day. Like I said in my last blog, walking, yoga, and Wii fit count because I'm trying to work on flexibility, hand-eye coordination, and agility. But they only count if I am also doing 3 heart-pumping cardio sessions and 2 ST sessions a week.

emoticon Level up the ST. What I am doing now just isn't working me hard enough. The trainer at the gym at work has a reputation for bad-a$$ ST routines. I'm going to go talk to him and see what he can do for me.

emoticon Track my calories burned for a few weeks of consistent fitness, average it out, and update my nutrition goals accordingly.

This had better work: if it doesn't, I don't know what will. Does anyone have any other suggestions? I'd really love to hear them!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELLYFINT 10/12/2011 7:32PM

    Hey Jen! While I can empathize with the frustration, I feel like you're being very hard on yourself. Having said that, it's GREAT to mix things up and toughen your routines when you've hit a plateau...just don't beat yourself up about it! The steps you've outlined to bust the blues are reasonable and very sound... GOOD LUCK!!!

Family talk sounds exciting :) Sending y'all my best wishes!

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LOTUSFLOWER 10/10/2011 11:37AM

    emoticon I loved that blog by Yoovie, too, and I like Jenn's ticker methodology too. You've GOT THIS. That's so exciting you're talking about starting a family. That will be one of the biggest motivators you will find.

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DITZYCHICK 10/10/2011 10:13AM

    Girl...I think you're being way too hard on yourself. Put on a smile and hold your head high. You're doing great!!! I think it's great that you've reset your tracker because you need to keep yourself in the positive and focus on how far you've come. Think about the changes you've made in your lifestyle with nutrition and fitness! Reflect on the before you in comparison to the healthy person that you've become!!! I like your plan and I'm hoping good things for you sweetie!!!

Also...I'm so excited for you and your husband with all this expanding family talk!!! It's so wonderful that you're taking care of you and planning your family! I'm really looking forward to following you along your journey!!!

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KATHIERAE 10/7/2011 11:22PM

    I think your plan sounds great!! I need to cut and paste it for myself... Like on my bathroom mirror!! emoticon

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KITHKINCAID 10/7/2011 1:45PM

    It works! Seriously. But then you become like me and start talking to your scale and offering to bribe it for a lower number. Doesn't work. Damn thing. Hehe.

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KT-NICHOLS-13 10/7/2011 12:55PM

    Shades of my life and way of thinking. If I find the magic key I'll share it with you!

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NANNER2121 10/7/2011 12:41PM

    Although this is no consolation, remember you are not alone and most of us have the same yoyo that you are experiencing right now.
Make a plan - which I see you have already done - and stick to it but be prepared to modify in order to keep the body guessing.
Sending positive energies your way.

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HAMMLIN 10/7/2011 12:32PM

    I feel you with the same 3 pounds over and over- I've been in that rut since last November.
Kudos to you for busting out!

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