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Meal Plans with Some Recipes (low sodium)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Well, Spark Coach has asked me to record my quick and easy meal plans. Ha. Okay, I don't actually have meal plans per se. I am very consistent so I know week to week that we'll have one or two fish meals, beef for one night and perhaps one lunch, two or three or chicken meals and one or two where beans or nuts are the main protein. So, quick and easy is one protein served with a salad, a starch/grain, and veggies.

First of all, because of allergies, I can't eat: pork, dairy other than hard cheeses, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I limit sodium so I don't buy too many prepared foods other than bread. I do buy canned beans, tomato paste and diced tomatoes that are low sodium or no salt added. For tomato sauce I either make my own or use canned tomato paste and diced tomatoes mixed together with spices and fresh herbs. I don't add salt to food on my plate and I don't add extra salt to most recipes unless I'm baking, which I haven't done for the last three months.

I like to cook these things ahead: chicken, beef, kale, collard greens, beet greens and sometimes even potatoes. I'm not talking about massive amounts, that's only 1 to 2 pounds of chicken or 1/2 to 3/4 pound of beef; two to four meals. With the greens, I prepare them for cooking and if I have more than one bunch I'll split them in half and just cook half at a time. One bunch is usually enough for 2 - 4 cups. If this seems like a small amount, remember, I'm only cooking for two people.

I like to chop onions and peppers and other veggies, ahead of time. I will make and freeze (batch cook) things like chili or black bean chicken. You know, casseroles and slow cooker recipes that will freeze well. One of my friends likes to buy 5 or 10 pounds of ground meat and cook it all at once. She freezes it in 1 and 2 pound packages, then adds it to recipes as she needs it. My recipes change depending upon how nice the veggies are at the store and what's in season. Let's see if I can break that down.

Breakfast menus:
-- Fruit Smoothies -- Unsweetened Almond Milk with frozen fruit: bananas, blueberries, cherries, mango, peaches. You can also add peanut butter, cocoa, or protein powder, which I don't use because it contains whey. Oh, my husband, T, adds yogurt to his.
-- Egg Beaters omelets -- I like the Southwest Egg Beaters with additions of sautéed veggies: 1 to 2 tablespoons of onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms. Served with whole wheat toast or light English muffins
-- Oatmeal or Quinoa served with fruit. I like to add Almond Milk to mine.
-- French Toast -- For a real treat, I'll soak the whole wheat bread in the regular egg beaters and serve it with 1/2 teaspoon Smart Balance with Olive Oil and some powdered sugar.

Lunch menus:
-- Big Salad with 2 ounces of chicken or salmon. I don't use prepared salad dressings. I use lemon, vinegar, or olive oil and vinegar if I dress the salad at all.
-- Sandwich with 2 ounces of chicken, tomato, lettuce, hummus*
-- Tuna Sandwich, sometimes I'll open two cans of tuna and divide it out into individual portions and add chopped veggies to it. Then I only need to add a lemon, hummus, or mayo when I serve it.
-- Mission White Corn tortillas, 6 inch size with hummus or beans, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheddar.

Snacks: Fruit Smoothies, 1 oz peanuts or almonds, fresh fruit. When I really need a sweet fix I'll have 1 or 2 mini peppermint patties. I'm able to eat one or two of these and not go crazy, although I think T is having a difficult time of it, my peppermint patties keep disappearing.

Dinner/Supper menus:
Winter menus include chili, goulash, and casseroles. I don't make them often in the summer because they tend to have more sodium in them. Most dinners consist of protein: chicken, beef, beans, salmon, or other fish; starches/grains: sweet or white potatoes, pasta, or rice, and I'm thinking of trying quinoa; salad with romaine and tomatoes, because I prep my salad greens ahead I just have to measure them out; vegetables: whatever is in season, although I only like peas fresh off the vine and I'm not big on corn. I like corn, it just doesn't like me.
-- Baked Chips (similar to french fries) -- Cover baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with Pam, which I wipe around with a paper towel. Slice or wedge sweet and/or white potatoes, toss into gallon baggie with enough olive oil to thinly coat and add fresh chopped rosemary, basil, Italian parsley, garlic powder and pepper. Yes, you can add salt even though I don't. You can use dried herbs instead, too. Add whatever herbs and spices you enjoy. I don't measure. I just add what looks right. Bake for 20-40 minutes at 375 degrees. The thicker and bigger the pieces of potatoes, the longer it will take for them to cook! I served these at Christmas dinner last year and they were a big hit.
-- We love stuffed sweet or white potatoes. I just bake them in the microwave or cut them length-wise and place them, cut side down on a foil covered baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 20-30 minutes. I cut the potatoes in half then weigh them (in grams) so I know what to put in the food tracker. Then I scoop the potato out of the skin, add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Smart Balance, 2-4 tablespoons shredded cheddar and about 1/2 cup of sautéed or steamed veggies. T likes to add hummus to his and he says it taste good with grated romano cheese instead of the cheddar.
-- Mac n' cheese (This is not a fast recipe because it does take time to prep the veggies, however, most of my prep is done ahead of time)

2 oz dry pasta, cook, drain and set aside.

sautéed vegetables, this varies depending upon what I have on hand and what I need to eat to balance out the day, but can include: 1 to 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon to 1/2 cup onion, peppers (red, green, jalapeño, poblano) and/or carrots. Then add 1/2 cup to 1 cup steamed kale, broccoli cut in small pieces add up to 1/2 cup water and steam broccoli. Uncover, then add cooked mushrooms, tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil last, stir these in until warm. Generally, it comes down to about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of steamed kale plus uncooked veggies per person. They cook down quite a bit. The steamed kale is the only veggie measured after it's cooked!

Stir into veggies 1/4 cup hummus* adding more water if needed or cooking it down if it's too wet. I've given the amounts per person. I cook this for two people, so I double the veggies and hummus and then divide it. Put veggies over pasta and stir it in.

Add 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, you can microwave until the cheese starts to melt. Sprinkle with 2 to 4 tablespoons parmesan or romano cheese. Serve with a tossed salad on the side. You can also divide the recipe in half and serve as a side instead of an entrée.
-- T's Hummus -- T makes this in the blender, but it can be made in a food processor, too.

2 cans chick peas (low sodium) drain and rinse one can, using the liquid in one for the recipe. If you drain and rinse all the beans use up to 1/2 cup water to get the right consistency and to be able to blend the beans. The hummus will be smoother if you use the liquid from the beans, but it will have more sodium.
juice from 1 lemon
1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons Texas Pete hot pepper sauce. This is the salt in the recipe. 1 teaspoon of Texas Pete has 100 mg sodium. This recipe makes ~ 10 1/4 servings, so that's 10 mg per 1/4 serving.
Add salt to taste. If you don't add the hot sauce then the regular recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt. If you're not used to a low salt diet you will need to add salt.

T blends this for about 5 minutes (making a horrible noise). Blend it to the consistency you like. If you want it thinner, add more water. I use this hummus on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.
I love peanut sauce, but it has a lot of sodium. So my husband, T, and I played around with the recipe. We replaced the soy sauce with balsamic vinegar. We decided that we would make our own peanut butter. I put dry roasted, unsalted peanuts in the food processor and just run it until the peanut butter is smooth. That's it. I buy the 14 oz jar and process the whole thing at once. When I add peanut butter to a recipe, it's by weight.

Thai Peanut Sauce (low sodium)

4 oz (by weight) peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 oz fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
enough water to make a light sauce

Add peanut butter and the dry ingredients to mini food processor. Pulse until mixed. Add the lime juice and vinegar, process. Add water 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time until you have the desired consistency. It needs to be fairly thin in order to cover the noodles and the veggies. Of course, that might not fit in the mini processor. You can add more water or broth to your veggies when you steam them.

I love serving this on whole wheat spaghetti with sautéed and/or steamed vegetables. Sliced sweet and hot peppers, onions, bok choy, cabbage, julienne carrots, and broccoli are my favorites. You can microwave peanuts for 30 to 60 seconds to roast them and add them on top of the bowl to serve. The peanuts are the protein, but they do add a lot of fat, so you can adjust the recipe to suit you. My husband likes to put dried Thai peppers in his. (Too hot for me!) You can serve this with diced chicken, beef, pork, or fish if you want to add more protein.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HONEYPOT319 8/21/2012 6:52AM

    Love the menus! You are awesome! :)

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MIDORI_SPARK 8/20/2012 12:56AM

    Wow, does this ever sound good, Linda. Everythiing on here! Thank you for sharing, I got some great ideas for healthy foods (and your comment on my last blog helped with that too!)


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IMSOOZEEQ 8/19/2012 10:20PM

    Wow I love what you have done here! What a planning star you are!!! emoticon
I have copied this all down! I will be trying these ideas very soon!

Thanks for sharing!

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EMMALEMMA33 8/19/2012 10:04PM

    Great ideas on this blog! Thanks for sharing!! :)

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DESERTJULZ 8/19/2012 8:02PM

    Wow! I never thought of hummus in mac & cheese! Sounds totally delish! I do like to add steamed cauliflower to the mac & cheese to add veggies & reduce calories, so I really relate to your mac-veggies-&-cheese!

You said about smoothies: "You can also add peanut butter, cocoa, or protein powder, which I don't use because it contains whey."

I won't eat whey either; however, I use protein powder nearly every day. I get the Garden of Life RAW Protein. No whey, no dairy, no soy. It's made entirely from sprouted seeds & grains, which are then freeze-dried & ground. Super good for you & the plain is virtually flavorless, so it just adds protein (& vitamins, fiber) without messing with the flavor or your smoothies. :D

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HANAHSCLOUDY 8/19/2012 7:10PM

    Holy Cow!! You are 1 planned woman!! Was this something you have always done or since Spark? What day are you on in the Spark Coach that ask you to do this?

I hope I didn't miss it somehow, because this is a very weak area for me!

I think I'm a tad intimidated now...yikes ! emoticon You a dang Pro!

Do you take 1 day a week to cut and precook?

My gosh, you a smart emoticon!

Hugz emoticon Face!!

Have a great night!! I'm going back to the kitchen to prepare more now ;)


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NANASAMM 8/19/2012 2:37PM

    Great ideas! I love peanut sauce too so I will try this. Thanks for sharing.

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VERONICA722 8/19/2012 9:27AM

some great ideas. I like your humus and peanut recipes.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 8/20/2012 6:42:44 PM

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SENATOR9 8/19/2012 8:27AM

    You sure do lots of work emoticon

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MIDNIGHTER1 8/18/2012 8:51PM

    Your menu sounds awesome. I am also a person who watches their sodium. I do buy canned veggies and i rinse the crap out of them. I don't add sodium to my foods and i try to add herbs and spices to add flavor or Ms. Dash.
I am going to try the almond milk. emoticon

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LTMURPHY7 8/18/2012 5:33PM


WOW You can cook for me anytime.
This sounds great but SOoo much work

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Hey, I Really Like Spark Coach!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My friend, HANAHSCLOUDY talks about Spark Coach in her latest blog. She said at first she wondered if Spark Coach would be redundant, but she's found that it helped her get her MOJO back!

I was also wondering if Spark Coach was redundant. Instead I found Spark Coach makes me more accountable. It also helps me to see the good things I'm doing. I never feel as though I'm good enough and I don't handle compliments well, so I never give myself enough credit for doing well. I'm very hard on myself, however, it really does help to have someone tell me that I'm doing a good job and Spark Coach does that. Oh, don't get me wrong, my Spark friends tell me that, too and positive feedback is always welcome! I believe it's something we all need.

I have learned how to use the Spark People site, so I don't need much help with that, but at times I have found that all of the information can be overwhelming. There is so much information about exercise that I occasionally find it contradictory and confusing and when I've asked questions on the community message board I get even more confused. Perhaps with Spark Coach I'll be able to get a more definitive answer since I will be able to ask an expert. I like that Spark Coach directs you to specific articles that complement the video of the day because it gives me a clearer picture and it's not so overwhelming.

I'm thinking of continuing to use Spark Coach! I never thought I'd say that. Spark People is such a positive place to be and I've been able to build a solid foundation of good habits. Spark Coach goes even further and takes that positive attitude and provides a positive environment that helps to reinforce those habits. Of course, now I have to wonder, what happens in 12 weeks? Do you start at the beginning all over again? Just what is the next level, because I started in May 2012 with 100 pounds to lose and repeating the first three months over and over might have me tearing my hair out!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DESERTJULZ 8/13/2012 10:03AM

    I've been wondering about Spark Coach. I'm within just a few pounds of goal weight, so initially my thought was that I didn't need it. However, being at the right weight and being as strong & fit as I want to be are completely different. Perhaps SP Coach would push me on the fitness, too?

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HANAHSCLOUDY 8/13/2012 10:01AM

    Way to go emoticon!

I went a head and got the 3 month special. I too wondered to how it continues along with us? WE shall find out! On the Upside, IT CAN"T hurt! emoticon

Repeating the first 3 months, over and over........EWWWW. emoticon

Hmm, I am doing it over for the second time, and see many areas I didn't focus the first?

Have a great day!

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MIDNIGHTER1 8/12/2012 11:33AM

    Good for you ,Linda. What will you do after 12 weeks? You will gain so much knowledge and motivation, you will just know what to do. It is good to get expert advice that can help you on your journey.If it gives you enthusiasm and motivation, go for it.Message boards are just what that person did to get their results, not the same for everybody. emoticon

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HONEYPOT319 8/12/2012 9:40AM


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SENATOR9 8/12/2012 9:10AM


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CSTERLING 8/11/2012 8:32PM

    I just joined Spark Coach today... It gave me a little boost too, but it's just the first day. I hope it turns out to be something awesome... this site is great already. I really hope I decide Spark Coach is worth the money. Time will tell.

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  I've just begun to use spark coach. I had the same reservations you've expressed and like you have been very pleasantly surprised. There is a LOT of information out there and correlating it can be a challenge. What I really like about sparkcoach is they break it down to doable goals for each day. I find this so much easier to get my head around.

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It's been a good week.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

I just walked 50 minutes! Yes! Happy Dancing to RESPECT, go Aretha! I know it may not be much to other people, but I've just spent two weeks slowly restarting after over training. Again. It's so hard to take it slowly!

I've had a good week. One of my friends decided she had to get me out of the house. She promised to take me shopping for clothes. My clothes really do hang on me. I ended up with two outfits. They weren't even black! My friend had all these places she needed to go so that by the time we were done we went so many places I can't remember them all!

Oh, but we had fun! We talked and laughed and it was great. I haven't done that for over two years. It took me a whole day to recover. I was mentally and physically exhausted. So I ended up having two rest days this week but it was worth it. And that's another good thing about this week, I'm not tired all the time. (Except for Thursday!)

Today is Saturday and I need to go grocery shopping. I try not to shop on the weekend. It's easier to go during the week, but my husband promised to take me out to eat. Yikes! Twice in one week. I'm going anyway. It is absolutely beautiful outside. Well, if you don't consider 86 degrees with 63% humidity and the dew point at 72 degrees too bad. There is a breeze and this is cooler than it's been. Hey, I love it!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HANAHSCLOUDY 8/13/2012 10:06AM

    I have that song on my IPOD. Happy Dancing? Is that a certain dance, or routine?

I got a wii dance thing to try, some fast dancing there WHEW! I'm still in the demo area, they move so fast.........

Have a great day!

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DESERTJULZ 8/5/2012 3:28PM

    Hey! That's big! A 50 minute walk is awesome!

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HONEYPOT319 8/5/2012 12:20PM

    emoticon Great blog! Enjoy your dinner out my friend!

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SENATOR9 8/5/2012 9:11AM


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MIDORI_SPARK 8/4/2012 4:53PM

    Wonderful! I am so glad to hear what a great week it has been for you. Happy to hear also that you've treated yourself to some (colourful!) new clothes! I'm the same way, I dressed in grey and black for years, and only recently have started adding colour to my wardrobe. It makes me feel a little bit more energized during the day.

I'm sure next week will be great as well!

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MIDNIGHTER1 8/4/2012 3:29PM

    Like my mom use to say,"Some progress, beats no progress" Good for you.You are gaining momentum. It is good to visit with friends,it lifts your spirit and relaxes your mind on something other than losing weight. Congrats on losing some inches and dressing in more festive colors. Probably fit your happier mood. Win! Win! emoticon

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FLYINGCRANE 8/4/2012 1:43PM

    Congrats on the new clothes!!! They will make you feel great. You will feel less tired and more energetic over time.

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LOSE4LIFE47 8/4/2012 1:39PM

    Good to hear you had a good week.

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Learning to Trust Myself

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Over the years I've been on many diets. What did I learn? All the things everyone else knows about diets, too. I also learned not to trust myself. I learned to tell myself that I can't. It didn't matter what it was, my answer was always the same. I can't. I can't lose weight. I can't exercise. I don't have to tell myself this, I just know I can't.

Ten weeks ago today I decided I can't. No, I mean I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE! I don't want to be the person who can't lose weight. I don't want to be the person who can't exercise. I don't want to be the person who seldom leaves the house. I don't want to be the person who can't believe in herself anymore, who can't trust herself.

Every week I worry that no matter how hard I work at eating right and exercising that it won't work. I tell myself if I can't trust myself, then I can trust SparkPeople. It works for other people, it can work for me.

Now I need to work at something else. Set a new goal: learning to trust myself.

I think that somehow, I need to get it through my thick skull that every step I take, every mindful choice I make is part of rebuilding that trust in myself. I'm strong. I know I am. In my life I've done things I never thought I could. I've faced those things and handled them well. Of course, I felt, at the time, that I had to face those things because it was the only way forward. This is the same thing, isn't it? I'm committing to a healthy lifestyle. That's not a frightening prospect, that's a joyous, momentous decision!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HANAHSCLOUDY 8/1/2012 10:51AM

    Aww, what a wonderful read for me this morning. emoticon To just keep going in spite of myself.

You are a constant joy, and a wonderful giving person. Thank you sooooooo much for taking the time thinking about my blogs. And all the heart felt sentiments and encouragement you have given me!!

I feel like your sitting here enjoying a cup of coffee when I read your responses!


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DESERTJULZ 7/20/2012 11:23PM

    Linda, I trust you. You will make the right choices. I know this. You will succeed. I know this too!


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MIDORI_SPARK 7/20/2012 4:57PM

    This is a great new goal, and I hope that you will achieve it soon! We all trust that you can do this :)

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MIDNIGHTER1 7/19/2012 9:45AM

    I just woke up one day and decided I was tired of being fat. I decided I did not want to do like other I saw,lose weight and then go back to bad habits and put it back on and more. I heard two voices ,one that said I could do it ,the other said I could not.
I decided to listen to the first one. Your mind will tell you many things like,it's too hard,I'll start tomorrow or you can't do it. Meanwhile your desire will tell you that you can. You have to fight and believe.Good for you.

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SUNSHINE192DAY 7/18/2012 8:50PM

    Very proud of you! I'm in the same boat right now and I'm so glad to have someone else voice what I've been feeling! Thank you sooo much for that!

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SNOOPY-ACE 7/18/2012 8:49PM

    The right mine will help do your I CANS! You can do it .

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Much harder to use Spark when my internet

Monday, July 16, 2012

connection keeps going down! And then a couple of hours ago I tried to open my SparkPage and was told it wasn't available, to try again later! Arrrgh! I'm hoping the cable company is updating their equipment and it's not some kind of problem on my line. I do need to call, this has been going on for almost a week now. They have one of those phone system menus that's so annoying that by the time you speak to an actual person you're either really agitated or you've forgotten why you called! Maybe they do that on purpose?

I'm not sure it would be as annoying if I had slept more than 4 hours last night. I was doing so well. My sleeping 7 hours or more a night streak was at 7 days in a row! I can't believe that I used to sleep 4 or 5 hours a night at least five nights a week. Now I know why I couldn't function well. It took me over an hour to fix breakfast this morning. Well, really it was more like lunch by the time I was done. It would have been even later if my husband hadn't helped me. Yikes! It's really good that this is a rest day.

Other than the above, I'm doing really well. Especially now that the temperature has dropped 10 degrees. Now I can exercise more. In fact, I need to start using heavier weights for my ST. Yeah!

Since I started SparkPeople I've been walking on the treadmill five to seven times a week. I have never included the 5 minute warm up and the 5 minute cool down in my walking time. I think I should but I don't know how. Do I say that I walked 3 mph for 30 minutes and then estimate the average mph for those 10 minutes or do I say I walked 40 minutes at 3mph? I put in the time, so shouldn't it count?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HONEYPOT319 7/17/2012 7:24AM

    You should count it all! Way to go lady! :)

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MIDORI_SPARK 7/17/2012 5:15AM

    That sounds so frustrating! I hate when I have problems with my internet connection. And not sleeping, that's a tough one too. I hope it gets better for you soon.

I'm glad to hear there is good news, too though! Maybe cooler temperature = more exercise = easier sleep? I'm hoping so, anyway :)

Sorry, I'm not sure about the treadmill logging question.

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