JESPAH   191,371
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JESPAH's Recent Blog Entries

The Thing We Need is Never All That Hard to Find

Monday, March 02, 2009

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm_tSqFbW0A

I'm finding I'm enjoying the Red Hot Chili Peppers more these days. It's because lyrics have always spoken to me (hence my blog titles!) and these days Anthony Kiedis has really been reaching me.

And this one's a doozy.

"No turning water into wine
No learning while you're in the line
I'll take you to the broken sign
You see the lights are blue

Come and get it
Lost it at the city limit
Say goodbye
Cause they will find a way to trim it
Everybody
Lookin' for a silly gimmick
Gotta get away
Can't take it for another minute"

Last week, my mother called me (which is nothing remarkable in and of itself) and told me that my cousin P___ would be calling me to ask about alli. It's not for P___, who is the size of a stick. It's for P___'s, daughter, S___. S___ is 16.

Welllll.

I told my mother, y'know, alli isn't candy. It's really not something you can just take and forget you've taken it. You have to plan your meals. You have to watch the fat intake. You have to remember to take it, and take it with you. It's not a miracle drug (no turning water into wine) even if you follow it perfectly. I've had gain weeks on alli (last week, for example). It's no magic bullet.

Plus I think that all that S___ really needs is to learn good habits and get some moral support. Not nagging from a tiny mother that she didn't even inherit the weight loss issues from (S___ is adopted). No. S___ really could use Spark People for Teens, actually. I'm looking for a good time/way to broach it. I've friended her on Facebook so hopefully I'll be able to communicate that way, without the maternal filters in place.

And I also got to thinking, because my weekends are often odd, what are hers like? I eat different things, and there's always at least one restaurant meal in the mix. Often more, as I tend to eat half of my restaurant meals these days, so it's the other half for the following day's lunch. And then there's fish! We eat it Friday or Saturday nights. Not for Lent (we're not Catholic), we just like fish, plus the fishmonger is very good and gives good recommendations so we try new things. Sundays are rest days for me. Saturdays I find fitness opportunities, e. g. last Saturday I ran errands. Sometimes I shovel snow. We try to do stufff together, too, if we can.

But what does a lonely teenager do?

Does she go to the movies, with the temptations of big bowls of popcorn and boxes of candy? Play video games? Do homework? Sit and just think and sigh and feel bad?

I remember those days all too well. I may be 46 years old but 16 is still burned into my brain. It's funny. I was reminded of 16 recently, not just because of the thing with S___ and her battles but also because this morning I stepped on the scale and I'd lost a total of 131 lbs. This is what I weighed when I was 16, almost exactly. So that old familiar pain (I was a lonely kid, despite having friends, I was remote where we lived and just withdrawn) came flooding back.

And I wonder if S__ feels it, too. If I can reach her -- if any of us can reach anyone in here or out there -- the answer, the magic bullet, the miracle drug, is to redefine your life so that your best friends are human beings rather than things on your plate.

"Tell me baby what's your story
Where you come from
And where you wanna go this time
Tell me lover are you lonely
The thing we need is
Never all that hard to find
Tell me baby what's your story
Where do you come from
And where you wanna go this time
You're so lovely are you lonely
Giving up on the innocence you left behind"

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 3/4/2009 5:39AM

    It kills me, it's obvious that it's P___ who's lost patience. And, I'm sure, not just in this area. Ai yi yi. Step into a minefield, anyone?

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WOLFKITTY 3/4/2009 3:38AM

    Oh my goodness.. I hope you're able to talk with her and that she's receptive. So many people think that they need to just find a quick and "easy" fix, they lose sight of the bigger picture.

Jocelyn

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JESPAH 3/2/2009 11:06AM

    Thank you, dolling. :)

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SWEETZMIX 3/2/2009 10:39AM

    Hopefully you will be able to reach out to her without the middle men or women so to speak. It's hard to deal with sO many issues at that age and then be over weight. I know I wasn't over weight back them but I thought I was. I had sO many issues.

You are a wonderful person and I know if you can find a way to reach out, u will!!

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In a Country Where They Turn Back Time

Monday, February 23, 2009

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM7LR46zrQU

Well, it's not really the Year of the Cat (although I was born during the Chinese Year of the Tiger). Rather, it's the Year of the Spark.

Yes, I've been on SP for a year. In fact, it passed 2 days ago. Plus it's time for the month in review. So here I am.

Now, I have been on Internet message boards for years so the whole community aspect does not surprise me (although it does, of course, delight me). I have found plenty of information online, too, so that does not surprise me although I am relieved that it essentially seems to be accurate (although I see a rather heavy bias against alli and I see things repeated that are simply not what's been within my realm of experience with it). I also know about social networking, which SP is, so that is nothing new. What works for me is not so much the newness as it is the coming together of many disparate parts. It is the putting together of knowledge plus community plus good tracking tools.

When I first started losing weight, one of the things that was daunting to me was all of the record-keeping. I love crunching numbers and making graphs but I really want it to be fun. Spark definitely does that. Spark is also good about bringing together a lot of news about health and picking through it to get to its essence. There are all sorts of studies out there on, say, fiber. Spark wades through it all and makes it easier to (ha!) digest.

Of course it is nothing without its people. I have been running a site for over 6 years so I know that the people make the site. You can twist the software inside out, change the logo and even change the name, and if the people are good you will still get an audience and things will be fabulous. And if the people aren't so good, it's a chore and a job and no fun. Spark attracts and retains good people, and keeps good ones on staff. There are areas that seem like they might be missing or incomplete (e. g. I'd love to see more things such as a weekly nutritional and exercise survey/calculator directed toward maintenance so that I could start to get into those habits, for example), but the IT staff seems to be very receptive to suggestions, which is excellent.

So, thank you Spark People, for making this journey better and easier and less of a slog. Let's face it, 200 lbs. is not easy to get off. You make it so much better, so much simpler, so much more fun. Thank you.

Now for the month in review.

I am up 2.0 lbs. this week but will not let it faze me. Eh, it happens. It's not too terribly long before TOM, plus I spent most of the weekend feeling like I was overeating (even though the portion sizes were no different from beforehand). Plus I worked out a lot last week -- whenever I step it up I either gain or stay the same. So, shrug, sobeit. No biggie. My overall weight loss is still over 126 lbs. Nothing to sneeze at. Not at all.

Measurements

Bicep 12.5" this morning, a new personal best
Bust 42", only 1/4" above my personal best
Band 37", 1" above the personal best
Waist 38.5"
Belly 42.25"
Hips 44.75", 1" above the personal best
Butt 47.25", 1/2" above the personal best
Thigh 24"

Overall differences:

Bicep down 6.5"
Bust down 12.75" -- over a foot!
Band down 10.5"
Waist down 10.5"
Belly down 17.25" -- WOW, almost a foot and a half!
Hips down 6.25" -- hmm
Butt down 16.75" -- fantastic!
Thigh down 8.25"

Average inches lost: 11.09"
Average inches lost with outliers (bicep and thigh) removed from equation: 12 1/3"

The hips are ... interesting. Actually, I can explain them readily. The reason why my hips have lost so little is the same reason that my belly has lost so much -- stuff has fallen. If you average those two losses, you get 11.75", which isn't too terribly far off from the overall average.

Attitude

I find fitness where I can these days. I clean, I go to the gym, I get in a walk, I shovel snow. Anything to get myself moving. Rest days (Sundays) are often odd for me. I know that I should rest (plus I tend to do better on the scale if I do), but sometimes it's not so easy. Sometimes I just want to move. Yesterday that meant cleaning.

Food and portion control are okay. I definitely felt, last week, Iike I was eating too much. But it was nothing different except some Chinese food (we hadn't had Chinese since I started dieting, and this had no sauce on it anyway). So, who knows. One way to combat that is by eating more calorie-dense foods, e. g. things like nuts which are good for you but offer a serious caloric bang for the buck. My eating habits are changing a bit but I think it's all to the good.

Sizes

Size 18 pants are loose on me but not falling down. Yet. 16s fit just fine. I was able to get a pair of size 14 jeans on yesterday but I had a serious muffin top so they are not quite ready for prime time. This also comes with the drop of the stuff that used to be belly and is now hip: it makes it harder to fit into smaller-sized pants even though the pant legs fit perfectly.

As for tops, I wear L and XL, mostly. There are some Larges that just plain don't fit, and often that seems to be a sleeve issue more than anything else. I still have rather large and loose triceps despite what I've been doing. They are better than they were (and my biceps and shoulders look great) but could be better.

Future Plans

All roads are going to eventually lead to plastic surgery. I know it. The skin is just not going to snap back in some miraculous way. It hasn't yet, and I work out every single day. Take off another 75 lbs. and the problem will only get worse. The loose skin is absolutely typical; it's not like I'm some weird medical anomaly or anything. I have loose skin. It happens.

I see it in my chin, my triceps, my thighs. But I mostly see it in my breasts and belly. Man oh man. Not a pretty site if I lean over, naked. Hence an abdominectomy and a breast reduction/lift are in my future.

My parents have offered to shoulder some of the cost and I will put in the full amount for flexible spending next year so at least it's paid for with before-tax dollars. Of course this is all contingent on whether my husband and I are still working next year. So far, so good.

I have every expectation that it will cost as much as a new car.

But I'm ready for it. We don't go on big vacations and don't buy fancy cars. The house is a few years from being paid off. I feel that it's a good investment, to clip off the last of the fat and skin and get it gone for good. I know that I mentally respond well to money being spent. It's as if it flips a switch in my head: I'm spending money on this, I need for it to work, it's serious. That is a part of why alli has helped me. It's not just what the drug does and that it keeps me honest with fat portion control. It's also that I've made an investment. And I want a good return on it.

I refuse to live with the Scarlet F emblazoned on my body for the rest of my days.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 2/27/2009 9:33AM

    Thank you, beautiful ladies! :)

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LAB-LOVER 2/26/2009 9:46PM

    Happy anniversary! You're making great progress... and you DEFINITELY don't have a scarlet "F"

How about a big S for Success!

-LL

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DETERMINED_ME 2/25/2009 11:15PM

    You are awesome! Such an inspiration!

emoticon
Tami

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WILDFLOWER- 2/25/2009 10:43AM

    I was traveling through Sparkpeople & found your blog & page. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments!! I love your attitude & sense of humour about it all. I think attitude is 95% of what will get you to any goal.

I've only recently started my journey - but I am inspired by you. Thank you for sharing & way to go!! emoticon

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SWEETZMIX 2/23/2009 11:06AM

    HEY GIRL, emoticon ON MAKING IT ON SPARK FOR OVER A YEAR!!

You are doing great. Just think back to how you were, how you lived your life a year ago. I know it's a total 360!!!! And the plastic surgery thing, ur right to some people it happens and the fact that you are preparing yourself so you will never have to go through this again is awesome. Keep working hard, those 14s will fit soon!!

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To Make That Day Last Long

Monday, February 16, 2009

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtaU3USDYC0

Personally, I find Valentines' Day to be kinda silly although when I was younger such was not the case.

Oh no. I bought right into the hype. Oh no! I need a man! I need love! I need to be completed somehow.

What a loada hooey.

I'm very complete by myself, thank you very much. I suppose that's a part of what happens when you hit 30, 40 and see them slide far away and into the distance. You realize that it's hype, it's junk, it's fantasy, it's stupid.

Now, perhaps you're saying, well jes, you wouldn't feel that way if you were alone. I dunno, perhaps you're a little bit right there, but I think flowers are lovely but don't need Hallmark to tell me when to send or receive them. Nor do I need cards to express my love although I do send them, but it's more about how the recipients feel (not just my husband but also my nephews, my brother, my brother-in-law and my father and father-in-law). If a few bucks' worth of cards and postage -- and my time -- makes them feel good, them I'm all for that.

I recall college, a gal devastated when Valentines' Day came and went and she was without a boyfriend. Well, she was without a boyfriend for the other 364 days of the year as well. I'm sure she didn't feel optimal on all of those days, either, but it was Valentines' Day when it all came to a head. Tears and everything. "Oh, I'm all alone!"

"No," I'd say, "I'm with you."

"But it's not the same!"

"Okay, well, it's not, but it's not nothing."

"But you see, I need this!"

"But you function just fine without it for most days. Not to say it's not good, but is it a need?"

"I need it!"

"Well, okay, maybe you do. But in the meantime, how about accepting what you have?"

I probably wasn't that wise at age 19 but I like to think I was. ;)

In any event, the bottom line is that, yes, romantic love is wonderful and should be celebrated, but there are plenty of folks without it and they are worthy of love and kindness as well. And if you cannot give them romantic love you can give to them of your time, your attention, your ideas if they want them or just your presence. Shakespeare wrote (Marc Antony's funeral speech in _Julius_Caesar_): "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears!"

I say unto you:

"Friends, Sparkers, Fellow Health Nuts and Health Nuts in Training, loan out your ears!"

February 14th is a day to celebrate romantic love. Let's make every other day a day to celebrate friendship. So loan out your ears, your hugs, your time and your attention.

And I bet you'll get 'em all back.

With interest.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 2/18/2009 10:03AM

    Thanks, Paula. Made me smile this morning. :-D

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PAULA3420 2/17/2009 8:51PM

    emoticon emoticon Terrific! YOU GOT MY EARS!! Very well thought out and we can all use an ear and a hug on just any old day. You have inspired me to be more sensitive. I'm hoping it spreads through the Sparks like wildfire. emoticon Paula emoticon

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JESPAH 2/17/2009 6:28AM

    Mine's still sick, poor dude. Perhaps next weekend. Hmm.

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EMMASMART 2/16/2009 11:26PM

    My husband objects to Valentine's Day. Today he's affectionate, there is no predicting him.

Emma

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SHININGTHRU126 2/16/2009 11:56AM

    so true, so true...

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I Took a Wrong Turn and I Just Kept Going

Monday, February 09, 2009

www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFO-N01wup0

I was recently thinking about this song, and in particular the line I've chosen for the title of this entry, because I was contacted by someone I had not heard from in perhaps two decades. This was someone I had been very close to at that time.

And I had thought: Should I tell them of my weight struggles? Okay, that was a yes. But then -- should I tell them just how bad it had gotten, just how much I had let myself go? After all, the feelings that I had had were flooding back, unbidden, and it would have been easy to have simply "forgotten" about that episode in my existence. Forget it and it goes away, right?

But I made the decision to reveal all. And so I posted photos of myself on Facebook, all of the photos from my weight loss journey. Starting with this one: (if the photo doesn't show up for some reason, it's in my gallery; it's the group shot)

Now, I have to tell you, I love that photo. I really do! Unless I had been naked, I don't think there's any way I could have possibly looked worse. And so that photo says, "Get off your duff. You're digging your grave with your fork. Get into shape before I have to come over there and kick your keister."

I revealed.

This person said the photos were great but then got busy and disappeared. If the contact has ended due to other reasons, then sobeit. If the contact is on hold (if this person really is busy) then again, whatever. But if the contact ended because of that photo? Well, all I've gotta say is, that's fine, too.

It is. Because without the acid test, if the acid test isn't passed, you don't know what else will happen. This is what I am, or at least what I was. I share DNA with the person in that photo. And not just a little DNA, ALL of the DNA. I am her. She is me. Like me now, like me then, like me last week, like me a quarter of a century ago. We're all the same person.

The line right before the one in the title is:

"Like a river that don't know where it's flowing"

Well, I am no river. I am no mindless collection of detritus and water. I am a human being. I am a member of the most intelligent species this planet has ever known. And things don't just happen to me.

Consider it like a road trip. After all, we talk about weight loss as being a journey and this is no exception.

So what happens when you really do take a wrong turn and just keep going?
You don't take a map
Or you take a map and don't consult it
You don't read the road signs
You don't pull over and ask for directions
You ignore all warnings, clues and hints
You may even deliberately go left rather than right, East rather than West

And all of these are, ultimately, your own responsibility. You're the one who turned the key in the ignition. You adjusted the mirrors. You put it in gear. You turned the wheel. And you went the wrong way.

You can take that wrong turn, and that happens, but it is up to you to turn the wheel back to the correct direction and get back on course. You are the one who did it. And you can get out of it.

Because the opposite is true as well.
You can consult the map.
You can read the road signs.
You can ask for directions.
You can figure out how to correct your errors and get back on course.

You have that positive power, too, just as much as you have the responsibility for going the wrong way in the first place.

And so I decided to show the photograph. Because I am the one who watches my portions. And I am the one who takes alli. And I am the one who goes to a gym. And I am the one who makes good choices. And I am the one who looks for fitness opportunities. And I am the one who diaries my food and measures it.

And I am also the one who ate too much. I am the one who didn't exercise much. I am the one who didn't care about portions. I am the one who ate junk. I am the one who lost the thread of health. That's me, too.

If you only like the current part, the one who does the measuring, etc., then you've missed out on the other piece. That other part, the one going the wrong way? That one deserved to be liked and loved and cared for and listened to and celebrated. That part was a person, not a river, too.

You are responsible for your failures and your successes, your ups and your downs. You are responsible when the scale goes up or down or doesn't change. You are the one. Not me, not Elvis. YOU.

And you are not a river.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 2/16/2009 10:54AM

    When it was Xmas, one of the songs I posted was Joni Mitchell's "I Wish I Had a River". :)

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LAB-LOVER 2/16/2009 8:12AM

    This is an amazing blog -- I think all of us have taken a wrong turn at some point, but now we've found our way. I had to chuckle at the river analogy, because my FAVORITE quote -- it's on my sparkpage -- is from a singer/songwriter named Adrienne Young.
She sings:
"I am a river, forever changing... struggle is perfect and all that is here is for good."

The point being that we're constantly adapting, changing, growing... and that wherever we are in our journey... however imperfect it might be... it's ALL good." I tend to be a perfectionist, impatient with myself, hard on myself and the lyrics of that long are a good reminder for me to accept where I am at any given point. Hmmm... perhaps you've given ME something to blog about...

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JESPAH 2/11/2009 3:34PM

    Thank you. :)

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MARIE4950 2/11/2009 1:42AM

    Thanks for sharing. You are a beautiful person inside and out.
Your friend Marie emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/11/2009 1:43:05 AM

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JURI62 2/9/2009 10:37PM

    Thank you for your sharing, I've always been directionally challenged and
I love this analogy

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JESPAH 2/9/2009 6:36PM

    Thank you all for your kind words. :)

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TINATC26 2/9/2009 12:26PM

    Oh, you are so right...you are no more or less worthy of the love and attention of other people because of what you may eat or not eat, do or not do, or what you look like. The world is full of people who like to play judge, and I find that most of those judges would not stand up to their own scrutiny all that well.

You keep up the good work and move forward on this journey. I think of it as the journey of life, not a weight loss journey, because what we are doing as we lose the weight certainly should not stop once we have lost the weight..eating healthy, exercising, it's a way of life, not a temporay state of being..

Thanks for this, I love reading words that reinforce the importance of what we do, and you have crystallized it in this blog.. Have a great day!!

Tina

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FIT_TERI 2/9/2009 10:10AM

    I loved this -- it doesn't hurt that I am a Jersey girl and, therefore, a Springsteen fan.
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"I am her. She is me." You've done such an excellent job in changing your own course, yet you aren't ignoring the past - a time when maybe you weren't making decisions as well as you're making them now. It is you now, it was you then. The same, yet different. Your words are a reminder, at least to me, that it's up to me to consult the map, ask for directions, look for signs that the road I'm on is the one I mean to be on.

You've had and are having such great success, and I am confident that with all your hard work you will achieve your goals. And on top of that, I think you're a great writer!

Teri

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TASOGAREBAN 2/9/2009 8:48AM

    Thank you. For your blog entry. I read it just to poke around and it was very insightful. And so very true to the heart. So thank you. :)

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Give the Past a Slip

Monday, February 02, 2009

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxH39QlRuhg

I started this whole weight loss journey (heh, exercise) as a New Year's Resolution. And, so far, so good.

Now, keep in mind, it was actually last year's resolution. I've been doing this for a while.

But this was an odd January. Last year, I was in rapid weight loss mode, the kind of thing that happens when you first start a diet/lifestyle change. You're drinking water. You're moving your body. You're making better choices. Lots of people get a good, happy kick start that way and I was no exception. I dropped something like 16 lbs. that first month. Of course that never lasts but it was a good, happy start and it encouraged me to do more.

This year, naturally, is different. I did not and do not expect such a huge honkin' weight loss this time around. However, eek, I've gained. For two weeks in a row.

For some folks, this would be a cause for panic. For others, it would be a way to get out of the whole thing entirely. Oh, it's hopeless. It's all over. This'll never work. Yadda yadda yadda you all know what I'm talking about. Heck, I was in that bucket for a really long time. It is not a very nice bucket to be in.

This year, this month, I decided to greet a two week in a row gain with a mixture of a shrug and renewed determination. Those make odd bedfellows, but hear (read) me out.

The shrug is, well, it's minimal. It's something like a pound and a half in all. And the previous week I had lost three and a half pounds. Hence I'm still running at a deficit anyway. Plus, let's face it, people on maintenance go up and down all the time, and they are not ready to go out and commit hara kiri over it. Gains happen. Losses happen. Somethings, many times, they relate to choices we make. Sometimes they don't. This is not a linear progression. That is a fact that, I know, can be maddening. So I've decided to shrug. It came on. It'll come off. It's probably gone already.

The renewed determination is to (a) watch the intake better and (b) step up the exercise. Both of these things were planned already, which is kinda where the intersection with the shrug happens. I was going to do this anyway, whether I gained a pound and a half or lost that same amount of weight, or some other amount. These ideas, these goals, these aspirations, they were not tied to a scale. The scale is not an albatross hanging around my ship. It is not a millstone around my neck. It is a tool. It said one thing today. It'll say something else tomorrow.

Oh -- that stepping up? It is, as in, I've burned over 1,000 more calories today than I was planning to. Does this mean that portion control says sayonara? Does this mean that I can be careless? Of course not. I want to take advantage of the extra effort, not undermine it. So the portions remain the same, and the menu is what it was this morning before I started working out. Because it is not tied to the scale, either.

How's it going? Eh. Pretty good, pretty less than good, pretty in between, but none of that matters because I am going to do this anyway, no matter what that scale says. Because it is not the boss of me. I will whip myself into shape and I don't need a number on a scale in order to do that.

These shrugs are mighty powerful things.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PRINCESS4CHRIST 2/4/2009 6:05PM

    I love your attitude. I have given up so many times because the scale doesn't say what I want it to, and I need to learn to have an attitude more like yours.

Shandy

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KUNGFOOD 2/4/2009 8:49AM

    emoticon
Great Post! It's refreshing to read an experience that isn't obsessing over every ounce.
emoticon
And yah! Way to keep on it, Jes! Nice work!

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JESPAH 2/3/2009 5:32AM

    Thank you all.

You're right, I could be hitting starvation mode and not even realizing it. Weird. I think we all want to believe it's this linear calories in, calories out kind of thing, but it's not, and that makes it easy for anyone to get tripped up.

I have noticed in the past that when I step up exercise, I tend to gain. I exercise anyway. :)

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TELERIE 2/3/2009 1:47AM

    I love your blogs, my friend. I'm on a roller coaster ride as well, one day it's up, another down. I don't let it worry me since the _trend_ is weight loss, and I think greeting the changes with a shrug and a strong will is just the thing to do. Have a plan, follow it, have a fall back plan when things go belly-up and just keep on keeping on.
It's important to fuel your machine, so when you step up the exercise and burn more calories, have a look at how many calories you give your body, so you don't go into starvation mode.

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TRECECOOKS 2/2/2009 8:26PM

    You have absolutely the right attitude. Those shrugs will keep you going, too.

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AQUAGIRL08 2/2/2009 7:55PM

    You have a really healthy attitude! I could take a leaf out of your book! I agree that since this isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle change just staying on track will get us where we want to go. Good luck on your journey!

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CRYSTALLEAH 2/2/2009 7:06PM

  Good for you for not letting a gain get you down. You have the right attitude and plan to get things moving again! Good luck with sticking to the plan. OH and remember if we exercise WAY more then you said you would you should probably be eating a little more or at least at the high end of the calories for the day.

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