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Looking Forward to Running

Friday, August 31, 2012

Had my usual Friday dinner with daughter at Taco Bell. The conversation focused on her pending move to a smaller (and more affordable) apartment, and the 10K we registered for on Thanksgiving Day. She's trying to train, and currently maxes out at running for 30 seconds. She thinks she could walk a 10K, it would take her about 2 hours, and she might not be able to walk very well the next day.

I see no reason to doubt her self-assessment. For now, she's trying to build up to being able to run for a minute at a time, in preparation for starting the 5K Your Way beginner's program. I think she has correctly identified motivation as her biggest challenge; I'm doing what I can to encourage her.

For my part, I'm pretty sure I could walk 10K. The open question is whether I'll be able to run 10K by Thanksgiving, or whether my attempts to train up to that flame out and result in my not being able to walk that far. Time will tell.

As of this evening, my bad foot is still less than 100%. But it isn't keeping me from walking, and yesterday's walk-run intervals didn't make it obviously worse. So another set of walk-run intervals is on the agenda for tomorrow. I'll have to think about how long I want to go, and whether I want to shift from walk 4, run 1 to walk 3, run 1. For sure I don't want the running interval to be longer than one minute right now. Caution is the current watchword.

It will be hard to stay cautious. I'm really looking forward to running regularly again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NWFL59 8/31/2012 11:36PM

    Well done on utilizing caution on getting back into longer runs during your intervals. emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 8/31/2012 9:53PM

    It's great that you are working with your daughter to get her into fitness; and exercising reasonable caution yourself!

Nice memories.

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/31/2012 9:27PM

    One day at a time. One workout at a time. Slower is better than faster at this point in training. You CAN exhibit self-control... I've seen you do it!

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Walk/Run Intervals

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Today was a work at home day. On my lunch hour, I decided to try some easy walk/run intervals. That's how the 5K Your Way program structures things for beginners, and that program worked out okay for me last year.

I decided I didn't want to start with running more than one minute at a time. After thinking about how far I wanted to go and how much time I had, I settled on trying a walk 4 minutes, run 1 minute regime. I planned to go a measured 5K route. My thinking was, walking would take me 42 to 47 minutes on this route, and running one minute out of 5 should trim 6 to 8 minutes off the total. I haven't walked a 5K in under 44 minutes since the foot injury was aggravated, so call it maybe 38 or 39 minutes.

A year ago, I was doing wak/run intervals by looking at my watch. If I didn't look back at the right time, I'd miss when to switch gears. This year, I have an iPod touch. My daughter recommeded the RunKeeper app for its "coaching" function. Played a bit; the options are slow, steady, or fast. Set up a program of 4 minutes slow, 1 minute steady and set out.

The first 3 cycles went well. I got an audio cue to switch between walking and running, right on schedule. Unlike a year ago, I wasn't wondering how much of my minute is left; I was using the cue to stop when I should, before I run too far. The app also announces time and average pace every mile; but that's bogus because the GPS on the iPod sucks.

I think the app crashed right at 15 minutes. In any case, the next period of running wasn't cued on time. I restarted the app, and it immediately cued a run; I started running. I think I ran two minutes that time; the app had paused. I'm learning some lessons about iPod management for this stuff. Next time I'll pay a little more attention to the hardware, and also more attention to my watch as a backup. I lost a few minutes of the app being non-operational, but once I figured that out it worked properly for the end of the route.

Finished the 5K at about 35 minutes. That's "about" because the app had paused and I didn't get a precise reading on my watch when I started, but it's a close "about" because I did get a watch reading at the first few cycle changes. I was amused that SP offered me walking 6 minutes per kilometer, but not 7 minutes per kilometer. When I entered the exercise from the map, it insisted I was running. Well . . . not really. I was probably walking faster than I would have with a pure walk today, but I wasn't running most of the way. Average pace of around 11:15 per mile is faster than I can walk, but much slower than I run. This is as it should be.

Got some stretching done, on general principal. I don't stretch after walking, and didn't really feel a need to stretch today, but I thought it was important to establish the habit. The idea is that these walk/run intervals will eventually turn into real runs, and if I start the post-"run" stretching now, the real need for stretching won't surprise me with an injury.

The foot felt as good after the intervals as it did before. I'll pay attention to how it feels tomorrow and Saturday. If all goes well, I'll do some more walk 4, run 1 intervals on Saturday.

The lesson from 5K Your Way is, train 3 days a week. Keep the same interval pattern for a week before expanding the running time. That worked well for me a year ago; I'll try it as a disciplined plan to rehab this year.

For nostalgia's sake, I looked back at my blog from a year ago today. I was on Week Zero of the 5K Your Way program then. I was not a runner, though I was running 2 minute intervals. Now, I perhaps am not a runner again; but I have been a runner, and I'm confident that I will be a runner again.

I might even be able to run a 10K by Thanksgiving Day. Just have to see how the rehab goes.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SMILINGTREE 8/31/2012 11:28AM

    You might want to try out the Nike+ chip with your ipod. I really liked using it, when I had it (my battery died, then I lost the chip). Anyway, you can get a thing that attaches the chip to your shoestring, so you don't have to buy the special Nike shoes. It also has a piece that plugs into your iPod. You can upload your workouts to Nike if you want, and it stores your history on the iPod. It works a lot like RunKeeper, but you don't need the GPS and it won't crash.

Good luck with your running recovery. It sounds like you are off to a good start.

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MSLZZY 8/31/2012 10:33AM

    You are starting at the right point for you and
using a slow progression. In theory, that should
help you get back to running without injury.
Good luck!

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KRISZTA11 8/31/2012 5:02AM

    Your plan sounds good: safe but still motivational.
It is amazing you made 5K in about 35 minutes while walking 80% of the time...
I'm glad it went so well!

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/30/2012 8:55PM

    emoticon Good luck on your second 5K your way! Come Thanksgiving, we shall have tales to swap!

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The Bad Foot: Time to try again?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Long term readers of my blogs will remember that I have a foot injury that keeps me from running. I got it at the beginning of February, took most of February and March off, and then got back to running. Mid-June, I did too much too hard and aggravated the foot.

Since then, I've been very cautious about coming back. I want that foot to heal properly.

But . . . how much is enough? Right now, the foot is probably better than it was when I was running in April and May. It's not 100%, and I'm intimidated by the prospect of making it worse. So, what can I do?

I can walk reasonably briskly. In mid-February, I couldn't do that.

I can run short distances, such as to make it across a street before the light changes.

Some days, I can run a few laps up and down my hallway lightly. Other days, the foot reminds me that it is injured. This doesn't keep me from doing things, but it warns me of potential re-injury.

Ten days ago, I walked 5.2 miles briskly. That was a poor choice. The length of the walk wasn't that bad a choice, but a course that didn't have an opportunity for me to bail at about 4 miles was a poor choice. By four and a half miles, my foot was feeling it. I lost the ability to run laps up and down my hall for most of last week. But the foot got better, during a week when I got over 10K steps each and every day. I ran a few light laps up and down my hallway yesterday morning and this morning.

I have a 10K on Thanksgiving Day, and I expect I'll be able to walk it if I don't aggravate the foot. I *might* be able to run it, *if* I can figure out how to ease into training.

So . . . this evening I ran about a tenth of a mile. Practically nothing, but it didn't feel bad. Tomorrow morning I'll pay attention to whether the foot is complaining. If it doesn't, maybe on Thursday I'll try some walking with short running intervals.

I just hope I don't find out how much is too much the hard way again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Your foot will let you know when it has had enough. I would gradually increase the distance.

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KRISZTA11 8/29/2012 1:56PM

    Walking with running intervals sound a great idea.
I have a feeling that running a bit slower during the adaptation could also help, because you usually run very fast and that may require more from your foot arches than a slower pace.
Another thing is the surface: something softer than asphalt could be beneficial, like gravel or packed dirt.
Good luck & stay safe!

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ARCHIMEDESII 8/29/2012 1:39PM

    Do you do any cycling ? To take some pressure off that foot, try alternating your brisk walk days with a ride your bike day. If you don't ride a bike, how about swimming ? That's another great cardiovascular exercise that will take stress off that foot.

I know you want to keep doing vigorous exercise to stay in shape. but you may have to lay off the brisk walks for a few weeks to allow your foot a chance to heal so that it is ready for that Thanksgiving day run.

At least, try doing a brisk walk one day followed by something different the next day. cross training might help.

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KAYOTIC 8/29/2012 10:07AM

    I can sympathize, having my own foot issues that are finally starting to get better....time can help, and it's really hard to stay off the foot to let it heal!

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MSLZZY 8/29/2012 9:54AM

    How can you know how much is too much? I do
not envy you in this regard. Just do the best you
can and take care of that foot. Wish I had sound
advice but short on that today.

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PLMITCH 8/29/2012 9:03AM

    I know what you are going through. It has been an agonizingly long trail back from my Achilles tendonitis ( well long for me - I have the patience of a fruit fly!), so holding myself back has been a challenge. Thankfully I was able to swim when I could not run at all.

Yesterday I was able to do 3 miles in under 40 minutes (38:10 to be exact), and the one thing I am seeing is really making an effort to stay throttled down early on. I did the first mile in 14 minutes and ran maybe 50% of it. Miles 2 and 3 much moire running and felt VERY energized at the end! In the two 5K race I have done, I clearly overdid it on the first mile, especially the last race where I ran like a 9:30 mile and not only had NOTHING left in the tank at the end, but very likely injured the Achilles tendon in that first mile by overdoing it!

My next 5K is 09/22, and while I want very much to meet/exceed my personal best of 32:10, I am going to be much more conscience of how I go out in that first mile.

Oh yeah, and I LOVE my Brooks running shoes!

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/28/2012 10:00PM

    Listen to your body. Intervals. Walk breaks. Every read Jeff Galloway's stuff? About training injury free?

I'm doing intervals, even in races. It makes it possible, for me, for now... and I'm running faster than I used to. Good luck!

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 8/28/2012 9:17PM

    Good luck in your venturing forward. I think that .1 of a mile is a good and prudent start. But please be cautious.

I LOVE your Spark Name so much!

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ILOVETOCRUISE 8/28/2012 8:54PM

    Listen to your body, in this case your foot. Good luck on your goal.

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Health and Fitness News

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Depending on when I'm driving to work, I might hear a segment on the radio from the local "health and fitness reporter." Since joining SparkPeople, I've listened more to what she has to say. A typical segment briefly describes a current health news headline, which might also appear on the SP health news feed. Then she discusses what it means, and has some light banter with the morning radio guy. This is fairly standard infotainment fare.

The other day, she covered an interesting headline. Apparently there was a study done, and in this study overweight people who exercised for 30 minutes a day lost 8 lbs. over three months. People who exercised for 60 minutes a day lost 6 lbs. over three months.

The fitness reporter explained that the study only looked at exercise, and that no requirements were set on diet. She hypothesized that people who are new to exercise and do more will work up more of an appetite, and they probably ate more. All this makes sense to me; but of course the headlines will scream, "Don't exercise as much! It does more harm than good!"

The interesting thing is, on the way home from work that same day the radio news mentioned this study again. This time, there was no health and fitness reporter explaining things. The sound track was that more exercise isn't as good as less exercise.

Google is my friend. I found a link to a news article reporting on this study:

One thing that jumps out at me from the link is, the study was done with previously sedentary men. I remember the "previously sedentary" part from the morning radio spot, but the male-only wasn't mentioned, or I didn't catch it if it was.

I don't want to belabor the shortcomings of the reporting on this particular study. For one thing, I don't particularly want to go beyond the news and work hard enough to understand the underlying study. But I am going to ramble a bit about health news reporting in general.

The job of news reporting is to sell advertising. In order to do this, there must be readers or listeners. To that end, things that are new and different are reported, and these things are spun to pique the interest of as many people as possible. So we end up with health news headlines that sound like firm conclusions from scientific studies that mostly only produced interesting clues and pointers for further research.

This social phenomenon results in headlines that we can cherry-pick to suit our own preferences. Coffee is good for you. Coffee is bad for you. People who drink red wine in moderation are healthier than people who don't drink at all. Red meat is associated with heart disease. Lean red meat is important to get enough iron. If you pay attention over time, you can find contradictions in the headlines in less than a month.

The contradictions aren't because research is producing contradictory results, or at least they aren't most of the time. The contradictions are because very small phenomena are being blown out of proportion in the headlines. Most of us understand this intellectually; but it's still hard not to pay attention to those headlines. It's on the news, it should be true, right? Well, maybe kinda sorta if you pay attention to the fine print that might not have made it into the sound bite.

And that brings me around to a minor annoyance I have with SparkPeople articles. Among other things, SparkPeople is a news aggregator. Many of the SparkPeople articles are like the health and fitness reporter's spots on the radio. They pick up the current health news, give a little analysis, and move on to the next topic. So we get some inconsistency in the SparkPeople message.

Where SP is on message, it's very good. The material presents a mainstream point of view advocating a balanced diet, drinking lots of water, getting a reasonable amount of exercise, getting enough sleep, and paying attention to motivation. That formula has worked well for me.

Where SP is not on message, it passes through a lot of mainstream media health news and attitudes. That's where we get article titles like "Butt-Blasting Workout" and food comparisons that implicitly assume that more fat is always bad while ignoring the relative amounts of protein in the food being compared. I need to view that kind of stuff the way I view the health and fitness news. It's not news, the sound bites are not accurate, and it's so superficial I need to ignore it.

On the whole, I really like the SP site. I need the nutrition tracker. The fitness tracker works for me as a motivational tool. And the community is awesome.

Putting up with health and fitness news that's no better than the mainstream media is a small price to pay for the good parts of SP.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NWFL59 8/26/2012 11:49AM

    Data filtering is just part of our daily lives. Sometimes we do the analysis of it veracity of the data, sometimes we just enjoy the entertainment value and other times it just so much white noise filling in the background. emoticon

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GREENGENES 8/26/2012 10:59AM

    Excellent points. As a scientist, it is very frustrating to see how research is presented in the news. PR departments put out press releases over the most trivial things and suddenly a study gets blown out of proportion. I'm really torn over this. Scientists need to do a better job of promoting all the great research that is out there so we can encourage more kids to go into STEM fields. However, a lot of the good research is just a small piece of the big puzzle so the general public does a lot of filling in the blanks - often inaccurately.

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MRS.CARLY 8/26/2012 10:09AM

    Interesting information on the radio! There is a lot of misinformation out there for sure. I get most of my information about health and especially exercise from the Oxygen and Muscle and fitness Hers magazines. I am also a big fan of Tosca Renos clean eating books.

I think the main message needs to be that folks need to be going more towards clean eating and less processed foods. I wish they would do more studies and talk about THAT! How it not only results in weight loss but can help with the fight against cancer and health related illnesses/disesases!

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MSLZZY 8/26/2012 8:51AM

    Read between the lines and don't believe everything
you read.

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RG_DFW 8/26/2012 7:08AM

    just goes to show that all news is presented with the art of 'spin'

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ARCHIMEDESII 8/26/2012 6:57AM

    As bad as the media can be when it comes to cherry picking news items, I put a lot of the blame on the actual STUDIES. It comes down to the old "publish or perish" rule. If you're a researcher trying to conduct a study, you're under pressure to show results. No results, no funding.

Because of that pressure, I feel too many researchers are rushing studies or misinterpreting the data from those studies to shoe results that might not be there. I've learned enough about statistics to know a little something about sampling errors. That's why I always read the new health headlines with a grain of salt. Data is too easily manipulated.

The problem is that, on average, most Americans really don't understand the basics of good nutrition and exercise. If people were better educated, they'd be substantially less confusion. The other problem ? There are plenty of people who are looking for that quick fix. They want to know what's the fastest way they can lose weight.

The fact is, telling someone that losing weight is a slow steady process that takes time doesn't boost ratings.

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KRISZTA11 8/26/2012 4:03AM

    This is an ugly side effect of having so many news channels and journals...
They have to survive so they fight for our attention.
"More exercise makes you lose less weight" catches more attention than hearing the details or hearing "more exercise makes you lose more weight".
And these are (should be) solid facts, politics and tabloids are even worse.
I cannot blame the reporters who try to earn their living, but I stopped listening to radio or TV years ago.
DH finds this entertaining and still consumes "news" so I still get my fair share of nonsense.

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 8/25/2012 11:50PM

    I like to listen to podcasts in the car about fitness. But the ones I listen to are not news aggregators but rather people working in the industry as personal trainers, physical therapists and dietitians.

So at least what I'm listening to is a bit less frenetic about misrepresenting research in order to sell ads, even if they do spend a lot of time splitting hairs about the relative benefits of whole-body workouts versus splits, or single-leg Bulgarian squats vs front squats vs overhead squats vs back squats. LOL

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GONE-BIKING 8/25/2012 9:14PM

    I agree that the health and fitness "news" has become annoying. It drives me crazy that I can read one thing in my Fitness magazine one month only to read a contradictory report the following month. I was so annoyed for a while that I contemplated cancelling my subscription, but getting it every month keeps me focused on staying active, so instead I just started looking at things with the understanding that they often don't know what the heck they're talking about.

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Friday Grocery List

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Friday evening. In my current routine, this is the day I take my daughter to Taco Bell while her last load of laundry is in my drier. Today, I stopped at Aldi on the way back to pick up a few things: A honeydew melon, strawberries, onions, cottage cheese, eggs, bagged salad, tuna, and baby carrots. Pre-spark, I might have bought eggs, cottage cheese (only when I planned to put it in spaghetti sauce, and the full-fat variety then) and tuna (four cans would last me several months). The rest . . . baby carrots maybe once in a while. The other stuff, never.

Now, this is all stuff I'm buying because I was running out of it. To be fair, the onions and the melon are new additions to what I buy, but this isn't a first-time purchase on any of this stuff.

Daughter is slower to change to healthy ways, but she did ask if I could give her an orange peeler. It seems she bought some grapefruit by mistake, and she's going to be eating them. A knife at her apartment didn't work as well as an orange peeler did at my house for oranges.

In the back of my mind, the trip to Aldi on the way back from Taco Bell is a timing issue. Part of it is giving daughter a good example, even if that example is a couple decades later than I should have started. The other part, of course, is that it's on the way and it's when I have time to get this done.

Daughter finished her laundry and went on her way. I got to my evening snack, and had to add calories to make my minimums. I would have been fine right now shorting myself a couple hundred calories, but I'm not an intuitive eater. I need to identify a proper range, and eat to that range.

This has been happening more than once a week lately. Get to the late evening, and have to eat more to make minimums. Since I'm not back to running yet, it can give me a twinge of anxiety; but the scale trend is sideways, so I'm not changing the nutrition range. And in the grand scheme of things, it's a heck of a lot easier to deal with finding another 200 calories to eat than to deal with being done for the day and still wanting to eat more!

As I think about it, the trend in grocery shopping and the trend in eating to the calorie range are probably linked. Adding peppers and onions to my salad doesn't add a lot of calories, but makes the salad more satisfying. And having 100 to 150 grams of melon instead of an orange is fewer calories, but satisfies that craving for something sweet at the end of breakfast. There's likely similar stuff going on that I'm not noticing, but those two spring to mind.

In this respect, I'm doing things a little backwards. I got to goal weight before I started eating this healthy. (Not that Taco Bell is all *that* healthy, but the rest of the day looks pretty good.) And it had to be a gradual transition, as I ate to the nutrition ranges and tried one thing at a time to see if I liked it and could fit it into the plan.

It's still an evolving process, but I'm seeing some similarity between exercise and healthy eating. Both required me to start with little stuff, incorporate that into my lifestyle, and build incrementally.

Before SparkPeople, I never would have though of eating healthy or eating clean as something that could be accomplished by a gradual transition. Now, I see that this is the only way I could accomplish that. I'm still not eating like a true clean eating fanatic, and maybe I never will; but unlike my pre-Spark self, I now could survive a week of being fed by a clean eating fanatic.

At least, I could survive it as long as I could make it fit into my ranges for calories, carbs, fat, and protein. And I'd probably run out to Taco Bell as soon as possible after that hypothetical week . . . and buy groceries on the way back from Taco Bell, with a list that might resemble today's list.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GREENGENES 8/25/2012 11:41AM

    Great shopping list and nice example for your daughter. Trying to do similar things for junior. I loved Aldi when we lived in Germany and was so happy to see we had one in our town when we moved here. Keep up the great work.

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RG_DFW 8/25/2012 8:16AM

    it doesn't matter if we get there through the front door or side, as long as we get there

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/25/2012 6:19AM

    People are different... and the same. When I first started losing weight back in 1989, with WW, I was a fanatic about weighing, measuring and keeping track. I needed a static road map... but eventually, even in that time frame, the desire to try new things, especially in terms of produce, kicked in. I even tried (shudder) asparagus... something I had NEVER considered food. It will still never be the treat for me that it is for our sister!

My ex used to say in terms of development and learning, we are in different rooms in a house at different times, moving among them... learning different lessons in different orders. It's not a bad concept to work with.

Spark on! emoticon

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KRISZTA11 8/25/2012 2:25AM

    I enjoyed your blog!
The way you made many small steps that lead to a great exercise routine and healthy eating reminds me of The Spark.
When I read the book I was surprised by the idea of criss crossing effect, that exercising makes one want to eat healthier food and vice versa. It sounded too good to be true! But it seems to be working.

I'm not an intuitive eater either. Whenever I try to be, things go wrong...
I can go on for several weeks without tracking my food, but I do that based on the mental image of the portions I eat when I tracked food.

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HOT4FITNESS 8/24/2012 10:33PM

    These spark journeys are wonderful. Oh the things we learn on the way. You deserve a pat on the back for a job well done on the nutritional goals and the changes that have happened along the way.

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HEALTHIERKEN 8/24/2012 10:13PM

    Very perceptive, as always : )

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MARYJEANSL 8/24/2012 9:55PM

  I like the way you think - I feel the same way most of the time, although I am still a long way from any goal. Enjoyed your blog!

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