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Some People Choose the City

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So I'm in Philadelphia, which is a city that I like quite a bit and probably would have settled in if it hadn't been for Boston. For me it's all about history and the Northeast, plus I spent some formative years on the Main Line and went to school nearby, in Wilmington. It's a familiar, friendly place for me.

I came here because I needed to dump another vacation day and did not want to spend all of those days just sleeping late and hanging out online (she says, from online, hmm). I have a friend here from Law School who I have not seen since my wedding day in May of 1992 and another friend from online who lives in NJ. We're all going to the Cezanne exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art tomorrow. Today my friend from Law School came and got me and screamed at how slim I've gotten. We had an excellent afternoon, including two hours of walking around the city. Now I have some time to myself and then we'll figure out dinner and whether we want to see a play. I want to spend time with her but I am getting kinda tired. Plus there's a gym in the hotel so I want to use it. Probably not today after all of the walking, but definitely tomorrow. Then I go home super early on Monday morning (as in a 7 AM or so train) and then return to work on Tuesday. I'm here by myself as I have more vacation time than my husband.

I realize this is coming out kind of jumbled but I am really enjoying myself. We just walked and talked and I forgot how much I like having a female friend. Sure I like my friend the fishmonger and of course I love my husband and I see plenty of females at work and whatnot but I have had no one -- and I mean no one -- to just mess around with, window shop, laugh, etc. I've missed that.

It's a good weekend.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 3/16/2009 7:48PM

    Hi, everyone, I am back.

And I am beat! My friend Melissa walked with me pretty much everywhere. So, more in a few days, but thank you all for your sweet messages.

Now I gotta go catch up with the hubby-type person. ;)

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EM_CLARK1 3/16/2009 4:07PM

    I know what you mean about having a female friend to just hang out with. I got to spend some time doing just that with one of my best friends was heaven. We were unpacking her stuff (she and her husband, along with their baby, had just moved into an apartment) and it was exhausting, but a good time. Her husband made a remark at some point that one of the things he had missed about me hanging out with them was the banter he heard between his wife and I. It cracks him up. I told him it's a good thing that it cracks him up, because it frightens my dad. :)

Some guys can take it, other guys can't.

At any rate, until yesterday, I didn't realize just how much I missed getting to just hang out with her until after I was leaving last night. It felt like my little cup was full and made me look forward to tonight when I get to go over and help yet again.

:) Erin

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KUNGFOOD 3/15/2009 4:58PM

    Great... hope you'll blog a bit about the Cezanne show, too. Sounds like a delicious weekend, and compliments on weight loss are always icing on the cake...

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DDOORN 3/15/2009 7:30AM

    What a wonderful make time for yourself and a buddy...woo hoo!

Life seems to crowd that right out of existence for many of us...I know that's true for me. It can be such a challenge to claim "buddy time!"


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SWEETZMIX 3/14/2009 8:00PM

    ENJOY!! Even I have lost connection with many of my female friends. I have tried making new ones, but it hasn't clicked. I also tried reaching out to the ones from my past but it is what it is. Super glad ur having fun and don't worry about the gym..just enjoy urself!

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TRECECOOKS 3/14/2009 6:44PM

    Most excellent!! Do enjoy it all!!

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TELERIE 3/14/2009 6:24PM

    Enjoy! I love spending time with my female friends (I've got two) but it happens all to seldom. Still, it's lovely to have that *click* connection with someone.

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The Secret to Me Isn't Flown On a Flag

Monday, March 09, 2009

I've been thinking of this song for a while as my job has grown incredibly stressful lately. Now, when I took the job I realized it would have dull times and probably a lot of them, but usually what happens is that if you have a dull job it at least isn't not too stressful. And the opposite is true as well.

But no.

This one's got both, at least lately.

I do data loading, reporting and data user security. Lots of lists and numbers and things to wait for. Plus there is a new gal and I am trying to help her out and have kind of been charged with that. That's good for me, to do that, but unfortunately she still is grabbing me to talk to me at the most inopportune moments. Today was a rush at the end of the day and of course that's when she had a question. I literally waved her off and then finished my thought, then went to see her, apologized, and heard her ask about something I had already explained. More than once. Ai yi yi.

I've got to be patient, and I am trying. So far, so good.

As for digging my job, well, that's not happening. Oh, sure, the people are lovely, but people are lovely in lots of places. No. Bottom line is that I'm fighting a battle to not hate this job. And I'm not doing too well in that battle. But I'm trying.

I'm asking for help. I'm asking for time with my boss. I got myself a mentor, who I like and see every other week. I try to spend time with my coworkers (although I'm also busy). I volunteered to take over more of security (a part of my stress, but I did bring that part upon myself). And I know the economy stinks so I just don't have the option of hitting the road. I have to do my best to make this work.

So I try, but I don't love it. And while I need not love a job I am at least trying to like it a little.

The main way I have tried to ease my stress has been to work out. This week I'll get my keister over to the gym three times and I will duke it out with myself for an hour each time. If they had a boxing class (they don't), I'd seriously consider signing up. So I am kinda proud of myself, I'm handling it in a healthy way and am not turning to food in order to cope.

I'm also turning to friends and will take a little time (I have to slay some vacation time) and will be in Philly this weekend, to see friends and take in the CÚzanne exhibit. Then the following weekend I'll visit my folks. Plus I saw my friend the other day (he is still smoke-free). Makes me feel better to see people succeeding.

I guess it's working.

Heck, I *know* it's working.

Four measurements hit or tied personal best today. I have officially lost a foot off my bra band. It is, I kid you not, 35.5" right now. I just wish my bust wasn't over 6" larger than that. That is, what, a G cup? Insane. I'm wearing a 40D even if I have to stuff and prod myself into it. Half the time they're too big and half they're too small for me. Today's selection is big enough around and the cups are slightly too big. Yesterday's (identical size) was too small in the cups. Whatever!

But the rest of me is vanishing. I looked at myself in the full-length mirror from the side today. While you can tell I still have an apron, it is flattening quite a bit. The booty is getting smaller, too. I am getting a pretty decent figure from the waist down.

In the meantime, I'm always running at someone's heel.

But at least that's good cardio. :)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 3/11/2009 1:57PM

    I like the idea of the me meeting. Excellent.

I really am making an effort to be patient. It is something I have issues with anyway so I am well aware that it is a problem. I think one thing that's been hard for the trainee (and I feel for this person, I do!) is that there is a lot happening and it's all very complex and we all talk like it's oh so familiar and then, well, if you're a trainee you've got to be looking at that and wondering what language everyone is speaking.

There is a distinct lack of silence here and a major amount of heat. I've been finding that the hotter I get (part of this is menopause, part isn't), the more annoyed I get in general. It's not easy dressing in the morning; I wait at a bus in 20 degree (and less) weather, and then come to an office where it feels like it's 80.

I need a vacation. Oof!

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TELERIE 3/10/2009 6:12PM

    Janet, you're shrinking! You're a success story here and an amazing inspiration!
I haven't got a dream job either. It has it's moments like good people to work with but plenty of frustrations too. Having a trainee is not always fun - I've lost count on the number of people I have helped get started at my work - I try to be patient, but I think making time for your own job while training another is important. I sometimes schedule "meetings" with myself to get some quiet time to think and some time to work without interruptions.

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DAN_ODEA 3/10/2009 4:45PM

    I carry it behind this bleeding little badge, what says "Bellboy!"

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CROTTY 3/10/2009 4:23PM

    I am so glad you are getting smaller. I hope stress is not the reason the weight is coming off. You have too many negatives about your job and you must let go of them. If you are training a newbie, she has to wait for you not you running every time she calls. Make sure she takes notes when you tell her something. At the end of each work day, take a deep breath and let the job go until you enter the buidling again.

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SWEETZMIX 3/10/2009 12:51PM

    YAY!! For getting smaller and vanishing.

And I feel you on the job. I am feeling the same way, even started applying to new ones. Don't know if I will find one but I staying positive and being proactive. Vacations are great, I think I need one too!! Enjoy using those days to relax, that's is what they (and sick days) are for!!

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The Thing We Need is Never All That Hard to Find

Monday, March 02, 2009

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
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.


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.


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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

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.


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.


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.


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!


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DETERMINED_ME 2/25/2009 11:15PM

    You are awesome! Such an inspiration!


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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


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

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.


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SHININGTHRU126 2/16/2009 11:56AM

    so true, so true...

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