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The Keeper of the Key to the Locks

Monday, December 01, 2008

I am back, from Thanksgiving, of course. And, eh, it was nothing exciting. That's not necessarily a function of how the holiday was. Rather, it is how I personally feel.

I am sliding into a downward spiral.

It's not anything really, really awful. I am still doing what I am supposed to be doing. I am still eating right, exercising, making good choices and performing portion control. I am just tired and bored. I am riding a lower wave. It happens.

It is a lot of things and there are a million reasons. One very large one is seasonal affective disorder. It is something I contend with every year and this year is no exception. The absolute darkest part of the year is about 3 weeks away and I really, really feel it. I had skipped taking St. John's Wort for a few days for Thanksgiving and I am paying for it. I'm back on it but it's disturbing to know that my mood is so profoundly affected by just skipping the herb for maybe five days instead of the usual two for the weekend.

Another reason is Thanksgiving itself. It is, unlike any other holiday, completely centerpieced around food. And I could neither make nor bring anything, which by itself bothered me. And then of course it is, well, it's not deprivation, but it is separateness. I don't enjoy separateness, oh no, she can't have THAT. And that's not true and it's not fair. It's that I am making choices, not that I am hurting or depriving myself. And then there's other weirdnesses. Being offered leftovers even though I'd made it clear that I wouldn't be eating them. And then being offered them again. And a third time. Oy.

I expected to be shooed out of the kitchen, but I did not expect how it would make me feel. I really disliked that. I am getting used to having control over my foods or at least some say in the matter, and have gotten to like that. Even though I knew what was being cooked, I could not witness or be a part of anything going on, except when I was finally called in, in order to peel potatoes. Then later I pulled out what I was going to eat and that was that. That was the extent of my participation in the entire preparation and presentation of the meal.

I realize that I should be thankful for family and hospitality, etc., but like I said I am simply tired and in a foul mood. Of course I expressed gratitude while there and did my best to not cop an attitude. It was also a raging TOM (which is over now) and that was not helping things one whit.

Another reason is, and this is ludicrous, but there you have it, something that happened online this morning. I run a forums website when I am not sparking, and there is a topic about food diarying. I do it as do about ten or so other people. One is a serious weight loser (she's already lost 100+ lbs. and maintained it for a good year and is now trying to take off the last 50 or so) and another is a marathoner. Plus others are in various states of vegetarianism or whatever. It is generally a supportive group and no one goes off on anyone's choices. No one screams, "What the hell are you thinking, eating 17 chocolate chip cookies?"

Except for this one person.

This person has decided that I am killing myself by dieting.

This person has been told, more than once, that I am under a doctor's care and am doing this with not only my doctor's permission and blessing, but at her urgent insistence.

This person has been told that I am on alli and so my weight loss is more rapid than most people's.

This person has been told to butt out repeatedly.

It does not seem to matter.

Today or last night, this person again railed about how my friend and I are doing just so many horrible things to ourselves, and said that we were subsisting on gruel.


I responded.

I guess pizza, chicken, pasta, bread, salads, soup and guacamole are all gruel. Amazing. I had no idea the definition had changed so dramatically.

I suppose I should not have gone off the way I did, but I am tired of this. This person seems to go hypercritical about once per quarter. Hence I could've let it go and let it happen again in 3 months or so. After all, going off or not going off does not seem to make one whit of difference.

But I did, and I hate doing that, but I felt I had to.

So I am weary from that as well, from justifying my choices and defending what I (and my friend) do.

And, to add to the fun, I walked like crazy last week, watched the portions and was austere as hell during Thanksgiving and I still gained 1.8 lbs. What kills me is that I actually lost inches, in almost all of the places where I measure. Right now that's kinda sustaining me. That and a friend on Facebook sending me all sorts of silly stuff. Nothing earth-shaking, just paying some attention.



A downward spiral.

I don't think it's a particularly steep spiral.

And I know I'll start to feel better once the solstice is done and the light begins to return. And this person will not bother me for months. And Thanksgiving isn't for another year. And, really, it's a test of this whole experience. I can do this when I'm happy. Can I sustain it even when I'm not? There's the question.

But right now I'm just tired, and all I want to do is withdraw.

When you see me on the subway, I'll be down at the end of the car.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 12/5/2008 8:50AM

    Aw, thank you, sweetheart.

The person apologized, kinda, actually it's more that they backpedaled and said they were concerned that my friend and I won't be able to do maintenance.

Welllll, we are big girls (although we're becoming smaller by the second). We will handle maintenance like we handle (or don't handle) anything else. Plus a lot of this journey, this piece of the process, at least for me, is an improvement in my cooking skills and creativity. Any way you slice it, maintenance won't have a lot of restaurant meals attached to it and I can't just drown everything in olive oil or salt in order to make it acceptable. So I need to get better at such things, and I think I am.

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SUMITH2008 12/5/2008 2:05AM

    You need to fire that person, whoever that certain person is who is putting you down. No point surrounding yourself with people like that. Sometimes i wonder, if people just enjoy praying on others for their sick personal enjoyment like a vampire. You stay strong my friend, your doing fabulous and as a spark friend I'm thrilled with your success. *hugs*

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JESPAH 12/2/2008 11:47AM

    Good idea re the lights. Plus mushrooms. I am eating a lot of them. 'Sokay, I love 'em.

Hang ten, baby!

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VEEJAY3 12/2/2008 10:45AM

    "riding a low wave" -- nice image. I've ridden a low wave before. Another is always behind it -- bigger and better. Hang ten!

and in the meantime -- have you tried those full-spectrum lights? People with SAD use them to simulate real sunshine ... they have different UV rays or something ... anyway, I used to work at a store that sold them (health food store) and they seemed quite popular. Google the idea and see if you like!

Here's to the spring equinox!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SISNAMIL 12/2/2008 10:39AM

    that is really crappy that no one would let you help with anything except peeling spuds. as for the 'she can't eat ....' do they not realize that if you watch what you are doing you CAN eat what ever you want, you just DON"T eat it?

as for you forum group, some people just have spells when they need to b***h. especially if things aren't going so well for them at the moment.

i understand the SAD problem. i had managed to avoid it so far this year by moving my desk under the east window. until saturday. now it is waxing and waning depending on the weather. i too am counting the days till spring.

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JESPAH 12/2/2008 9:14AM

    Em, I think you're right, that there may be folks who feel that whatever they eat is being judged. And that should not be happening. My buddy with the 100+ pound loss also said something. It was just so out of line. Funny what you say about needing a coach -- the thing of it is, I am the head of the Moderators. I am the equivalent of the coach. But we've all known each other for up to 8 or 9 years so I guess it's dysfunctional at this point. :)

Your line about you wearing my pants made me laugh, and I realized I was feeling a tad better. Some of it is routine disruption, I suppose. Getting out of what's familiar and comfortable and then being thrust into something else. Plus you have the family dynamic and that's not necessarily a perfectly positive thing.

And, I admit it, I can overdramatize these things. What I need, desperately, is a break. And not just a one-day deal, but something longer. I am going to get one during the last week of the year so that should help. I intend to paint my exercise nook. Purposeful activity is good, plus it's for something good for me. I'll see about taking some before and after pics of it. Right now the room looks pretty awful.

Thank you all for your support. :)

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    You look deep inside and sometimes I think you might be too hard on yourself and others. I am not trying to tell you that I know anything about what you are going through. I don't think I have ever been as down as you say. I have been down pretty low but that is when I am feeling sorry for myself and I try not to let that happen. I am so lucky but everyone feels down sometimes. I really hope that you feel better and just have a little fun.

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TELERIE 12/1/2008 7:18PM

    I know how you feel in the darkness, but it WILL get light again and I'm sending you a sunny smile. You're doing great. And you'll keep on keeping on! And she probably deserved being "talked to" if she's butting in where she has no business butting.
emoticon Marit

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EMMASMART 12/1/2008 7:02PM

    How about sending her a link to this blog. Context is everything. Also if it is a policy of the group not to comment on what other people are eating then isn't she violating. A coach might help. i think if it happens again you might want to pop inappropriate. Because what's infuriating you might be making the posting impossible for others. They may worry that they are being judged.

Mushrooms are filled with Vitamin D. Can you get some?

At thanksgiving I think there might have been some meat in my food. I've been queasy since. My DH was not with me and wondered if in fact I had had some meat by mistake based on my symptoms. It's not impossible. So I totally understand how you feel about not having control at dinner. I'm always sick after Thanksgiving and I am starting to wonder if it is not worth it.

Don't let it get you down. You are my hero. I'm wearing your pants. Hang in there!


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And So We'll Argue and We'll Compromise

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Like many, many other Sparkers, I am about to embark upon Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, my husband and I depart for Manhattan, to have the meal at his parents' apartment. We'll return on Friday. I have no idea if/how much I'll spark between now and Saturday.

In the meantime, it's time to confront some demons. Well, maybe not demons. But to confront some different situations. Now, I have been on diets during holidays before, and the reaction of other family members -- despite how much I tell them that I am fine, I'm doing this for my health, etc., is often either a conscious or unconscious effort to get me to eat more or eat something I don't want, or to look at me with pitying eyes as if I were a starving child in Biafra.

Sheesh, people, get a grip.

I am eating as healthfully as possible. And after a lot of trimming and digging and requesting, I've gotten the meal down to under 1,000 calories and under 19 grams of fat. The fat grams are important because I am going to roll the dice and take alli. I hope there's no hidden fat lurking around. I don't enjoy treatment effects.

It's not an effort to sabotage me or anything. It's nothing malicious. It's more like a lot of details have to be attended to and I'm just another detail. I fully expect something to be forgotten or somehow altered. Again, this is not done to hurt me, it's more because there's so much going on and it's so overwhelming.

Oh, I will help as I can. But you need to recognize that this is a prewar Manhattan apartment. It doesn't have much of a proper kitchen with modern appliances. It's more like a toy kitchen, and the stove may very well be almost as old as my husband. Plus the stove is unreliable in terms of temperatures so cooking times are going to vary according to, I dunno, the phases of the moon.

The stove is so small that a good third of the meal is being prepared across the hall in a neighbor's apartment. As for where the neighbors are preparing their own meal, I have no idea. Perhaps there's some sort of Manhattan cultural exchange program, where everyone makes some of their dinner elsewhere in one cosmic, eight million-plus linked culinary daisy chain. Somewhere in Bensonhurst, someone is making their stuffing in the Bronx and their cranberry sauce is being constructed as far North as Poughkeepsie.

But I digress. It will work. It always does, although there's stress involved. I am bringing oatmeal, and flavor sticks for water, and my water bottle and some dried fruit snacks if I really get stumped. I've planned out my eats anyway, though it's possible that some of it will alter as we go along. I'm bringing the resistance bands and the small wristlet weights, and will hunt around for heavier weights while there. There is Riverside Park down the street. Columbia is close, too, so there are lots of places to walk (with hills!). The weather is supposed to be clear and somewhere in the 40s. My husband is psyched to walk around with me.

And, I have some major things to be thankful for. I don't know how many remember, but months ago I reported that a very close relative was ill. That relative has finished treatment and seems better. Doctors hesitate to use words like "cured" (and they kind of can't, as this was a second recurrence already), but everything is very optimistic, and no followup is scheduled until after the first of the year.

I am, of course, grateful to be so far along on this journey, and feeling so good doing it. I fret and I overanalyze and I rationalize but the truth is that I kind of like all of the mechanics of it and also am pleased with how seamlessly I think it will eventually work with Maintenance, although Maintenance is still many months from now. But it seems plausible and eminently doable.

I am grateful for the support my family has given me. My husband has been very good about not only walking with me but also about not pushing me to overdo it. This is a level of patience that perhaps was absent earlier. I don't know if it's that I've become more assertive in making sure that the pace fits what I need or that he's better at reading what's needed and responding to it but, either way, it works. My folks and inlaws have consistently cheered every milestone. Smaller clothes magically appear ("Oops, I bought this but didn't like it. Maybe you'd like it?") with all sorts of odd little pretexts but I accept them all gratefully.

I am grateful for my friends and their support. For M__, who listens and makes me laugh and keeps my spirits up. For A__, who asks her friends for clothes for me. For the other A__, who told me (at 246 lbs.) that I didn't even look like I was 200. For the other M__, who can't stop raving about how I look. For V__, who gets a little inspired to watch a bit for himself. For S__, who watches even more. For R__, who I swear was checking me out. For D__, who wants to walk with me. For the folks on my site who share their food journals and their exercise diaries and who encourage not only me, but each other.

And for all of you, you wily ole Sparkers. For the Scandinavian and Floridian connections. For the Pi Phis. For the Quirk Universe. For the Done Girls and Guys. For the 80s Music Lovers. For the Yammies. For the Sudoku folks. For the Bostonians. For Red Sox Nation. For the Kind Buddies. For the many sweet people who've commented on my page and blogs, and who have inspired and pushed and cared for me (and for each other) on their own pages and blogs.

Who knows what the weigh-in after will bring? Maybe it'll all pay off. Maybe it won't. Maybe I won't be able to stick to it. Maybe I will, but there will be something unaccounted for. Maybe I'll stick to it and it'll be exactly as advertized. Maybe the exercise won't happen. Maybe there will be too much. Maybe a lack of rest or too much rest or sunspots or whoever wins the big football game will decide on how that goes. Take it as it comes. It's all you can do.

Because, on balance --

It's either sadness or euphoria ...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 11/28/2008 6:33PM

    Oh my.

Thank you both.

Emma, I'm glad things are fitting.

And thanks, LL.

Got home after a very nasty TOM and a lot of exercising (mainly to avert seriously bad crampage).

I kept more or less in range. Gotta run and get me some dinnah.

Monday will tell the tale.

In the meantime, I am soooooo beat.

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EMMASMART 11/27/2008 2:56PM

    You remember the blank pants with the elastic in the back. They are finally fitting. So Thank you for doing that. Once by one I will fit into the treasures you have sent. I am ever so slowly bringing up the rear (Heh heh) So today I am thankful for YOU!


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LAB-LOVER 11/26/2008 6:30PM

    Ah you've picked one of my favorite songs... "and so we stand upon the ledges of our lives, with our respective similarities..."

Good luck with the family turkeys -- I MEAN family AND turkeys tomorrow. This journey is truly one day... one meal... one choice at a time!


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JESPAH 11/26/2008 6:40AM

    Thanks! You have a good time, too.

Actually, I'm enjoying (that's a rather loose use of that word) a bout of PMS.

This is gonna be an interesting time.


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KARBIE18 11/25/2008 7:13PM

    Hey Jes,

Great blog, as usual. Have a wonderful holiday, and try not to worry TOO much about the weight loss. Enjoy your time with family.

Have fun!

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JESPAH 11/25/2008 2:32PM

    Thank you all. I'm truly overcome.

Moe -- my inlaws are 10 blocks from where you lived. Check your microwave. They might be cooking the squash in there.

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TELERIE 11/25/2008 1:21PM

    I love your blogs!! I've told you before, I relish each word and you always always have something wonderful to say! Love the culinary daisy-chain! We had our version of that last Saturday when our neighbors borrowed our stove (and invited us for dinner). Great fun!
And YOU my friend, I'm grateful for you and I hope your holiday goes BETTER than planned, like VEEJAY says. Enjoy and see you when you get back!
- Marit

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MOEDANCING 11/25/2008 12:52PM

    Jes... always a good thought...always something to ponder...always relishing each word as a delectable morsel... leaving us with the requisite..."please sir...can I have some more?"

this one...the Manhattan cultural exchange far as Bensonhurst and somewhere in Poughkeepsie...

woman...I was laughing so hard you brought tears to my eyes

I lived at 94th and riverside...and walking the paths of that park...some of the joys of my life

thank you jes

happy and joyous holiday to you and your family

you are a blessing to us all

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VEEJAY3 11/25/2008 11:30AM

    You're a great writer! I just loved this blog. And laughed out loud at the daisy-chain of holiday food preparation. You're a riot.
I hope your holiday goes as you planned -- BETTER than you planned.

And PS: My daughter's a Pi Phi. And my neighbor. And two of my best friends. Every Pi Phi I know is a stellar woman.

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JESPAH 11/25/2008 10:35AM

    I recall when my husband went to his first family event with me (he was still the future Mr. Jespah then) and my mother pointed out my cousins, uncles and aunts to him and said, "These are the thin ones. The rest died young.". And those people were not so thin.

But I knew what she was talking about. Her uncles had all been these 5 x 5 guys, as wide as they were tall and probably wider. It wasn't until one of them was wasted away from pancreatic cancer that I realized that he was tall.

Tragic, and oh so preventable.

I think they're getting it.

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SISNAMIL 11/25/2008 9:35AM

    well above all have a good time! i love the bit about the cosmic daisy chain! i can sooo see that happenning!

as for pushing you to eat more, food is a love language for many families. I know it was in mine (as the size of my tuchus shows). it sounds though like you may be well on your way to changing that with your inlaws and parents.

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Clowns To the left of Me, Jokers To the Right

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's time for the month in review. Since this one is probably as close as any one of these that I'm going to do for the middle of my journey, well, that's the reason for today's song.

It's been exactly 10 months since I started taking alli. 10 days before that I started portion control and 10 before that I started working out. So much has changed, it's hard to know where to begin, so I'll start with the numbers.

Current #s, taken on 11/17/08:

* Bicep 13.75 down .25" Personal Best
* Bust 44.50 down 1.5" Personal Best
* Band 38 down 1" Personal Best
* Waist 39 down 1.25" Personal Best
* Belly 44.25 down 1" Personal Best
* Hip 45.75 up .25"
* Butt 50.50 up 1.25"
* Thigh 24.25 up .25"

Original #s, on 1/9/08:

* Bicep 19" highest
* Bust 54.75" actual highest was 55" on 2/25/08
* Band 47.5" highest
* Waist 49" highest
* Belly 59.5" highest
* Hip 51" actual highest was 54.5" on 2/18/08
* Butt 64" highest
* Thigh 32.25" actual highest was 32.5" on 3/3/08

Differences from highest to current
* Bicep down 5.25"
* Bust down 10.5"
* Band down 9.5"
* Waist down 10"
* Belly down 15.25" WOW!
* Hip down 8.75"
* Butt down 13.5" WOW!
* Thigh down 8.25"

Overall Average Inch Difference: 10.125"
Overall Average Inch Difference (bicep and thigh not considered): 11.25"

It's no secret that I didn't do much exercising before starting. That much is true about most of the people here. My current regimen is lifting 25 lbs. every day and walking 6 out of 7 days (Sundays are a rest day). Most of the time I walk 30 minutes but on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I try to sneak in an extra 15 minutes or more.

Walking is easy, jogging is hard. I can't say my jogging is getting faster or easier or that I'm going farther because none of those things are true. I suspect that a lot of this has to do with the worsening weather. I only jog in the mornings (as I'm inevitably late so I'm trying to get to the bus stop faster) and when it's under freezing it is not a pleasant experience. I'll get better, I know I will, but I'm not there just yet.

Diet, Food and Portion Control
The biggest change is that I've added chicken soup to my diet. Homemade of course. I am doing it with nearly no salt. One challenge is to make matzoh balls that are tasty, low salt and low fat, and not the consistency of rubber. Not quite there yet. Having a third weekly go-to meal is a big help in terms of generating more overall food variety. Plus it helps to keep me interested in what I'm doing.

Thanksgiving is going to be a challenge. There is no getting around that. After all, it is centered on food, particularly if you're not a college football fan. I'll persevere. The main issues will be salt and carbs. Fat won't be too much of an issue but I'll be vigilant about it just the same, mainly because it may be lurking in some areas where I don't expect it to be. I will take alli, even for the Thanksgiving meal -- I am dancing with who brung me, so to speak.

The following holidays are actually less of issue except for any traveling we may do. Since Xmas is not celebrated by my husband or me, there are few food temptations. Latkes are nice but I can do without if I have to. I know that next year or the year after, when I am on maintenance, things will be a bit different, but right now I'll mainly just avoid and that'll work.

I continue to battle the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder and my own boredom. After all, I've been doing this for quite a while, so it can get a bit tiring. Some of that is wrapped up in boredom with my work situation so I need to be certain to separate those out in my mind. Boredom at my job will not be cured by my eating more.

I started this journey at a size 28 or 4X (pants) and size 26 or 3X (shirts). I am currently an 18 or XL for both, with the tops getting a bit loose. I fit into some L tops but that's touch and go as sizes can vary among manufacturers and I am on the cusp of getting out of women's sizes when it comes to tops, so the cut is different. I am confident that I will fit into all Larges in two months, possibly a lot sooner than that. The pants are a little loose, and the stretchier ones can sometimes (with a little effort) be put on without unfastening. Not to jump the gun or anything but in two months or less, 18 pants are probably going to feel like 26s do now.

Future Plans
Since I lose, on average, about 11 lbs. per month, I suspect that rate will slow down a bit. But even if it goes to 9 lbs. per month I can still finish getting to healthy BMI before the end of calendar year 2009. Again, not to jump the gun or anything. If it takes longer, well, it takes longer.

My 2009 goals are beginning to take shape, and include about 15 minutes more of walking every day (even on long walk days) and eventually moving from 25 lb. weights up to 40, in a gradual process, of course. Diet goals are mainly to make it to healthy BMI, but it may be a good idea to incorporate more into my cooking repertoire, particularly if these are things I can make in the slow cooker.

The really big middle of the road milestone occurred late last month, when I recorded a 100-lb, weight loss! Right now it is a struggle to push through the next 10. I'm down about 3 in the past three weeks, which is not a typical rate for me. Another couple of milestones were being named Done Girl of the Day and on the same day being named a Motivator. Those two things still make me smile.

On balance, I'm happy with my progress. I can see a major difference in my appearance and feel it in my energy levels. I find myself easily saying no to unhealthy foods and yes to exercise.

Stick around for next month's report. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CATHM26 11/24/2008 7:28AM

    good job!!

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JESPAH 11/23/2008 9:30AM

    Eek I love mushrooms.

Perhaps I love them too much.

Hello, my name is jes and I'm a mushroom-a-holic.

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EMMASMART 11/22/2008 9:10PM

    How do you feel about mushrooms. Mushrooms are full of Vitamin D which is what causes SAD. So if you like them eat them in winter...


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SUMITH2008 11/21/2008 3:09AM

    Way to Go! You got everything down to a system don't ya? I could definitely learn a lot from you. Keep up the good work, always love reading your thoughts and progress. I always smile when i see your background image, its just TOO KEWL *COOL*

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JESPAH 11/20/2008 11:57AM

    I think over 75% of my success is because of what I've been doing, rather than alli. I see it, these days, as being (a) a bit of help and (b) a reminder to be true to myself, my portions and what I need. The mantra I repeat is: you can't lie to alli -- but I bet you could figure out something different from that and still make it your mantra.

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CAREWREN 11/20/2008 10:49AM

    You have laid out what has happened thoroughly and clearly. I like it. It's inspiring. I will print out parts of it to (1) encourage me and (2) see what a factual rendition looks like.

Congratulations on the fantastic progress you have made.

I am reluctant to try Alli because I have tried so many things and I know Alli is half the strength (but for that reason perhaps safer) than the prescription was a few years back. I probably wouldn't mind the side effects since I have those kinds of things often from all the different things I have tried.

Again, congratulations! emoticon

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JESPAH 11/20/2008 8:00AM

    Definitely, let's -- bring the pooch :)

It's the Spark Posse.

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LAB-LOVER 11/20/2008 7:21AM

    Congratulations! I do regret sometimes that I never measured myself when I started. But it's ok. And YOUR losses are incredible! While my weight loss has slowed considerably and I feel like I have to fight for every half pound, I'm continuing to improve in my running and gain muscle tone. I am looking forward to 2009 too -- as the year that I become "normal." Glad you're still on track!

Let's do it!


Comment edited on: 11/20/2008 7:19:38 AM

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JESPAH 11/19/2008 6:50PM

    Aw, you'll make me blush!

I'm glad to be walking this journey with you, too. :)

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TELERIE 11/19/2008 6:31PM

    I'm going to stick around, rest assured! I intend to shrink, buy new clothes, exercise more and more, struggle with food, no doubt be bored and stressed from time to time and keep on keeping on. I am really looking forward to spending 2009 in your company with more exercise and learning about your successes and your struggles while dealing with my own of the same. I'm glad I'm walking this walk and with people like you, you are so inspiring!

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For One Heart To Carry On

Monday, November 17, 2008

I thought of this song because I've got a little over 96 lbs. to go to hit my big goal. And then I heard that line, the one I put in the title, and thought that would be a good idea for an entry.

I saw my friend on Saturday. For anyone who has not been reading along in the continuing saga of my life, my friend (in this context) is the fishmonger.

Of course I have other friends (and I'm sure he does, too), but he's unfailingly kind, pleasant and patient with me, and also knows his stuff. I have trouble making friends and so it's a delight to me to just know somebody new and different and have them (apparently) like me, too. He does seem to go out of his way for me a lot, whether it's to get me something special or just listen to me gab or make sure that no one else waits on me. He also gabs back and I hear about his dreams, how he really doesn't want to be a fishmonger forever, and how the corporate world of food sales is little different from where I work in terms of the kind of BS you go through every day.

I was thinking about all of that because over the weekend my sorority had their initiation. Now, I was initiated years ago but I am a mentor to a girl who was getting initiated. Well, I missed it. By an entire day! I totally blew it!

I felt terrible about it, and sent her an apology note immediately. That much is not what I'm talking about. What I am talking about is, well, I was supposed to be there, there were records of same, I did not show, and apparently no one either noticed or cared. Certainly not enough to follow up in any way.

We are talking about less than 50 people here.

I recognize that, despite the size of my ego, I am not the center of the universe. So them not trying to at least find out if I'd met my maker on Massachusetts Avenue is, I suppose, par for the course. But it does make me wonder, because sororities and the like are touted as being lifetime friendships.

I made decent sorority friends in college but we have all drifted apart. I know some here on Spark and they are lovely ladies. But ever since I became an alum, I haven't had any real closeness in that area.

That's not the only area without closeness.

Two jobs ago, we all bonded beautifully, and many of us stay in touch. It still feels good and right. I remember saying to my boss, on our last day together as coworkers (the department was split up when the company was bought), "I figured when I started here I'd have a few laughs. I didn't expect to fall in love with everybody." And she understood exactly what I meant, and said she felt the same.

Friends from one job ago? Maybe two or three but not at that level. And at this job, none. Pleasant enough people, but no one to confide in. No one to really spend time with and discuss much of anything other than work. No one I want to see outside of the office. No one who I'd cry to if there was a tragedy in my life. No one I'd really miss if I were laid off tomorrow.

No one here knows that I write. They barely know that I watch my weight. They know I used to be a lawyer, but they don't know that I can cook. They don't know me.

And they won't know me. I can't see making that step and forging that bond.

I guess I don't bond that deeply with a lot of people. I bond in degrees. Deepest to my husband, of course, and my family, but also to some friends (this includes some online folk) and then there are good acquaintances and more removed ones and then after that I suppose we're in the realm of the UPS delivery guy and the people we all see on TV. Remote and isolated. Never, ever allowed into the castle. Even if they ask nicely.

Maybe I'm picky. Maybe I'm snobby. Maybe I'm too reserved. Maybe I'm trying to make up for sometimes seeming to be too needy. Maybe I just don't want them to see my messy house. And, by extension, my messy life.

I don't know.

But I do know that there are not a lot of people outside of my family who I'd want supporting me at a funeral, or visiting me in the hospital if I was very sick.

It's funny. A woman I went to Summer camp with over 30 years ago found me online, and we have talked on the phone and we email a lot and I feel that closeness there, even though, frankly, she and I weren't all that close way back when. But it feels like we are, now.

I know with friendship it is quality and not quantity, and I fully subscribe to that. I also know that, at age 46, bonding is different from what it was when I was 16 or even 36.

There was a book out a few years ago called, "He's Just Not That Into You". It was about dating relationships but it could really be about any kind of relationship, I suppose. It could have also been called "He Doesn't Really Care About You" or "He's Really Interested in Someone or Something Else". Not to pick on men. Women do this, too.

I'm tired of that treatment.

I know that we are all busy people and, like I said, I am not the center of the cosmos. But I don't want to put out my heart for people to simply forget I'm there, or not care one way or the other.

How can you tell when someone's into you?

It's easy.

They communicate without prompting, or without much prompting. They smile at you. They listen to you. They care about what you like and dislike; those things interest them. They give of their time. They don't check their watches or look around for the next great stimulus. You may not be the center of their world but at least for a while you can be the center of their attention.

Perhaps this is all obvious to everyone but me. But one piece of this journey is positivism. To be around people who don't try to drag me down. To listen to uplifting conversations and take part in them. To feel good after spending time with someone, instead of wondering why something else didn't get done.

Not a lot of people fit that bill on the deeper levels, but some are, I suppose, getting there.

Take friendship where you find it, in whatever form and whatever manner it is offered, because it is rare and special and meaningful. Because it is so valuable. Because it one of the greatest things any of us can ever have, and it helps make life worth living.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 11/24/2008 1:21PM

    Thank you darlin' -- I've missed the swimming shoats!

It's funny, I saw my friend last weekend for about a half a second and he was kinder to me and happier to see me than a lot of people are. Hmm maybe it's me ...

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SISNAMIL 11/24/2008 12:37PM

    oh, honey, i'm sorry i missed this when you posted it. (kinda been out of the loop)

i have to tell you that i have missed your sense of humor and when i had a few minutes to myself one of the first things i knew i had to do was catch up on your blogs.

btw for no one to have noticed you weren't at the initiation was just rudeness on their part. just proves that a good education is no guarantee of good manners.

Comment edited on: 11/24/2008 12:36:28 PM

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JESPAH 11/19/2008 6:16PM

    Yeah, y'know, it's hard enough to connect in the first place, and then our lives just get in the way. I'm really trying to make an effort to keep up with at least email, and call on occasion. Life intervenes way too much sometimes.

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SQUISSHY1 11/19/2008 5:20PM

    I have the same issue with my current job. I only work part time since I am still in school, but my last job was one amazing group of co-workers. We are all still great friends and when we hang out it's like we still see each other everyday, when it's not even every month. My current co-workers and I are not close at all. I have a few people that I talk to a little more than others, but there is no one I feel that is like me at all. The one person I did hang out with outside of work moved this past week to another state. Hmph... i really liked this entry! It makes me think about all of my amazing friends that I should call and meet up with :-)

Comment edited on: 11/19/2008 5:18:33 PM

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JESPAH 11/19/2008 9:33AM

    I think that's an interesting way to put it. I guess there are just some onions I don't want to peel, or at least, not just yet.

They may not want to be peeled, either.

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SUMITH2008 11/18/2008 7:55PM

    I'm sometimes shy, to approach people (maybe because you are not sure what to expect) and sometimes i wonder how many opportunities I've lost to meet great people. I used, to do Sales (and was very successful at it) and i never had any problems approaching people and some of my best friends happen to be people i have approached by accident when i was selling. Unless, you take a chance you never know who you will meet. I guess, its like peeling a onion with different levels to connect to. Sometimes we don't go deep enough to get to know someone till we hit that special level of connection.

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TRECECOOKS 11/18/2008 1:49PM

    What a beautiful piece, well-written and full of thought-provoking words.
What broke my heart is this paragraph:
"They communicate without prompting, or without much prompting. They smile at you. They listen to you. They care about what you like and dislike; those things interest them. They give of their time. They don't check their watches or look around for the next great stimulus. You may not be the center of their world but at least for a while you can be the center of their attention".
It does not describe my husband's way with me, and I feel so sad. I know that part of my being stuck with my weight-loss is because I am stuck in my life. . .

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JESPAH 11/17/2008 7:10PM

    What's amazing is, I called my Summer camp friend on Saturday, and after saying about three words to establish that I'd gotten her on the phone and not her daughter, we were laughing and joking around as if 30 minutes had gone by since we'd seen one another, not 30 years.

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TELERIE 11/17/2008 5:42PM

    This could have been written about me...
I cherish the friendship with two close friends I have had since high school. We see each other randomly, sometimes only 3-4 times/year, but we still have the same connection that we used to have. I also have some "online" friends I have met several times who are closer to me than the people I work with...
My dearest has more friends than I have, and I get a "share" in his friends, but I haven't made many really close friends of my own since becoming an adult. People who were close at university or from past jobs have drifted away.

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... And You're Flushed With Your Very First Success

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Be aware re the video that at about 1:33 Sting drops the f-bomb plus there's some odd/questionable imagery, particularly towards the end (it is, after all, Frank Zappa), so do be discreet and I'd recommend listing with headphones on if at work.

Okay, disclaimer is out of the way.

It's not murder by numbers, it's health by numbers.

Read 'em and weep.

We had health screenings at work today.

* Blood pressure: 125/72. Ideal is less than 120/80 but the # they seem to care more about is the second one, which is fabulous.
* Glucose (and I wasn't fasting!): 91. Ideal is below 110 so this is off the charts fabulous.
* Total cholesterol: 156. Ideal is under 200. I was 199 last year.
* HDL (good) cholesterol: 40. Ideal is over 40 so it could be slightly better but is still good.
* TC/HDL ratio: 3.9. Ideal is less than 4.5
* BMI: 39.4. Ideal is 18.5-24.9 so there's still a ways to go, but extreme obesity is 40 and up so I am now classified as obese for the first time in probably 10 years.
* Body fat percentage: 43.9. Ideal for females 40-59 years of age is 18-30%. Still a ways to go but improving. The nurse suggested interval training. She was REALLY impressed with my cholesterol #s.

Plus I got a flu shot.


I will go to my doctor in January. Man, she's gonna flip.

Hey, this stuff works.

WHO KNEW?!?!?!?!

Okay, you got me. We ALL knew. Deep down, we knew. But we put it off. Or we rationalized it. Or we wished it away and swept it under the rug.

Well I am here to tell you that once you confront that rug and turn it over, and stop putting it off, some truly amazing things can happen.

And the truly amazing thing is that this is in ALL of us. You, me and the postman. The annoying woman at work and the lunch lady and your government representative. Your father and your cousin and your niece and your landlady and a poet laureate and an accountant. A truck driver and a kindergarten teacher. A food service worker and a CEO.

It's as easy to learn as your A, B, C, D, E

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SNAPPEAS 11/17/2008 1:14PM

    Congrats on your improved health stats.I have been avoiding my primary care doctor like the plague because although he is knowledgeable,patient,and informative he is chronically late.I don't mean 15 minutes here or half an hour there .He is usually 1 1/2 hours late .The last time I visited his office he was 3 Hours late and all of his morning appointments were waiting for him.So, instead of leaving his office by at least 4pm I didn't leave until 7pm.He shares office space with another physician who does not allow eating nor drinking in the waiting room.I was admonished for trying to eat an Altoid and take a sip of water.The cherry on top is his medical assistant who is rude ,indifferent and has n't any people skills .
Sorry about the rant .Having said all of the above I realize I should not allow any of those circumstances stand in the way of being healthier and I need to have the numbers to know where I stand .

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JESPAH 11/14/2008 11:20AM

    Y'know, I had had a big cholesterol drop the year before (240 to 199) so I thought I was done with those. That one I got by eating out a lot less and doing some substitutions like cholesterol-lowering margarine and drinking skim instead of 1% milk. It didn't translate into weight loss but the numbers improved. Hence I figured, okay, I'd had the big health bounce and that would be it. I did not expect a second bounce.


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EMMASMART 11/14/2008 1:12AM

    Thanks for the concrete reasons to keep it up.


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KARBIE18 11/13/2008 8:55PM

    Yay! That's great news. I'm so glad your hard work has paid off. Being healthy is really what it's all about. Keep it up!


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SUMITH2008 11/13/2008 6:51PM

    Your doing fabulous! I bet, after losing 100 lbs your body is thanking you dearly. I've lost 25 lbs over the past 4 months, and it was hell! So easy to add lbs but so hard to get rid of it. So i can imagine, how hard you worked but what a awesome reward. Sometimes I wonder, why in the world do we neglect our bodies to the point it causes us harm. Glad, we changed our mindset eh :)

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JESPAH 11/13/2008 2:42PM

    Momentous momentum!!! I love it.

You're right, it's easy to spiral into a cycle of thinking you can't possibly do it.

Welllll, it ain't easy. It's not a switch you flip or anything truly brainless like that (you should see the negotiations I'm going through in order to get a Thanksgiving dinner that I won't feel too awful about the next day). But it's not impossible.

Getting out of the defeatist mindset is, I think, really, really key.

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TELERIE 11/13/2008 2:16PM

    WHO KNEW? The truth of it ... WE ... well *I* in any case... thought it was MUCH harder to just make a DENT in it - so much so that the whole NASTY PROBLEM sort of overwhelmed and depressed me on a daily basis into perpetuating the bad habits and inactivity, numbing my feelings with "comfort" food and a perpetual negative feedback loop took over from there.

I'm so impressed by your numbers! YOU'RE HEALTHY! You ROCK, my friend!
I'm so happy for positive feedback loops! I feel them working! I LOVE going to the doctor these days!

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