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Friday, March 26, 2010

Ok you guys, this is HUGE NEWS!

You know how I've always dreamed about becoming a writer? Well, I am HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE that I JUST FINISHED WRITING my very first NOVEL! I can't believe I actually did it - I can't remember how many times I've started working on a text only to give up after a few weeks of months. But not this time! I actually wrote a 250-page novel which I just sent to a publisher here in Finland! I can't even begin to describe how good I feel about myself right now! I CAN DO ANYTHING I set my mind to, I know that now!

And on top of that, I just found out a few days ago that one of my short stories will be published as a part of a new short story collection coming out in June!! I feel like my childhood dream is finally coming true. I've been putting it off for way too long and I'm just so glad that I had the strength to believe in my dreams and follow my heart no matter what.

I just wanted to share this with you because you've all been so supportive and encouraging when things have been difficult for me. Thank you. You are a big part of the reason I was strong enough to finally do this! It's not just a distant dream anymore. I feel like I can actually make it happen. Nothing will stop me now!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GONABFIT 9/6/2010 9:44PM

    good job

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CHUNKLEEN 4/7/2010 6:22AM

    emoticon GREAT JOB! Congrats!

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CABEZATORO 3/30/2010 12:28PM

    That's great news. Congratulations. What's the novel about?

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ZANNACHAN 3/26/2010 1:24PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

That's fantastic!!!! I'm so happy for you!

Congrats on finishing your novel--that's a major accomplishment! And congrats on getting your story published--that's too cool! Best of luck on the publisher. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you!

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MEGANC1988 3/26/2010 12:27PM


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DAWNO64 3/26/2010 11:07AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

That's fantastic!

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MAGPIE17 3/26/2010 10:02AM

    That's awesome!! Congrats on getting your short story published, and good luck with publishers with your novel!

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IUHRYTR 3/26/2010 9:24AM

    So happy for you. emoticon emoticon emoticon -- Lou

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JOKNOWS 3/26/2010 9:18AM

    Saw your blog on the Love To Travel Team Page and just wanted to drop in and say emoticon and emoticon. Yay you!

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NANCYRUBIO 3/26/2010 9:18AM

    Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your dream. Keep it up. It is most important that you berlieve in yourself, than others will bellieve n you. emoticon

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Cravings - HELP NEEDED.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sometimes it's very hard to stay focused on the future and fight off the cravings when they occur.

It all started this weekend. I did really well last week - I ate healthy, worked out and felt amazing and confident. I was making small adjustments and enjoyed every minute of it. It was all going smoothly.

Then the weekend came. I knew it meant challenges, lots of challenges. Weekends are always very problematic for me (as they are for many, I'm sure). On one hand, I feel like I really want to indulge and enjoy some of my favorite treats (after all, it's weekend, time to unwind and relax). THE THING IS, though, that I don't feel relaxed on Sunday evening when the weekend is over. Instead, I feel guilty. I had too many pieces of chocolate, too many slices of pizza or skipped a workout I really didn't want to skip. My energy level has gone down instead of up. I feel cranky, bloated, guilty and like a big fat failure.

And the thing is, even though I didn't eat THAT MUCH last weekend, I find it EXTREMELY difficult to get back on the right track when the weekend is over. It's like once I start, I can't control myself. It's like an addiction. Now I'm getting cravings constantly. I tracked every single craving I got today. Guess how long my list was? I was shocked to realize that I craved unhealthy foods 23 times today (that I recognized well enough to track). And they are so persistent, too. They just don't seem to go away until I give in - and that only makes it worse. I know some people say that when you get a craving for chocolate, have carrot sticks or a few pieces of fruit instead and it'll pass. Doesn't work for me. I literally obsess about the foods that I crave and can't stop thinking about them no matter what I do. I try to keep myself busy, I go for a long walk, I write, I read, I have a granola bar or some yogurt instead. Nothing seems to help.

I'm now starting to wonder if I really have an addiction. I always say I enjoy my favorite treats in moderation and include them in my diet as a part of my permanent, healthy lifestyle. Ideally, that would be the case. In reality, though, things don't go that way. I try and I try, but I just can't seem to stop eating once I start. I feel like there is no point in eating one small chocolate bar - I NEED A WHOLE BAG OF THEM. It's crazy!

So I guess the question now is whether or not to keep eating these foods that send me off balance for days, weeks or even months. Having one slice of pizza leads to ice cream and that leads to chocolate and before I know it, I have eaten a week's worth of calories in a few days. I WANT TO STOP! I know this is why my weight loss is so slow - I do well during the week, but the weekends are my big downfall. It's like adding fuel to the fire. I don't know what to do.

When I didn't eat any candy (not even chocolate) for three weeks in December, I eventually stopped craving it. I felt more balanced than ever before in my life. It wasn't even that hard. The question is: should I stay away from the foods that make me over eat or should I try and include them in my diet? I know that restricting can lead to binging so I'm a little cautious about black-and-white solutions here. Maybe I should try and find some middle ground. No chocolate or pizza more than once a month? I'd really appreciate some words of wisdom from you guys.

I am so sick of eating when I'm not hungry.

I am so sick of being controlled by food.


I just want to find a way to live a balanced, healthy, and satisfying life. I AM SURE there is a way to do that. I'm not giving up.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 3/16/2010 10:01PM

    I still give in to cravings from time to time to remain somewhat sane but several nurses and SP articles have all said that sugar begats a craving for sugar that begats a craving....It sounds as if your weekend rituals are vastly different from those during the week. Perhaps it's time to ask why and see what can be changed to reduce the temptations on the weekends. Let us know how you do. -- Lou

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MAGPIE17 3/16/2010 4:18PM

    I found the first thing I had to do was get all of the crappy food out of my house. Then, if I want something, I have to weigh that want against having to go out and buy it. Often, it's enough to make the craving pass. Now, when I really crave something that I shouldn't have, I don't gratify it right away - for instance, a month ago I was SERIOUSLY jonesing for a piece of cheesecake. I waited TWO WEEKS and then went out and had a nice slice. I don't normally wait that long, but try to wait for a day or two.

Another thing I do is bring a small portion of that thing that I crave with me to work (e.g. a Hershey's Kiss) - then, when I crave chocolate, I can have one little kiss (less than 30 calories)...and if I'm still craving it, tough. I gave myself a taste!

This is definitely a challenge. Today, though, I found an article in the Healthy Lifestyle section under "Wellness" on keeping on-track on the had some interesting ideas, you should check it out!



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ZANNACHAN 3/16/2010 3:46PM

    Cravings are definitely something I struggle with, especially on weekends when I don't have my "routine" to help me stay focused. For the last two weeks, I've been really craving sweets--not really any specific sweets, just sweets in general. Sometimes it's cookies, or chocolate, or hard candy, or soft drinks--whatever it is, it's sweet. There have been times when I crave salty foods, like pretzels or potato chips.

When I blogged about struggling with my cravings awhile ago, one of my spark friends assured me that eventually, through healthy eating, the cravings do go away or at least get easier to deal with. But it takes a long time to reach that point--even longer than I have been on this healthy road. So I have hope that, eventually, I won't be struggling so much with the cravings, that instead my taste buds will yearn for healthier foods, like fresh fruit.

In the meantime, I don't know if I have any advice that will help. I tend to keep snacks on hand, which is something that a lot of sparkers don't do, because I don't eat sweets or chips all the time just because I have them, but I like to have the option available.

I suspect it's a hold over tendency from the days when I was struggling a lot more with blood sugar crashes. Even now, I snack pretty much every afternoon--but now I try to make sure I have healthy snack options available as well, and budget those calories into my over all meal plan. So yeah, a lot of days when I find myself thinking, "I want chocolate" I get out something healthier, like trail mix, and munch on that, and it helps because what I really needed was something to eat.

I find that sometimes healthier versions of what I'm craving appease my cravings. For example, I have these wonderful almonds that are covered in cocoa powder. While almonds have a lot of calories, so I still have to watch how many I eat, they have fiber and protein and calcium and are really healthy so long as eaten in moderation. The cocoa powder gives them that the nuts-and-chocolate flavor I love, but at a fraction of the calories. Or, I have a trail mix that has a blend of dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate chips--it's a great blend of sweet, chocolate and a little salt without being loaded in either salt or sugar. Because it has nuts, it's still fairly high in calories and needs to be eaten in moderation, but it's also pretty filling and I find that one serving does pretty well as an afternoon snack without breaking my calorie budget. Or if it's the crunch of chips that I crave, I might slice up some crunchy vegetables instead, like jicama (one of my favorite foods ever) or green pepper or more rarely carrots (because of my husband's extreme carrot allergy, carrots are a luxury for me). When it's sweets I crave, I often turn to fruit.

When I do get into chocolate or chips, I try to serve myself a measured amount--about one serving, ideally though not always. And I eat that, and then I drink water to wash that lingering, tempting flavor out of my mouth, and then I try to stop. If I'm still hungry, I eat something healthy. Most of the time, I've satisfied my craving and can focus on other things that aren't food related. I find that clearing the palate really helps, though, because so long as I can taste whatever food I was craving (chocolate, or whatever) I want more, and I end up eating until I'm stuffed with some really high calorie food.

It doesn't work 100% of the time, but it works more often than not, at least for me, and I figure as long as I'm on target most of the time, I'm doing well.

Comment edited on: 3/16/2010 3:52:05 PM

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KWENBEE 3/16/2010 3:29PM

    I am one of those who finds weekends to be the most difficult time to stick with this. I refuse to eliminate things completely from my menu because I know what will happen to me when I reach my goal....I will go right back to my old habits, eating LOTS of things that are bad for me.

My solution (one I didn't follow this weekend) is to plan ahead. If I know I have an event or something going on for the weekend, I incorporate whatever "bad" food that will be there into my day...eating lighter through the day so I can have a few extra calories at night. I also MAKE myself only have one or two servings of those things that are "bad". If having a bag of small chocolate bars around triggers you to eat the entire bag...don't buy the snack bags. Buy yourself one, VERY expensive chocolate bar and eat it...very slowly to get the craving out of the way...guaranteed that if you spend $6 for a candy bar, you will savor it more than a 3/$1 one!

I do not believe in trigger foods. I just don't. I think a lot of it is mind over matter...I swear that weight loss is as much mental as it is physical! It's hard and yes, I still go overboard on weekends sometimes and then kick myself, but if I am "good" 80-90% of the time and the scale is moving down, I refuse to beat myself up!

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Measuring Success

Monday, March 08, 2010

I know I've blogged about this topic before, but it never gets old. On the comments left on my previous entry, some of you suggested taking measurements to see if I'm making progress even though the scale is stuck at that same number. And I am proud to say that I have started taking measurements on my waist, hips, upper arm, thighs and neck a couple of months ago! I always wanted to start tracking my progress that way and I honestly don't know what took me this long to get started. I'm only taking the measurements once or twice a month because otherwise it would be difficult to see if you're making progress. I'm so excited about taking my March measurements at the end of the month. I really hope to have lost a few inches by then!

And there's another thing I wanted to write about: the scale. It's such a powerful object if you let it. I used to only weigh myself a couple of times a month, but once I bought my own bathroom scale, I started hopping on it almost every morning. And it can be such a depressing, unreliable indicator of success, too! Your body weight can fluctuate for no obvious reason and it doesn't necessarily mean that you have gained weight! It's sad that sometimes when I have been feeling really good about myself, I step on the scale only to see that the numbers haven't gone down or worse: that they have actually gone up. It can ruin a girl's day, I tell you that!! And it shouldn't be like that. I don't know whether to ditch the scale altogether and focus on taking measurements and before/during pictures once a month (and comparing them to the previous pictures). After all, the best way to measure success is how you LOOK and how you FEEL, the number is just a number and the number ITSELF does not matter at all. I'm hoping that one day when I look in the mirror, I'll just know I'm there. I know one day I'll feel comfortable in my own skin, and fit into my clothes better and feel more confident and much stronger - and that is my ULTIMATE GOAL, not a number on the scale.

What do you guys think? How often do you weigh yourself? Do you also take measurements? Do we REALLY need the scale anyway?



  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARCYNA 3/11/2010 2:57PM

    I've stopped using the scale,at the moment I just don't care.
My clothes fit better, my skin's awesome, and my digestion is working perfectly while it was always in trouble before.
I just want a bikini - but I'm sure it'll come in its own season emoticon emoticon

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ZANNACHAN 3/8/2010 11:07PM

    When I first mentioned the possibility of whether losing weight would help my bad hip, my doctor agreed that at least it couldn't hurt and suggested that I weigh myself every day and chart it because I'm competitive by nature and that would motivate me.

Only it didn't work out that way at all. Even if I consistently weighed myself first thing in the morning (which I often don't remember to do), my weight could fluctuate as much as 2 lbs in one day! Even more annoying, since I was using the Wii Fit as my scale, it always seemed to respond with essentially "What awful things have you done that caused you to put on weight?" (Though I don't remember it saying the flip side when I *lost* 2 lbs over night--no whoo hoo you are full of awesomeness! Just a note that you are moving closer to your goal. I knew that I couldn't possibly have put on 2 lbs of fat over night--it had to be shifts in things like water retention and the like--but it was really hard to see what, if any, progress that I was making.

Shortly after I came to sparks, I read an article about taking other forms of measurement, and I decided that I was going to only weigh myself every 2 weeks (roughly, sometimes I forget, but it's no big deal if I'm off a bit) first thing in the morning. At the same time, I use a tape measure and measure neck, bust, chest, waist, hip, thighs, calves, and upper and lower arms. And I record these measures in a little book.

I also keep a separate journal where I record my fitness programs and how I feel--days I skip, days I worked out but felt terrible, days that went great, and the concrete numbers--how many pounds, how many minutes, what intensity and what distance and so forth. And I can see gradual but real progress, there, too--meaningful progress because it means I'm getting fitter, not just lighter and thinner.

It only takes a little extra time to jot the numbers down, but it lets me see not only my biweekly progress, but easily glance back and see the over all trend. And I decided that because weight fluctuates so much anyway, I wasn't going to worry (though it can be discouraging) about any weight gain under 5 lbs... and I wasn't going to get too excited (though it's encouraging) about any weight loss under 5 lbs.

I think you are smart to recognize that the scale is, at best, an imperfect tool, and I worry that I (as well as other people) put too much stock in it. The real measures are things like how I feel, if my cholesterol and blood pressure are good, my real-world strength and endurance, and how I look and feel about myself. It would be so easy to get fixated on hitting a magic number--say 125 lbs--and lose sight of what really matters.

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MAGPIE17 3/8/2010 5:46PM

    When I started losing weight, I used to step on the scale almost every day...and that number definitely dictated the rest of my day. Since joining SP, I've managed to switch to Tuesdays and Saturdays, and I don't let the number affect me more than guiding my eating and exercise a little (i.e., if the number's gone up a little, I'm a little more careful between that weigh-in and the next). Don't let it dictate your day, and your good...if it's going to have a huge effect on you, don't weigh in more often than once every week or two.



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Plateaus and Plans

Sunday, March 07, 2010

I've been stuck at this same weight for such a long time now that it's getting ridiculous. I might gain a few pounds and those I can lose pretty quickly, but when I hit 75 kilograms it's like hitting a brick wall. It's so frustrating when you're doing everything right and working really hard and yet the scale is not moving. I know that I WILL EVENTUALLY start losing weight again, but I'd really appreciate it if that would happen somewhere in the near future.

So I have made a plan to bust right through this plateau and start losing weight again! My goal is to make that happen in March so that I can finally start shedding those pounds again! I AM SO READY for that to happen, trust me.

So here's my Plateau-busting plan for March:

- Lots of cardio: I'll do different varieties of cardio exercises every day - I'll go jogging one day, go nordic walking the next, I'll go swimming a couple of times a week, I'll do yoga and pilates, I'll ski or dance or hit the gym! You get the idea! I'll do lots of different types of cardio in varying levels of intensity and duration. That should shake things up a little!

- Firming it up: I'll focus on different muscle group every day. On Monday, it's time for the upper body, on Wednesday I'll focus on core exercises, on Thursday it's time for lower body and so on (except for Sundays, my day off). I'll try to do at least 20 minutes of my favorite exercises every day, that way it won't get boring and I still get all the benefits of regular exercise!

- Nutrition & sleep: Naturally, nutrition plays a huge part. To shake things up and get my body to finally respond in the way I want it to, I'll have to try some new things that will hopefully help in getting those numbers on the scale go down again. I'll add more lean, low-fat protein and reduce the amount of simple carbs (white bread, pasta, candy etc.). I'll also try and get at least 4-6 servings of fruit and veggies every day. I'll keep drinking lots of water and really do my best to stay away from sugary, fatty, salty treats that are just no good for me.

I am so ready to move on and start seeing results again. Don't get me wrong, I know I'm doing a good job and I'm already seeing changes that make me so happy and grateful. But I feel like I need something more concrete now; I deserve it.

AND the best is yet to come: if - and when - I complete this March Challenge and manage to get out of this plateau, I'll reward myself with a complete hair make-over and this GORGEOUS leather jacket I've been eyeing for a looooong time! :)

HERE WE GO! Bye, bye, Plateau!

So motivating! I love her outfit!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JCOLUMBINE 3/8/2010 9:32AM

    I also have been at a plateau for a really long time. I have the goal of 1 pound this week. I am doing a similar plan. Good luck. I know you can do it. emoticon

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MARCYNA 3/8/2010 3:22AM

    Hi & Thanks...I'll follow your program and tell you about results, Maybe it's time to end up with this plateau...I've had enough of it!!!!
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ZANNACHAN 3/8/2010 1:06AM

    Sounds like an awesome plan to me! You can do it!

I second the suggestion to take measurements, say once a week or every other week or so (not too close together; it will be hard to see any progress that way). Sometimes I lose inches when I don't see the scale move.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/8/2010 1:06:17 AM

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MAGPIE17 3/7/2010 6:14PM

    Sounds like you have a great action plan! If you're not seeing the scale move, it might help to measure each week if you're not doing it already. I found that the weeks that I didn't see any weight loss, I almost always lost inches. I hope your action plan works for you; just make sure it's sustainable or you might burn out.

Best of luck!



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RAEVENSWING 3/7/2010 5:40PM

    Sounds like you have a solid plan.
Stick with it and you should see some results. emoticon

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RAEVENSWING 3/7/2010 5:39PM

    Sounds like you have a solid plan.
Stick with it and you should see some results. emoticon

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IUHRYTR 3/7/2010 5:10PM

    I have confidence that this new plan will work wonders for you. You have the determination and positive attitude to succeed and you will. Hang tough and keep up the good effort. -- Lou

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Looking back on February and getting prepared for new challenges!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Hi everyone!

It's been a while. I thought I'd give you guys a little update on how I've been doing lately. Everything is going great! In February, I learned so many new things about being patient and taking things one step at a time. I'm now off to a great start - and for the first time, I don't feel burned out or stressed about changing my lifestyle! It's amazing. I now realize how important it is to keep in mind that weight loss happens slowly over time, not in 24-hour slots (which basically means that, these days, when I go over my calories or eat something I shouldn't, I don't say: "Oh well, I might as well keep eating since I already messed up my eating for today!") It's incredible what a difference such a short time can make. I now know that small changes count - there is no need for drastic, dramatic changes that rarely stick. After all, I'm in this for the long haul!

In February, I lost two pounds and a few centimeters on my waist. My clothes fit better, I feel more confident and I'm building momentum for months and years to come.

I look forward to March and seeing my body and mind transform even further. My goal this month is to lose 4 kilograms (about 7.5 pounds) and firm up. I'm loving nordic walking at the moment - it's so much more effective and burns 20 % more calories than walking alone! That's part of my workout plan for March as well as swimming, yoga and strength training. I'm also logging in here every day and tracking my meals & fitness as well as the goals I have set for myself. I have a good feeling about this!!!

Oh and by the way, I feel so motivated because I took some before pictures in early February and now again a few days ago, and I can already see a small difference. I'm on the right track!

How amazing is that?

emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MAGPIE17 3/4/2010 11:57AM

    Good luck with your goal, and congrats on your February weight loss!!



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ZANNACHAN 3/2/2010 4:14PM


That's great news! I'm glad that Feb. went so well for you and it sounds like you're off to a great start for March as well!

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WALNUT5612 3/2/2010 4:14PM

    ...."when I go over my calories or eat something I shouldn't, I don't say: "Oh well, I might as well keep eating since I already messed up my eating for today!") It's incredible what a difference such a short time can make...."

I couldn't agree more. It pays to get right back on track asap!

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IUHRYTR 3/2/2010 3:38PM

    Yes, you are on the right track. All positive progress is good. Keep up the effort and it will pay off soon. -- Lou

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