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My Favorite Things

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Oh how I wish this were like the Oprah show where I could get a bunch of free stuff just for playing at home! But alas, this is not that blog. It IS, however, a blog asking for your best suggestions for a few things that I need to go out and buy this week. So here we go Sparkers - give me down low and dirty details on your favorite...

I'm obsessed with Lane Bryant Cacique bras and I'm SOOOO sad that I'm going to have to shop for another variety, and soon. I love Cacique for their sexiness AND all-day wearability! I usually wear push-up (I'm a big girl, but the girls need a little extra oomph here and there), and I like the low cut variety so I can wear low cut shirts that still look awesome. What are some of your go-to brands?

I detest Old Navy jeans. There is so much lycra in them they bag out and make my ass look 5 times bigger than it is in about an hour of wear. I've heard similar things about the Gap curvy fit jeans. No surprise since they come from the same family of manufacturers. I'm still a petite 16 in regular stores (inching towards that 14 really soon) so I need jeans that still fit big behinds, but that look great wear after wear after wear.

Same deal on the stretch factor. I've bought out Old Navy's stock of everything I remotely like. I have a coupon for Gap outlet. I've also hit up Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Anywhere else I should be looking that has good deals on summer stuff?

Like the bras, I have sworn by Lane Bryant Cacique underwear for years. I'm terrified at the idea of trying to find a new brand that I love as much as them. I like classic, cotton thong underwear (which you will know if you wear it needs to fit properly so as not to be uncomfortable!). I guess this one is really going to be touch and go for me since usual sizing guides indicate that I should be wearing a size that is way bigger and baggier than I find comfortable. So I'm gonna have to try a few and see how they work. What do you swear by?

Can't wear cotton thongs all the time. When I run and do zumba classes I need stuff that covers everything and is breathable and sweat wicking. Send me your best finds!

Now - here are some brands that I LOVE and fully endorse!

I won't wear anything but SmartWool. Even in the summer. I got a couple of pairs of these for Christmas and there is NOTHING out there like them. They're cushiony and soft for long runs, but my feet are never too hot or too cold and they NEVER stink! Gotta love that!

Land's End basic swim suits are the BEST for laps. They last forever, don't wear out too quickly from the chlorine, are high enough cut in the leg and low enough cut in the neck not to look dowdy, but they tuck everything in nicely to cover trouble spots. You can get them with extra tummy control if you want and with or without a water bra for added support. They also come in lots of fun colours and are one of the cheaper suits on the market.

So there's my list. Let me know what you like and what I should be out there looking for! I'm planning on doing a bit of Saturday shopping!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DHALYIA 7/6/2011 5:40AM

    Bras at target, good selection of cute big sizes. Levi jeans all the way. The Loft for tops and t's. Undies are Hanes boy short, comfy for running, no picking. I'm running in bamboo fiber socks, ill look for the smartwool. I needed a good swim suit, ill look for your brand

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CHICAGOHEALTHY 6/21/2011 12:09AM

    Thank you for mentioning smartwool running socks. I found some this past weekend and bought a few pairs. I wore a pair for my 7 mile run Sunday. I like them! emoticon

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JENJESS48 6/12/2011 4:59PM

    Oh man, I'm sorry I didn't get to your blog until today! I LOVE and SWEAR BY Vanity Fair brand for bras and panties and can usually find great deals at Kohls. I also buy my Lee jeans there. If you can afford it - or find a good sale, which are blessedly common - I like Ann Taylor Loft's Julie fit for both pants and jeans. This may arrive too late for this time around, but maybe it'll help for next time. How'd you do with the shopping?

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SNOOKUMS19 6/12/2011 9:45AM

    I love Target tanks and tees. They really have adorable sundress too. I wear Jockey thongs. I alway hit the outlet for them. Good luck! Enjoy your awesome shopping time!

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NEWNECK 6/11/2011 2:13PM

    I'm right there with you on the smartwool running socks. Oh how I love them. I was just thinking this morning that I'd devote an entire sock drawer to them if I could, and I've made a good start. Sierra Trading Post online sometimes has really great deals on them (like 70% off).

For t-shirts and casual tops I've done well with Eddie Bauer. I think the quality/weight is good and they hold their shape. Deals are okay at the online outlet or during sales.

Jockey Classic is my go-to for underwear. But I like the french cuts, don't know about their thongs.

For jeans I have done okay with Eddie Bauer (which shocked me) and Liz Claiborne (ages ago). In addition to my rear and thighs, my issue in jeans tends to to be length, since even petite/short styles are often too long for me.
But those worked. Now I'm actually loving some women's Carhartt colored jeans that I found for $12 so bought a bunch of sizes. They're very casual, borderline "work" jeans, which works for me but probably wouldn't for you.

Good luck!

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CHEETARA79 6/11/2011 11:17AM

    I too loved Cacique bras and undies. Recently I tried on some Chantelle bras at Lord and Taylor and I fell in love. Then I looked at the price tag and put them back on the shelf. However, since every bra I tried in my size fit so well, I felt confident in buying a Chantelle bra on eBay for 1/4 the price it was at the store. HTH

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WYND10 6/11/2011 12:25AM

    Heya Jen! I had to do some new bra shopping recently, and I really like "The Incredible" bra from Victoria's Secret. Very comfortable, and it comes in a push-up version with a low plunge for those sexy low cut tops. I've also been wearing their underware, but not the thongs so I have no idea what they are for jeans, I've been going to JC Penney for mine. I don't know if they have those in Chicago, but they have a great selection of clothes, especially their a.n.a line. The rest I am afraid I would be of little help...oh! Kohl's. They have a great selection of jeans, dresses, and shirts, and they always have a ton of sales.

Good luck! And enjoy shopping!! :)

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LAURIETAIT 6/10/2011 1:51PM

    I got George low rise bootcut jeans at Walmart. I have had a few compliments on the fit. They are cheap (under $20.00) and there are some other cuts as well. I was in Grand Forks a few weeks ago and I noticed that the Walmart there had a wide selection of summer workout gear. As for underwear I've had some great success in Superstore. It's inexpensive, comfortable and I don't lose it when I'm running. A very important consideration for a phys ed teacher! good luck in your search.

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TEAM-SARAH 6/9/2011 6:42PM

    All of my jeans are from the gap. I have curvy ones and I love them, probably just depends on what works for your body shape. The Long and lean are my favorite ones... nice and high in the waist with a wide boot opening. i dont have a 'go to" for any of the other things, im kinda random in my purchases in those areas!

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FYREDRAGYN 6/9/2011 11:43AM

    I like a good basic Levi's jean, that's all I have anymore. They fit great and don't get the sag the Old Navy one's do.

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MERETHOMP 6/9/2011 9:56AM

    For clothes - They carry sizes 1-24, and most of their stuff is pretty reasonably priced (the jeans I wear are $34- the Orchid boot cut). If you have one in your area, go to the store and try stuff on to figure out your sizes, because they're a little funky (in plus sizes, S-XL is 0-3), but you can also order online and return if need be. I love their stuff - it's a little more fun and younger than LB or Avenue.

I'm going to come back and check the recommendations you get for underwear - I need new stuff in that department as well (I'm a Soma girl right now, but want to try new brands).

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PJH2028 6/9/2011 8:49AM

    As ususal, you put this out there with true panash! Thanks much, cuz I sure do need that jeans advice myself!!

As for bras... I recently went shopping/hunting and, for me, while some other brands are sexier/prettier perhaps, WACOAL has a very fine selection of larger cupped bras, with and without seaming, with and without lace, in a variety of fits/styles. For me, turns out I really love the Wacoal Minimizer -- comes in black, nude, white -- soft comfy fabric that somehow holds the girls close and up to reduce gravity similiarly to but more attractively than to sports bras (the minimizer is a 'full coverage' bra, which probably means this one will not work well with plunging necklines). I also really liked the Susan B Komen (breast cancer gets part of the proceeds) damask fabric bra with added strap comfort. There were prettier Wacoals that I loved for style, but right now I'm wanting LIFT.


Let me know what jeans you find!!!

You're terrific. Brava!!! xo

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JESSICAKES88 6/9/2011 1:41AM

    Underwear- Hanky Panky thongs! They are literally the only undies I wear, and I have them in like 30 different colors. I even wear them to work out in, they are soooo comfy. They are lacey and cute, but they are well lined with cotton, and I swear they are the best ever. They come in a one-size-fits-all.... and I wore them when I was 150 lbs, and I wore them when I was 191 lbs and they always fit.

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    I really like Not Your Daughter's Jeans. I found it upto a 12 but I think they have bigger sizes. Really good fit and tucks in your tummy!

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LMLOPEZ 6/9/2011 12:29AM

    Try Macy's-I do like the DKNY jeans; not too pricy and just a touch of lycra. Last for wash after wash and fit those of us shorties that are endowed in the backside :)
I'm no help with the bras and such-still looking for some comfort from those as well. Good luck!!

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ROXELLS_WARRIOR 6/8/2011 11:33PM

    For bras, Olga Christina has some pretty ones that are great for us well-endowed women. (Up to DDD) They have your basic everyday nude/black tones plus some sexy/fancy/cute/pretty styles that are still SUPER comfy and don't cost a fortune. Plus if you have a Macy's near you, they often have "buy two get one free" sales, and they carry the line. I think Kohl's also carries them.
R>For jeans, Donna Karen New York (or DKNY) are my favorites, also at Macy's or Dillard's. I'm a curvy 12, used to be 14, and these fit me when nothing else did. You can also get them in short/average/tall.

Have fun! I just got home from Macy's :)

Comment edited on: 6/8/2011 11:34:00 PM

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    Sorry I'm no help either. I shop at Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Target mostly these days. Target does have some cute tanks and t-shirts. One opened within walking distance from so I can check in often to see what is on sale and is in inventory.

Comment edited on: 6/9/2011 1:07:10 AM

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FITMOMMY18 6/8/2011 9:35PM

    Sorry I'm not much help with the shopping. But, I can't wait to get some of those socks!


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MIQUEY73 6/8/2011 8:46PM

    I clearly am not a shopper. I get most of my purchases at Fashion Bug and couldn't really tell you brand names. Good luck in your search!

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CLAYARTIST 6/8/2011 8:16PM

  what a shopper...

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KRAWRS 6/8/2011 8:15PM

    omg i LOVE Cacique bras. My fave! I just bought jeans from a store called Avenue (the AVenue? not sure) and I love them! I don't know how they will be over time as I just bought them, but they are SO comfy!

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Can't Stop Eating!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

I think I have a tape worm. Usually the onset of warm weather takes away my appetite, but this year, the onset of the sun has brought out my ability to bike and run and swim and sit out soaking up the rays. I'm already more tan this year than I usually am by August from all the time I've spent outdoors and that makes for one HUNGRY GIRL!

But this is getting ridiculous. I've been very obviously over my calorie limit almost every day for about 2 weeks now. I've been drinking and haven't been saying no to that piece of cake at the cast party, or the extra little treats that have snuck in here and there - "because I'm working them off anyway" - is what I keep thinking.

Well, the scale this morning says something different. I'm NOT working them off. I'm gaining weight. And it needs to stop. But it's crazy. I can't stop it. I'm hungry (physically hungry) all the time. Case in point - I usually don't eat lunch until around 2pm. It's currently 12:30pm and I just scarfed down a whole leftover Pita Pit dinner from last night's work meeting AND extra pita, tzaziki & hummus to go with it. I'm not hungry any more - but give it a few hours and I'll be back to the fridge again. AHHHHH! It's so frustrating.

I don't want to stop exercising. I've made the commitment to continue biking to work as much as possible this summer. But it's only since I've started biking that I've turned into the food ogre. And I do know from wearing my Garmin on one ride that I'm burning way more calories than Spark is telling me I am from tracking my exercise. And the good news from all of this is that my legs and butt have toned down and are starting to look killer now - which is exactly what I wanted to have happen. But this weight gain this morning ain't no patootty muscle building. It's purely and simply a food baby.

I just closed my show - so I should be able to get back to focusing on making healthy food at home and not eating out as much, but because I usually put off everything until my show closes (as I have done again this time), this week is full of meetings (which either involve food directly, or happen after hours so I can't get home to cook dinner), dates (which definitely involve food and drinking, and not usually of the healthy variety), and a lot of additional stress at work to get caught up on everything I've put off until now. And stress makes me eat for sure.

So the deal is this:

1. I've been lazy with my food tracker, so I'm food tracking EVERYTHING again. No cheating. If it goes in my mouth, it goes on the tracker. And already today sucks cause I have at least 10 hours until my work day is done and I only have 300 calories left. Poop.

2. Water, water, water. No more diet coke. There's no need for it anymore. Diet coke withdrawal sucks for me big time. It's not just about the pick-me-up in the afternoons, but because I use it as a treat instead of sugar or other things. It does help curb my chocolate cravings, but I know that I tend to eat more and put on pounds (or just not lose them as easily) when I'm drinking that crap. So I'm going to start a streak in Spark to get me through ridding my days of that again.

3. Grocery shopping and planning meals for the weekend. I've been pretty good about this all along, but pay day falls on a weird schedule this week, so I'm down to my last dollars and thus don't have any good food in my fridge at home until this weekend. So left over pitas from the work meeting will have to continue being my lunches for this week, despite the added salt. They're better than some of the other things I could be eating.

4. Just keep exercising. My body WILL get used to this level of burn eventually. It's been over a month now, but it's gotta kick in soon. I'm not convinced that ALL of this hunger has to do with the added calorie burn. I know some of it is emotional - and emotional tied to physical is the worst, because you eat to feed the physical hunger and then KEEP EATING to feed the emotional.

5. No more booze. Stop it. The celebrations are over, there is really no need to drink wine and beer a couple of times a week. Last night I had a meeting with the cast and crew of the cabaret show that I produce. We had a really great week last week (we made a lot of money from a deal I set up) and the cast brought me a beer to the meeting as a thank you. I drank it. And I was the ONLY one drinking! What kind of crap is that??? Oh, and I also had an iced tea sitting in front of me that was really all I needed with dinner. Drinking needs to stop. Even on dates. No reason I can't drink something else and keep my head in the game and the over-eating from lowered inhibitions at bay.

So that's the game plan. I've been reading a lot of these blogs from other people lately too. Common Sparkers! Let's kick ourselves in the butt a little and not waste this beautiful summer being bigger than we need to be! Enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of the season and love how being healthy and happy (and not eating crappy food) makes you feel!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AUBRAZILLA 6/13/2011 6:53AM

    When I really started biking (and other exercises) I got that ravenous insanity as well. I found the following helped:
Eat more fiber/protein per meal (aim for over 20g protein per meal)
Eat fewer times a day -- I found that the small meals made me snack crazily
Find a way to blow up portion sizes: popcorn, never-ending-sides-of-kale, big-ass salad, etc.

Good luck honey. I basically taught my body: I will feed you, but you gotta shut the hell up!

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CMHARRISON12 6/9/2011 10:23PM

    Thanks so much for writing all that, I MUST face my Diet Coke addiction! I only have one per day, and usually don't drink the whole thing, but it certainly SEEMS like I can't live without it..mostly psychological, SO, I Will be making my own action plan with your inspiration!! emoticon emoticon

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MERETHOMP 6/9/2011 9:48AM

    My body turned into a hunger machine when I started Spark (what? we're... exercising?!!?). One thing I did was adjust my planned cardio - I was only scheduled for 2 days a week, but was going 4 or 5. When I changed that, Spark adjusted my daily calorie thresholds accordingly. So if you're burning a ton biking, you might really be needing a bit more (ok, maybe not the beer and whatnot, but real calories).

The best thing I found for soda replacement was sparkling, lightly flavored water. You get the fizz and a bit of sweetness, but no calories and it's all natural. Of course, now I'm addicted to La Croix...

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PHOENIX43 6/9/2011 9:21AM

    I also had a mad Coke Zero addiction until I read that the artificial sweeteners in my fav drink actually changes the brain chemistry and creates HUNGER! So, I used Pellegrino sparkling water as my diet soda methadone. I am now diet soda free and I swear, I can tell a huge difference in my level of hunger. I also found that adding sparkling water to my glass of wine still gives me the flavor I crave but less calories.
Thanks for blogging - I really enjoy reading them. Have a great day!

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NANASAMM 6/8/2011 7:26PM

    Recognizing the problem areas is the first step to moving forward. Good for you! Looks like a great plan.

I don't know about you but Diet Coke dries out my mouth and MAKES me thirsty which makes me crave more. I now stick to water with lemon and unsweetened iced tea with lemon.


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WILD22 6/8/2011 5:48PM

    I'm writing this as I drink a light beer. I am still going through this a bit. I started to break free of the unhealthy eating over the past 7-10 days. It does get better. Do not quit exercising. I did and it has been a bugger getting back into it. Your action plan looks and sounds awesome. Keep at it. Your killer legs and butt will be hard to recognize when they are looking at your fabulous new bod!!

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KT-NICHOLS-13 6/8/2011 1:39PM

    You, my dear, will snap back & find your path again. Your action plan sounds marvelous ...

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OFFDREA 6/8/2011 10:35AM

    I too have been ravenous the last few days, I did look at my TOM tracker and it is on its way. damn tom

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SHELLYBABE2 6/8/2011 9:56AM

    Hope you get it all under control again, you've come so far it would be a shame for it to go in reverse now! Good luck we're all cheering you on! emoticon

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EMMANYC 6/8/2011 7:34AM

    I'm having a similar issue - I just posted the blog "Training with one foot in the refrigerator".

I find that plain sparkling water, or plain sparkling water with a squeeze of lime or lemon, helps me get over my diet coke cravings. And a combination of 94% fat-free microwaver popcorn and some fruit like an apple or an orange (not literally combined, but eaten at the same time), helps to address the "mindless munchies".

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MAMADWARF 6/8/2011 1:01AM

    Get the sobe zero drinks. I love them, and they make me FULL..... I drink one when I have the hungries and it really helps.. you can do this...

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LOTUSFLOWER 6/7/2011 11:44PM

    You have a great plan, I have no doubt that you will beat this, I think your body is just adjusting, and you have had such a busy month. I'm sorry I didn't get to see your show before it ended, our summer has been so busy. emoticon

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SCHENPOSSIBLE 6/7/2011 10:31PM

    giving up booze is hard for me too. *sigh* we can do it. We'll get there.

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AUTUMNPOTTER 6/7/2011 7:46PM

    You rock, way to go owning up to the problem and making plans to stop it. Good Luck I know you can do it.

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ON2VICTORY 6/7/2011 6:15PM

    i might have a solution for you... will email u later. ran into the same issue with my running and BEAT it. TTYL, gotta split but i will contact you later..

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    You and me are having similar months right now! I am the same way - however, it's been hitting me on weekends, I do well during the week and get my weight back down..then do it all over again. :(

Also - I quit Dt. Mt. Dew for a week but started back. I have to make a better effort to stop!

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HARLEYGIRL33 6/7/2011 5:47PM

  Found this blog just in time, was about to order a large pizza with the works to deal with my stressful day.

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LAURIETAIT 6/7/2011 5:39PM

    I am where you are as well. I'm so exhausted by the end of school rush that I can't seem to work up the energy to attack any problem let alone weight gain. Thanks for the nudge. I really needed it.

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TEAM-SARAH 6/7/2011 5:07PM

    You got this lady!! :) You've owned up to it and that's a big part of it. I tend to get way too liberal with my calories when I amp up my workouts too saying "well I need more, I'm burning it off so it's okay" and that may be true but I eat MORE than what I'm burning extra and that is NOT okay. Let's have a fit healthy summer!!

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SNOOKUMS19 6/7/2011 4:46PM

    Sounds like a great plan!!!!! This kinda happened to me too. I upped my Zumba class from 3to4 a week to 6 days a week and started enjoying a little extra here and there. The here and there went here and here :(. So I am back with my plan as well. All including food and drink choices! Have a great healthy night!

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KRISKECK 6/7/2011 4:23PM

    Ok, I am with you - I've been doing the same thing and you're right, it needs to stop. Let's do it!

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FITMOMMY18 6/7/2011 3:34PM

    You are so right. Thanks for this blog!
I've been struggling a lot too lately. Although I certainly don't have the problem of burning more calories. LOL I've been skipping out on exercise too.


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NIKKICOLE83 6/7/2011 3:28PM

    It sounded like you were in my head. I have been crazy hungry for three weeks now and I continue to work out but I have gained like 6 pounds. I don't know what to do but I figure I could borrow your tips and see if it helps.

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-POOKIE- 6/7/2011 3:24PM

    I honestly dont know what to suggest, I think this grabs us all sometimes, I know with me being down, healing, lack of exercise and the desire for child-hood comfort foods haven't had me at my best lately.

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    I have been going through bouts of insatiable hunger also. I found that when I wear my heart monitor that it shows that I burn more calories than Spark does, also. I understand as SP has to average the numbers for everyone. When I was having a hard time getting the scale to go down I would put in what my HM stated so I could really see what was going on. Also have you looked at your nutritional numbers? WIth all the biking, running and swimming, do you think you might need to up the numbers?

Keep up all that summer fitness and enjoy all those beautiful colors of vegetables and fruits of summer! Oh and keep up that dating. emoticon

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Exercising (Not Exorcising) The Inner Diva

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hey Everyone!

I wrote a DailySpark Guest Blog! You can find it here:

Although it's a little dated now, I'm particularly proud of this one. Hope you all enjoy it.



  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OVERHAULING-ME 6/2/2011 3:31PM

    Wonderful blog! I've always put others first and as I started this journey I had to give myself permission to put ME first. I have to in order to be around longer and to have more to give to others.

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TEAM-SARAH 5/31/2011 4:37PM

    That's great, congratulations!!

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LAURIETAIT 5/31/2011 1:58PM

    Loved the blog!

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LOTUSFLOWER 5/31/2011 1:37PM

    Congrats again!!!

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ALOFA0509 5/31/2011 1:15PM

Your Awsum!!!!!

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KT-NICHOLS-13 5/31/2011 12:15PM

    Great post!

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JENJESS48 5/31/2011 12:07PM

    Awesome blog! And congrats on being a Daily Spark guest blogger! emoticon You go, rock star!

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WYND10 5/31/2011 12:06PM

    Great article!

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MERETHOMP 5/31/2011 10:41AM

    This is a fantastic post! Congrats!

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RED_WRITINGHOOD 5/31/2011 10:00AM

    Love the blog girl!!

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REDHEADMOM2U 5/31/2011 8:19AM

    Hey, I *know* someone famous! Great post!

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AMBERLEIGHM1 5/31/2011 6:22AM

    Fabulous blog, I'm glad you linked it, I had not saw it. You are at a wonderful place in your journey thanks for sharing your journey with us.

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PEGGIE57 5/31/2011 12:10AM

    Sometimes, I have to remember to tell myself those things you wrote in your blog. I've always taken care of everyone else- now it's time to take care of myself. Thanks for the reminder.

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ROXELLS_WARRIOR 5/30/2011 11:26PM

    Congrats, that's awesome! I love your "healthy self-centeredness." This is a great reminder of something I need to keep in mind:

"What other people think of me is none of my business."

Thank you!

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Because I Missed It

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I said I was taking a month off running. I made it 22 days.

When I woke up this morning, I never would have thought in a million years that tonight would end off as it has. Over the weekend, I did something to my back and had to bump up my regular chiropractor appointment which wasn't supposed to be until Friday of this week to Wednesday morning (the earliest I could get). Because I'm sore, I opted to take a rest day today from Boot Camp cardio. I did just the video, and rather than bike to work as I have every other Monday this month, I plodded to the bus. Sitting is what kills me when my back is out, so work today was filled with lots of ups and downs to the water cooler and the bathroom to stretch things out. By the end of the day I was feeling better and decided to use up a Groupon deal that I had for the movies and bought a 6:45pm ticket to 'Water for Elephants'. I also had a deal for Running Away Multisport that expired today, so after work I headed over to the store to pick out something nice. I walked around the bikes and shoes and sifted my fingers through the tech gear, salivating over all the expensive equipment. I ended up choosing a pair of rechargeable LED night lights for my bike (an investment that would have set me back a pretty penny without the deal) and made my way over to the movie theater. Since I hadn't planned on seeing a movie and it was definitely dinner time, I decided to hit up the snack bar. I ordered a dry popcorn and diet coke (a BIG treat for me - not exactly "dinner" but oh well!) and found a seat in the dark theater.

The movie was great, the popcorn was salty, and the diet coke hit the spot. I thoroughly enjoyed my evening. As I left the theater and walked out into the dark, humid night, something hit me. I didn't want it to end yet. It was still relatively early, and as I waited for the bus to take me home, it dawned on me. I wanted to run. Like, right now. At 9:30pm.

Deciding not to let the feeling get away from me, I raced home and jumped into my running gear as fast as I could. I laced up my shoes and started my Garmin and practically flew out the door. It was 9:42pm. I shortened my regular 5 minute warm-up walk to 3 minutes and took off on my regular route, by feet pounding the pavement. Yes! It felt SO good.

Now, I NEVER run at night, let alone LATE at night. Usually after work I am so beat, my energy is in the stinker. Getting through a night run can be like pulling teeth for me, so whatever stars aligned tonight I will never know, but I am so grateful for them (although I'm assuming the stars names are "salty carbs" and "caffeine").

The smells are different on a night run - I ran through late night dinners, meat on the BBQ and open restaurant patios. Through stale beer from bars and lingering cigarette smoke from a few lonely souls on the street. I ran past lilac blossoms and the smell of mud. Of garbage that has been sitting all day in the Chicago heat and the moist smell of grass being watered by a leaking hose. Good smells and bad smells - I took it all in, the humid, night air against my face with just the slightest cool breeze.

Tonight I ran with the rabbits. I saw three different bunnies darting in and out of the bushes as I passed, running along-side me in the grass. I smiled and laughed at each one - reminding me that it's ok to be a turtle sometimes too - as long as you keep on going.

The dogs are different at night - as are their owners. And unlike in the morning, where I share the streets with cars and drivers on their way to work - tonight I shared the sidewalks with couples and people sitting out on front stoops enjoying the beautiful weather.

With every corner I turned, my body glistening with sweat, I felt stronger and more alive. I set out to run 3 miles - I ran 3.5 because I could. Tonight I ran after 22 days of not running because I missed it. And I knew that once I missed it badly enough, I would come back to it with a vengeance. But quite honestly, I was scared. I was scared that I WOULDN'T miss it. I had a bad race on May 1st - and honestly, it wasn't that bad - it was just..."hard" - I still set a personal best, but I was disappointed in myself that 3.1 miles felt so darn difficult after having run such a great 8K only a couple weeks earlier. So in a fit of "I don't wanna" I quit. I stopped running and poured my energy into other things, saying I would come back to it when I missed it. Not knowing if the "missing it" would ever happen or not.

I don't know when I will run again, but I do know that it won't be that long until I do. After 22 days away - I can honestly say that running is a part of me because I missed it. I actually missed it. I know now (like, really know, in my soul) that there will be good runs and bad runs. Tonight was a GREAT run. And I can't let the outcome of one race ruin my joy for the sport. Maybe I just don't like racing all that much. And that's ok too.

The bottom line is this (and I am so thrilled I can now say this and truly feel that it is true): My body LOVES to run. And so I will.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JENELAYNE33 6/5/2011 3:21PM

  Hmm I ran across your page..... I am in chicago as well... your very inspiring... I have 130 lbs to lose and I have lost 41 of those so far.. I want to run and I am trying... and your page as def... inspired me...

Thank you !

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SHANNJ77 5/31/2011 11:14AM

    Great blog. I am not at all a runner, but I recently walked my first 5K. I jogged some of it, but not much. I was motivated enough when I finished to register for a 10K coming up soon. I was planning to walk most of it, but this makes me want to try to run. We shall see how it turns out. Thanks for the extra motivation. :)

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MOMASAURUS 5/31/2011 9:49AM

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LINJO66 5/31/2011 7:07AM

    emoticon emoticon
Your night sounded awesome!

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TEENY_BIKINI 5/30/2011 11:02PM

    The way you described the night run was amazing. I just love the heart in this blog.

Run baby run!


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WENDYBIRD_ 5/30/2011 9:21PM

    Just wanted to say your blogs always give me a nice boost of encouragement, thank you for your great energy and honesty. Actually makes me want to think about taking up running! Good luck in your continued weight loss journey, you can do this.

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NOLACOWGIRL1 5/30/2011 10:52AM

  I loved reading this. I think when we allow ourselves to truly listen to our bodies they will tell us to do things like go for runs late at night (and not eat junk food mindlessly). Thank you for your words and best of luck on your journey. Sounds like you already have so much to be proud about.

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COUCHDIVA333 5/29/2011 4:46PM

    Absolutely beautiful!

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SHORTSGIRL 5/25/2011 11:18PM

    emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 5/25/2011 11:19:02 PM

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ON2VICTORY 5/25/2011 6:48PM

    i understand the running withdrawls totally!! great pic...behold the fierce runner!! woo hoo!

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FITMOMMY18 5/24/2011 9:44PM

    Great blog - as always.

Thanks for sharing. I really like the taste of running that I've gotten so far, and I am yearning for it.

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SNOOKUMS19 5/24/2011 7:41PM

    You know it is something you love when you can't not do it anymore. I feel that way about dancing. I feel a need for it. How awesome! Something healthy that we have to do :). Enjoy every run!

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LAURIETAIT 5/24/2011 5:19PM

    What a great night. Bike accessories, a movie and a terrific run. I prefer to run at night. I don't do well in the heat. Glad you've reclaimed your joy in running. I'm having a litle difficulty with that right now.

You're looking pretty terrific even when your sweaty from a run. You go girl!

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KRISKECK 5/24/2011 3:30PM

    That was awesome! You are a really wonderful writer, you really make your world come alive! And I just loved that about missing reminded me that when I started I hated to run and now I can't imgine not doing it, it is so much a part of me. Not that it I love every run, not that there aren't some that are just so tough, but the sheer act of running is just a part of me now - and of you too, I think!


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JENJESS48 5/24/2011 12:55PM

    Caffeine = great run for you, apparently! I wasn't worried about you not getting back into running. Sometimes we all need a break from our favorite pasttimes, but we always come back refreshed and even more in love with them. Congrats on the great run!

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KT-NICHOLS-13 5/24/2011 12:50PM

    "Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart." ~ Author Unknown

Sounds like you followed your heart. *SMILES*

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LOTUSFLOWER 5/24/2011 11:41AM

    OOooh, I love it!!!! I'm so glad that you missed it and didn't wait to take advantage of that feeling, even though you said you normally don't run at night. I was there right with you, you pulled me into the smells, sights, what a wonderful run you had!!! I am so proud of you and that after picture ROCKS!!! Love the salty carbs and caffeine goddesses too! You are my hero emoticon

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SHELLYBABE2 5/24/2011 11:14AM

    emoticon blog entry as usual TFS

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LMLOPEZ 5/24/2011 10:48AM

    Jenn, I'm so glad you discovered the night run. I am a night time exerciser and I LOVE the smell of the lilacs and the feel of the night air. Congrats on finding your "missing" passion.

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CALLIKIA 5/24/2011 10:10AM

    "there are good runs and there are bad runs" AMEN! I learned how much I truly loved it (and missed it) when it was taken from me due to injury. Now that I'm back, I feel the urge to run constantly (I actually felt it then too, which would make me sad because I could never follow through on it). I've run three times since I was given the "okay" from the doc and they haven't all been wonderful (yesterday's was SUPER difficult!) but I still think to myself - I CAN! I CAN!

Happy running!! :)

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REDHEADMOM2U 5/24/2011 8:30AM

    I loved reading this. And I will probably read it again tonight even; something so reaffirming about hearing other people work through the mental ups and downs.

I'm proud of you !!!

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LP5200 5/24/2011 7:53AM

    Great post! It's amazing how our bodies can begin to crave movement. Keep up the good work!

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ALOFA0509 5/24/2011 6:39AM

Perfect end to a Perfect evening!! Bravo sista emoticon

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MERULE 5/24/2011 4:17AM

  Wow, another proof of the fact that listening to one's body is the best thing to do!

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-POOKIE- 5/24/2011 1:53AM

    *smiles* I really enjoyed reading this, you really have a great way of making things so visual.

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    emoticon nice evening. Don't you love when motivation just smacks you and says let's go? Congrats on recognizing it and going with it!

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  I ran today, but not so far. I know I would miss running if I quit and I hope I don't have to any time soon. It makes me feel so alive!

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SARAHSSUNSHINE 5/24/2011 12:50AM

    BEAUTIFUL! This is so fantastic, I'm so glad it's become a part of your life that you can really enjoy. It's so easy to complain about it sometimes, but I guess there's a certain point in the running journey where a girl becomes the mistress of her runnin' legs. You just can't shut those gams up!

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Burning Calories, Not Gas!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I stole my blog title from today's guest dailySpark blog by Samuel C Klontz:

The blog is about bike commuting to work - the benefits and the hassles. But ultimately it IS about burning calories over gas and for the most part, really enjoying the daily trek to and from the office.

I wasn't aware that May was National Bike Month, nor was I aware that this week is National "Bike To Work" Week, but I'm thrilled that I'm participating in such a great thing anyway having already made the decision on my own in April to become more intimate with my pink lady bike, "Roxie" for the month of May. She's so pretty :)

As part of the Spring into Shape Bootcamp that I'm doing this month, I decided one of the easiest ways to kill two birds with one stone (getting to work and getting in my 5 days of cardio per week) was to dust off the bike, pump up the tires and darn well use it! The night before I started to ride I spent about 2 hours in the basement getting to know Roxie and all her parts. I adjusted the gear shift and the handle bars - figured out that the breaks were rubbing badly on the back wheel causing unnecessary friction and taught myself how to adjust those too. I greased the chain and oiled all the squeaky connections. I was feeling quite the handywoman by the end of it all!

It's honestly not as hard as it seems. Bikes are, by nature, simple pieces of equipment that actually have very few moving parts to figure out. And before you ride, you SHOULD be familiar with the ways in which your bike can (and inevitably will) work for you and against you. And always have a back-up plan! (Mine's loading Roxie on the nearest bus).

So far things have worked out great. After that first scary ride to and from the office, I'm now biking to work 3-4 days a week, swimming and doing Zumba for my other couple of cardio days. The first step was getting over the fear I had of sharing the road with cars and getting more confident with how Roxie maneuvers and feels to ride, switching gears and understanding what the gear shift is there for, choosing the route of least resistance with the lightest traffic and deciding whether or not I was going to ride at night. The next step was getting over the DOMS and the initial butt soreness of the first few days of riding - which is no pleasant feat, but you just gotta get back in that saddle and ride again! It DOES go away eventually.

I have now graduated from just riding to and from work, to riding to work, then rehearsal or show, then home, sometimes making a trip back to my theatre in between all of that. I can't tell you the amount of time I've saved waiting for and taking crowded rush hour buses! In fact, I have gone ahead and switched out my bus pass from a monthly rate to a pay-per-use for the rest of the summer. How's that for motivation to keep riding?! The money I'm saving will either go towards my trip to Africa in August, or to something else nice for myself.

It's not all sunshine and roses out there though. This morning a car turning left to catch a yellow light almost hit me. I've experienced riding in VERY heavy winds and fluctuating temperatures for the past week that have made the ride, at times, very unpleasant. Biking activates MAJOR muscle groups in the body including the core and the quads, glutes and calves, which I have now found makes me into a ravenous beast the majority of the time. If I'm not careful, I can easily eat back all the calories that I have burned (which surprisingly aren't as many as I wanted them to be) and so far, biking has not done me any favours on the scale. I'm attributing it to the fact that my quads are packing on major muscle, and since they're the largest group in the body, that must mean that they weigh quite a bit more than the fat that I'm losing off of them. I'll know more about my measurements in another couple of weeks when bootcamp wraps up, but for the time being, I seem to be losing more off my waist and hips, but not my legs. Whatever - I'll take it!

Biking all month has also put running on the back burner for a while. After a not-so-great 5K race a couple of weeks ago, I've decided to take the month off running. I'm giving myself a chance to miss it, because if I miss it, I'll want to do it again - and right now I don't miss it enough.

While training for races gives me a purpose for pushing myself harder and further on two feet, biking serves its own purpose on two wheels. It's providing me a daily function of getting to and from places in my work clothes (something I can't do if I'm running). I feel healthier, more confident, and I'll admit it - kinda cool out there - with the breeze in my face and the wind (hopefully) at my back!

And finally, it's putting me back in touch with my inner child. The child who won a brand new pink bike in a raffle at my local bike rodeo when I was 10, but who at that point in life was already too overweight to ride and really enjoy it. Sure I got some use out of that bike, but all too soon it was collecting dust in the garage rafters with the rest of my recreational equipment. I remember feeling a little heartbroken when my dad finally dragged it out of storage to sell at a family garage sale. Part of me wanted to protest, but a bigger part of me knew that if I wasn't going to use it, then I didn't deserve to have it. And when the little girl and her father who bought it for her walked away with their new treasure, I knew that bike belonged more to her than it ever had to me anyway.

It took me 20 years to invest in another bike. But this time I'll be darned if my pink lady is going to hang in the rafters collecting cobwebs. She was made to ride and I owe both her and myself another lap around the block.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANASAMM 5/29/2011 12:23PM

    Thanks for renewing my interest in cycling. We have some great "rail trails" in my area that I would love to try. Sounds like a lot of fun and a great way to burn off those stubborn calories. emoticon

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TEENY_BIKINI 5/23/2011 10:54PM

    I love Roxie. Enjoy the ride!


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ON2VICTORY 5/17/2011 9:00PM

    Biking is how i broke my first plateau, so cycling is really my first love, plan on doing it more this year for my cross training....

umm I have to ask... is Roxie still seeing her boyfriend you mentioned a while ago or was it "Gone With The Schwinn"?

emoticon I know, THAT was corny but I had to bring that up...

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TETICH 5/17/2011 8:43PM

    You go girl! emoticon

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REDHEADMOM2U 5/17/2011 6:32PM

    Rock Star for Roxie! I love it!

And...I may have to dust off my bike this weekend...ahemmmm...

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SBHPATRICK 5/17/2011 5:28PM

    Roxie IS beautiful!

I'm riding my bike to work on Friday and am really looking forward to it!

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JENJESS48 5/17/2011 4:20PM

    I LOVE that you named your bike - and of course that she's pink! You're also way braver than I am; I would never dare to bike in Chicago traffic. I could probably bike to work faster than I can drive, but I refuse to do it because I'd have to go through some very scary neighborhoods. You should have seen the look on Pat's face when I mentioned the idea of biking to work, lol. He knows better than to forbid me to do anything, but I think he'd try if I wanted to do that. I'm really impressed by you!

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    You are rocking it with Roxie! How cool that it is National Bike Month and Bike to Work Week. You are so right about having a back up plan. The other day when I picked up my bike from the shop. My bike felt really good, everything was tightened, shifting now worked, I was so happy. I rode about 3 miles, during which I hit a few bad holes. Suddenly the front tire sounded a little funny. I stopped and it was flat. GRRRRR! I then proceeded to walk my bike 1.5 miles to the closest air hose that I could think of. When I got there, already frustrated, I filled the tire with air, for it only to release all of the air I put in. Fortunately, I was at another bike shop (not a gas station), so I had them put in a new inner tube. Apparently my inner tube had split at the seam. I'm glad it wasn't the tire. I've been riding my bike to the gym and back now. I am looking forward to the Bike the Drive in two weeks. Should be fun and perfect for National Bike Month.

As far as not running, just think of biking a cross training. You need to trick your body and change things up every once in a while.

Enjoy the Riding. emoticon

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ERICACEAE 5/17/2011 3:23PM

    YES! I'm also a bike commuter and it's my #1 fitness and weight loss tool. Mine isn't nearly as cute though!

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GLORYBLOGS 5/17/2011 3:22PM

    Made me wish I had a work to bike to. My hubby used to bike to work when his office was closer.

Still, I want to get out. I live near a very nice jogging / bike trail. I'm thinking of getting a Big Butt seat though. =)

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LOTUSFLOWER 5/17/2011 3:17PM

    You are just amazing. I love that you are letting your inner child free, and I have a mad crush on Roxie!!

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LAURIETAIT 5/17/2011 2:54PM

    I love riding my bike to work too. It finally stopped raining every day so mine is coming out of storage today. Don't worry soon the lost inches will be easy to see.

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JENNSWIMS 5/17/2011 2:50PM

    You've inspired me to finally get off my butt and get our bikes tuned up so we can ride them this year.

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KT-NICHOLS-13 5/17/2011 2:38PM

    Great job. It sounds like you've embraced the experience and benefiting from it. Whoot!

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SLFRISBEY 5/17/2011 2:26PM

    I love it!!! You're a rock star for riding in the cold snap! Keep it up, I may see you out there on the streets of Chicago!

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