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Hot Chocolate 5k - Race Report

Monday, November 08, 2010

"Runners just do it - they run for the finish line even if someone else has reached it first." -Author Unknown

As some of you may know, about a week ago I woke up on a Friday morning and my lower back was hurting so badly that I couldn’t even sit in my desk at work and had to call in sick. It hurt to move, let alone walk or run. The first thought to cross my mind was “What about the Hot Chocolate??” I was devastated and couldn’t see me running a 5k anytime soon.

I went to a chiropractor that came highly recommended and she took tests and x-rays and to make a long story short I need to see her a lot over the next 6 weeks. She gave me an adjustment and told me that I would be OK to run if I felt ok, that I should stop the moment I was in any pain.

So I knew it was all in God’s hands, and that I would do my best. I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I had to walk any of it, but I would be let down and disappointed. I started to view the race as not a “timed race or event”, but just as a nice run along the lakefront. Seeing it this way in my head made it seem like it was a short distance and something that was more casual than a “race”. 3.1 miles? No prob!

The day started out cold, I had my newly purchased “Will Run For Chocolate” hat on, winter gloves, and a wind resistant jacket. I had spent the night in the city at my sister Kara’s house so that we would be ready for the 5 a.m. wake up call, and to get on a Metra at that time of morning would just be brutal and insane.

She was so sweet and even laid out my cereal for me that morning, with a banana on the side – my race day breakfast of choice. I felt loved and nurtured and later she told me it was to get me to hurry (I tend to be a slow riser), but it still was such a sweet gesture.

We got on the Blue Line and I am used to the suburbs, so to see at least 50 people at the stop – all in brown Hot Chocolate hoodies was just amazing! Then once on the El it was packed with…you guessed it…hoodies! The race had 30,000 participants, so I guess it makes sense. It was just surreal to be getting on the train in the dark with all of these other people, all going to the same place. But it made me feel like a part of something, and also made me feel like an athlete – it was pretty cool.

Me (right) with my sister Kara

We met up with fellow Sparkers Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick. I missed Mel (MELMEI), I must have passed her on the street. I also met Shelley (FARLEY_GIRL) and another Sparker, I don’t remember her name right now (I'm terrible w/ names)…I had to leave the group to meet up with my other sister, Kris (STEMMEFATALE) because I had safety pins for her, but we stopped to check our gear first. It was already past 7:30 and the race started at 7:40. The gear check lines were LONG. We ended up check all of our gear (mine, Kara and Jan’s) together under my number because for some reason the line was MUCH shorter, we’re talking 3 people vs. 40. By the time we got to the race corral it was so packed we had to wait outside of the corral and wait for the line to move up and then we all herded in. It was 10 minutes past the official start time of 7:40.

Official picture from RAM Racing to give you an idea of how dark it was.

Official start picture from RAM Racing.

And we’re off! I started off slow and easy and kept that pace most of the run. I saw my other sister, Kris (STEMMEFATALE) a few minutes after we started running , which was great because she is the one who inspired me to run a 5k, and we usually run together, and I wasn’t able to find her before the race to give her the safety pins, and it made me sad. I saw someone that looked like her pass me, and I looked at Kara and said “I think that’s Kris” and it was! So I ran up to her and we ran for a bit together, but her pace is naturally faster than mine so I told her to go ahead.

I did speed up to go around walkers at times. I didn’t mind the walkers at all, but I do think they need to have a later starting time. There were so many of them that they weren’t all off to the right, many were on the left and at times the path was narrow and it was difficult to pass. They had entertainment on the route, there were cheerleaders and I thought that was pretty awesome.

I kept running, stopping for some water at the break station, and because this is where the main traffic jam happened. I had to stop for a second anyway, so I might as well grab some water. Then I kept running.

As I turned the corner, looking onto the lake front the sun was rising and it was just gorgeous. The song from Bedoin Soundclash “Mountain Top” came on my iPod and it was so appropriate. I felt kind of like I had climbed a mountain during this journey of mine from a couch potato to a runner. I felt a calmness wash over and a voice inside of my head said “Don’t forget this. Don’t ever forget this.” It’s not every day that I get to run along the lake front. The sun was shining and it was just a gorgeous Chicago day.

At this point traffic along the path slowed down to a halt. Almost everyone in front of me was walking, and the other runners took to the slope of grass that was above the path so that they could run. I followed suit, but then soon regretted my decision when I saw we’d have to jump down in order to get on the next stretch of slope. Jumping was not in my plan of keeping my back and knee healthy. So I remained on the path along the lake and it slowed me down, but I kept running.

My sister Kara and her boyfriend Jan pretty much ran by my side, sometimes I would lose them but they would catch up and we crossed the finish line together. I had never ran a race with my sister Kara, so this was very cool to me, an experience I will cherish forever. As I neared the finish line a song that I wasn’t aware I put on my workout playlist came on. It is a Christian song called “Unrestrained” and it was just perfect to have that be the song as I neared the finish line. The song is from a compilation album called "Pure Worship" and it starts off with "Lord, I worship you, most Holy Lord, you have my attention." - I certainly did have His attention as I didn't know this song was on my workout playlist. It is about honoring God in every way, and pouring our love on him and my whole life belonging to Him. Even in my running, I am worshiping God, and as the song here, giving him my heart unrestrained. I couldn’t have done any of this without God. It was really a wonderful moment. I keep my Christian music separate from my workout music, and it was just a happy “accident” to have that song come on!

Overall I finished in 41 minutes and 38 seconds. This was my slowest 5k time to date, but you know what? This was the best race experience I’ve had so far. My back injury forced me to relax about the race and also to just enjoy the scenery. I wasn’t nervous like I normally am. I think I learned a lot from this experience, most of all to just enjoy the race! That could be applied to life, too. Sometimes I tend to be a worrier and instead of enjoying the moment I worry it to death. From now on I am going to try and take things one day at a time.

I also finished 43rd out of the 100 entrants in my age class. So I was in the top half, not too shabby for someone who a year ago would never have thought of running a 5k.

After the race with my sister Kara

After the race with my two sisters - Kris (STEMMEFATALE) on my left and Kara on my right.

Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) after the race

Then it was onto the hot chocolate and fondu! The fondu was a very nice set up. The elements were all in a dish and then fresh, hot chocolate was scooped into your tray and you were ready to dip!

After that I said goodbye to my sisters and headed off with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick for a photo shoot at Buckingham Fountain. My camera was acting up, so only one of those came out, but Jenn took several great shots, one of us posing as Charlies' Angels, it was hilarious!

Spark Girls!

Angels style!

Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick.

Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48)

Patrick, Me, Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48)

Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and my Family

Then we walked about a mile to go to brunch at Yolk, a restaurant I had been dying to go to since I saw it on Check, Please. It was worth the 45 minute wait (where we all stretched out as we waited).

I ordered the Eggs Benedict and ate half of it. It lived up to its name of the best in the city! The coffee was also excellent.


Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID)

Jen (JENJESS48) with Patrick. They walked their first 5k, I'm so proud of them!

Then it was off to catch my train.

I had a great time and it was so much fun to meet fellow Sparkers!! It’s a day I won’t forget soon. I am so very proud of Jenn (KITHKINCAID), who ran her first 5k and to know that I inspired her to do so. To have a friend that inspired me to try a new dance, Zumba, and to have inspired her back is just amazing. Kind of like a fitness "pay it forward". There isn't any gift greater than that. And to run the race with her was an experience that is just priceless.

If you think you can't do it, YOU CAN. Just put one foot in front of the other.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FABAT402009 11/14/2010 8:05PM

    I was at this race, not running just supporting a friend who's a runner. How cool is that, small world!

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SKFEREBEE 11/9/2010 2:30PM

    Sounds like a wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing. emoticon

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AMBER281 11/9/2010 12:49PM

    Congrats on such a fabulous race and the wonderful day you had!
Thanks for sharing!

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FARLEY_GIRL 11/9/2010 11:45AM

    Fabulous job!!!!! I was one of the early Sparkers to meet you Saturday morning but w/ the craziness of everything and everybody I missed meeting up w/ you guys and lost Pat & Jen less than a mile into the race :-(

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WCATAP 11/9/2010 11:26AM

    This was an incredible experience. I felt like I was there with you! Great report. I want to train for one in the spring. Praise God for His faithfulness and encouragemnet to you. You did a great job!!!

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PAULACOLLINS 11/9/2010 11:12AM

    Thanks so much for sharing--it sure is a testimony to how awesome our God is!! Love the bit about the song--you may want to add in some more Christian music in your workout mix. It always motivates me. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ROEANDGO 11/9/2010 10:45AM

    I love the phrase you kept telling yourself..."Don't forget this", "Don't forget this".... We need to remember that even in hard times, good times, or race times to live in the moment! You did that!

Congrats on the completing the race even with a back issue. Wonderful!!

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MS_MANDA 11/9/2010 10:13AM

    Congrtas on the 5k!!! & all the food looks amazing! Seems like you guys had a wonderful day :)

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STARLIGHT615 11/9/2010 8:37AM

    So proud of you~~~ You did amazing!! Keep up the great work sweetie!! Love ya!!

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    Great job, I am so proud of you.

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CYCLINGSANDY 11/9/2010 4:55AM

    You are rockin' awesome! What an accomplishment. I am looking forward to many more races reports because you are noe officially a runner. emoticon emoticon

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SHERYLDS 11/9/2010 4:42AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
Fantastic! All your hard work is really paying off
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KITHKINCAID 11/9/2010 12:12AM

    Such a great day. YOU are awesome. A thousand times thank you for talking me into this craziness :) Can't wait to do it again!

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CM_GARDNER78 11/8/2010 9:30PM


AWESOME!! You did great!! You have to be so proud!!! WAHOO!

~ Christa

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YATMAMA 11/8/2010 9:01PM

    How awesome!!!

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TRIGFROST 11/8/2010 8:16PM

    what a "Wonderful Day" for you. sisters and their Hubby... time w/ Family makes it Specical for you... emoticonon the race...

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JENJESS48 11/8/2010 8:08PM

    I'm so glad you had a great run despite your injuries!

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KSGROTHE 11/8/2010 7:15PM

    emoticon on your Hot Chocolate 5K! I love that hat!

I'm so glad that your back and knee were OK for you to run the whole race, and it sounds like you made a very wise choice not to follow the runners jumping down to pass the walkers. Thanks for sharing these great pictures!

Keep up the good work! emoticon

- Karen

Comment edited on: 11/8/2010 7:16:24 PM

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    soooooooo proud of you! and i love the pictures! and...you just rock! you are amazing!! wooohoo!

oh and i love the spark shirt!

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Funny Quote: Win Joke Blog #3

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found."
-- Calvin Trillin

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AMBER281 11/8/2010 4:44PM


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JUDITH316 11/2/2010 11:25PM

    LOL now that's too funny... emoticon

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YATMAMA 11/2/2010 8:15PM


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MISSKWEST 11/2/2010 1:51PM

    It must be that generation, I feel the same way!

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KITHKINCAID 11/2/2010 1:48PM

    Haha! This is totally my mom. My brothers and I would always be like "are we seriously going to eat that again? It's been in the fridge for a week!"

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SRAGEE1972 11/2/2010 1:46PM

    Sounds just like my mother used to when we were young, she was very creative.

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MABTE52 11/2/2010 1:45PM

    Love it!!! Sounds like my aunt! emoticon

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In Good Company: Win Joke Blog #2

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

My daughter couldn't muster the willpower to lose unwanted pounds. One day, watching a svelte friend walking up our driveway, she lamented, "Linda's so skinny it makes me sick."

"If it bothers you," I suggested gently, "why don't you do something about it?"

"Good idea, Mom," she replied. Turning to her friend, she called out, "Hey, Linda, have a piece of chocolate cake."

-- Doris E. Fletcher

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOTUSFLOWER 11/2/2010 1:51PM

    Jenn, that's terrible!!! I meant this totally as a joke, I love it when I see others succeed and if anything I want to know their "secret". It's so nice to have found Spark and that there are no miracles, just simple, honest tracking, exercise, it does the trick, LOL!!

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KITHKINCAID 11/2/2010 1:43PM

    Haha - no jokes though, my office mate who just lost a pile of weight has been experiencing some unpleasant comments and sentiments from people lately who are just totally jealous. People can be terrible when that green eyed monster rears it's ugly head.

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No More Meat :) Win Joke Blog #1

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The teacher in our Bible class asked a woman to read from the Book of Numbers about the Israelites wandering in the desert. "The Lord heard you when you wailed, 'If only we had meat to eat!' " she began. "Now the Lord will give you meat. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, or ten or twenty days, but for a month -- until you loathe it." When the woman finished, she paused, looked up and said, "Hey, isn't that the Atkins diet?"

-- David Martino

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REENSKI 11/6/2010 12:57PM


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JUDITH316 11/2/2010 11:29PM

    emoticon thanks for the chuckles, after the day I had these cute joke notes have sure helped lighten up the heavies.

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DANIELLEBREEN 11/2/2010 9:33PM

    hahaha that's cute!

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JENJESS48 11/2/2010 5:14PM

    Hilarious blogs today! Thanks for sharing.

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QUANNA76 11/2/2010 4:44PM


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CM_GARDNER78 11/2/2010 1:27PM

    emoticon Love it!!! HAHAHAHA!

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KITHKINCAID 11/2/2010 1:22PM

    Hahaha! Bible humour - I love it :)

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QUEENAN1 11/2/2010 12:53PM

    emoticon Too funny!

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SNIKWAD 11/2/2010 12:45PM

    Make it a Ribeye and I'm all for it emoticon

emoticon emoticon

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    that's funny...even tho i did throw up a little bit in my mouth fromt he pic! hahaha

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BOBBIENORTHERN 11/2/2010 12:37PM

    funny, I like this, good for you or who so ever emoticon

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October Progress Report

Monday, November 01, 2010

October Progress Report:

Start weight: 221
End weight: 218
Weight lost: 3 lbs.
Weight lost since the beginning of the year: 39.5 lbs.
Total weight lost: 80 lbs.

It was my goal to lose 6 lbs. again this month, but I only got halfway to that goal. I didn’t reach my goal of 13 lbs. for Halloween, but I did dress up as Marilyn and still looked pretty darn good.

However I did reach a total of 80 lbs. lost!!

My goal next month is to get to my wedding weight, 213, which is 5 lbs.

Grade for the month: B-

Fitness accomplishments:

My V02 score went from “Poor” to “Good”!

I can now do the jumping jack kicks in Leslie Sansone’s video. I used to have to modify it, but now I can jump and skip rope.


A woman at my church said I was like the incredible shrinking woman and that the only other time she’s seen anyone lose weight that quickly was when her poor husband suffered a stroke and had to change his eating habits, losing 91 lbs.

My old boot camp instructor came up to me at the gym and said “Wow, you’re the incredible shrinking woman!”

I now look forward to doing things outside with my family and strive to make fitness fun.

Lucy commented on how sculpted my arms are and said she wants to be strong like me!

I did strength training one night while watching TV instead of cuddling under the covers like I wanted to. I knew I needed to get it in, and I felt better for doing it.

My “new” size 16 tankini bottoms were falling off of me in my water aerobics class!

My husband watched me without my knowing while I ran the track at the gym and he told me how proud of me he was – he said I had a power stride and I was so focused, he could barely tell it was me.

A co-worker asked me if I had run the Chicago Marathon and he wasn’t kidding.

Another co-worker that I only see twice a year said “Hey, you lost a bunch of weight! You’re, like, skinny now!”

I can fit into my lingerie from my honeymoon.

During a busy week at work there were these yummy gooey cookies after one of the meetings and instead of having one (I am sure that even 1/2 of one was 250-300 cals) I ate a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream cookie - which is still bad, but 170 calories, so I could count it and be confident that it wasn't some crazy 500 calories or something for a cookie.

I am proud of the fact that although I am so busy at work this week that I have found time (even if it's only 10 min) to work out and also have stayed w/in my calories.

I got hungover from ONE glass of wine...A girl loses 80 lbs. and then can't hold her liquor

I dressed up as Marilyn Monroe for Halloween and got lots of compliments, the best one being from my sister who said that I looked more like HOLLY MADISON (the Playboy Bunny) than Marilyn!!

My husband told me I was “getting’ tight”

One weekend it was pouring rain and I didn’t have an umbrella for me or Lucy – I was rushing to get her to dance class. We ran about ½ block to the building and then after dropping her off I ran back to my car. I would never have been able to do that just a year ago. I wasn’t even out of breath!


It was a challenge goal in the Sunny Gals team to pamper ourselves the last week in October.

I purchased some nice tea - Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie tea - this is fabulous! A nice hint of vanilla. I take time out of my day to have a cup and not do ANYthing else....I breathe in the aroma first, then sip...slowly.

I bought new bubble bath and plan to take a nice bath this week. I realized I haven't taken a bath in our bathtub since Lucy was born 4 yrs. ago!!! I used to always do this.

I purchased some really nice lotion and in the morning instead of rushing I take time to put it on and take time for me before I start each day.

I read a verse from the bible each morning to keep me on track for my day. I love the Bible in a Year for Women, it's all laid out for each day.

My hands at work get really dry and lotion alone doesn’t cut it. So I bought hand salve by Burt’s Bees, it’s an ointment in a small tin I can carry in my purse.

I’m also going to get my eyebrows threaded this week and get a haircut/trim.


Don’t let one setback (a day or an entire weekend) literally “set you back”. Get right back on track and you will be fine. You may even still see a loss on the scale. I did, and I was ready to throw in the towel.

Never underestimate the call of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Stay away! One bite turns into two.

There isn’t such a thing as too much exercise. I used to think “Oh, I’m running later, so I’ll rest up now”. Lately I’ve been trying to do a mile with Leslie every morning, just 15 minutes of my day, but it makes a big difference. I can do that AND run later. I won’t collapse or anything.

Don’t let sodium creep in. One day of high sodium can ruin a weigh in day. Moderation in all things.

You can’t go back. Ever. Ever. Ever.

When you look back (because let’s face it, it happens sometimes) life can look sweeter, perhaps you’re missing out. You’re not. Life has changed and evolved, and so have you. You are a new person. I am a new person. So move it along, please.

A bad weekend CAN add 5 lbs. to your body. Relax, it will come off as soon as the sodium exits your system and the alcohol.

My October Spark Calendar. Yellow is good.

Down 47 lbs. from last October.

A comparison photo of myself at last year's horrorfest and this year's horrorfest. Not at my highest weight, but I can see a big difference still. This is showing a 47 lb. loss from last October to this October.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SKFEREBEE 11/4/2010 12:16PM

    Your non-scale victories are emoticon! emoticon!

You are very inspiring! emoticon

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FLYSOHIGH 11/3/2010 5:32PM

    Wow, you just NEVER STOP. I love how consistent your progress it. I love those monthly reports you write. SO INSPIRING. Thank you!!!

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JLITT62 11/2/2010 5:43AM

    I can see a big difference in your face & your arms!

You have done great. You have learned a lot of great stuff. Keep up the great work!

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HEARTS4ME 11/1/2010 10:32PM

  Oh my gosh! I am sooooooo proud of you! You rock!

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AMBER281 11/1/2010 10:04PM

    Great job!!!

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YATMAMA 11/1/2010 9:52PM

    You ROCK!!!

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TITALADY 11/1/2010 4:55PM

    Great job lady! emoticon

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FARLEY_GIRL 11/1/2010 2:56PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

woohoo!!! on the 80 lbs and all the other NSVs (ha! I learned a new acronym :) ) Hopefully we'll get to meet this Saturday @ the Chocolate extravaganza :-) I'll be walking though....

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JMEPAYNE 11/1/2010 1:59PM

    ROCK ON!!!

i looooooove NSV! to be, they are better than seeing the number on the scale go down.

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KSGROTHE 11/1/2010 1:36PM

    emoticon on reaching 80 lbs lost, improving your V02 score, and having all those non-scale victories! You're doing great!

Keep up the good work! emoticon

- Karen

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LKEITHO 11/1/2010 1:19PM

    Congratulations on hitting the 80 pounds lost mark! WTG!

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JENJESS48 11/1/2010 1:12PM

    You are totally emoticon! Keeping track of a month like this is a fantastic idea and obviously very motivating. I particularly like the non-scale victories; those are always way more motivational for me. Kudos for keeping track of your compliments! It's a great idea.

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TEDDYBEARGIRL 11/1/2010 1:09PM


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KITHKINCAID 11/1/2010 1:03PM

    I'm so glad you had a fun Halloween! You look great!

And I also love reading all your NSVs every month. I should really start keeping track like that so that I can look back on my month and really know what a difference being here is making in my life outside of the number game.

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MOMFAN 11/1/2010 12:58PM


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JESSIELOVE78 11/1/2010 12:16PM


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CM_GARDNER78 11/1/2010 11:32AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

FANTASTIC!! I give you an A+!! You are doing awesome!! Keep it up!!

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SMALLERMELORIE 11/1/2010 11:17AM

    Lookin' Good Sweetie. You have done so well, keep up the GREAT WORK Sunny Gal!

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    you are amazing!

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