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Challenging myself

Monday, October 08, 2012

I finally feel like I'm back in the game 100 %. There is no secret formula or short cut to get your spark back and get motivated and focused again. I've learned that you just have to start doing things like tracking your meals and working out even if you don't feel like it. That's the only way to get your spark back! :) So, I've been working out and eating right and I'm so motivated to start losing weight again. This month, I'm going to challenge myself and push myself a little harder than usual. I'm setting myself four small goals for the rest of the month and if I don't break the streak, I'll reward myself when the month is over. My goals are:

1. Don't eat any candy before Halloween.
Everyone who knows me knows that I have the BIGGEST sweet tooth!! But I feel like I need to challenge myself to give up sweets and sugary treats for just a few weeks to get back control over it. So: no candy (chocolate included, obviously!) before Halloween - and then I'm allowed some sweet treats in moderation.

2. Go for a walk every day.
This is something that is ESSENTIAL for both my physical and mental well-being. Going outside for a nice, brisk walk makes my stress disappear (and I need that right now because of the hair loss issue I wrote about before) and makes my body feel great as well.

3. Track what you eat every day.
This makes all the difference in the world, I've learned. It can seem time-consuming, especially if you haven't done it in a while but once you get in the habit of tracking everything you eat, it becomes automatic and you don't even think about it. And it will make losing weight SO MUCH EASIER!

4. Do just 10 minutes of strength training every day.
I need to start doing strength training regularly again, and I'm going to join follow SparkGuy's example and start a streak: just 10 minutes of strength training a day can make a huge difference (especially mentally!). Some lunges, push ups, crunches and squats and that's 10 minutes right there! :)

So these are the goals for the rest of October. I wrote them down on a piece of paper and put it where I can see it every day. That way I can always be reminded of what I want and track my progress.

Wish me luck!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 10/9/2012 10:14PM

    A good plan. I know you can get back on track and hit your stride as you did earlier. emoticon -- Lou

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IGSBETH 10/9/2012 3:30PM

    Good for you! I am trying to avoid sweets too.

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JADOMB 10/9/2012 12:44PM

    We are with you sweetie, you can do it. Just be careful of the 100% mark, that is most times impossible to attain and can cause frustration or burnout. 90% will still get you an A. ;-) And it is much easier to attain. Keep the faith.

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DMANN104 10/9/2012 8:42AM

    I totally understand #2 - I'm like that with any physical activity, I need to get some thing in each day to be happy & able to cope with everything. #4 is one I need to work at too!
Good luck with your month's goals!

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RBETYOURASS 10/8/2012 10:46PM

    I have #1 as my October goal too! Sooo tough but we CAN DO THIS!
I got your back chick! ;)

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MISSLORI5 10/8/2012 5:11PM

    Great goal/! They are very much achievable/doable ones that are so important and yet will become a part of your life if you make them a habit! I have gotten myself to a point where I no longer have to have candy in my life, it's here, but I don't want it very often as my weight loss is more important to me so it's my prime objective in life!!!! I wish you great success in your new goals and the adventures they can bring! Have a terrific month!!!!!!

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CAYCESMOM 10/8/2012 5:07PM

    Good Luck!! emoticon

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High cholesterol

Thursday, October 04, 2012

So, as I wrote a while back, I went to the doctor this week to try and figure out the cause of my sudden, increased hair loss. They ran some tests and checked my thyroid and hormone levels as they can affect hair loss, and they also checked my cholesterol levels because I asked. I've wanted to know for quite a while now because my dad has had high cholesterol all his life and has suffered from heart disease (and has also had some cardiac surgery). I was scared to find out if my cholesterol was also too high but at the same time I really wanted to know.

Well, today the doctor called with the results. Turns out my thyroid and hormone levels are fine which basically means that something else is causing the hair loss. We are now trying to figure out what it could be. But it also turns out my cholesterol is a bit too high. Nothing too alarming as it's almost in the normal range. I don't know if they use the same units in the US as they do here but she said mine is 5.3 when it should be lower than 5.

I can't say I'm surprised because I had a feeling that might be the case. Now I'm going to focus on lowering my cholesterol by eating right and working out regularly. I'll make sure my saturated fat intake is as low as possible and focus on getting enough unsaturated fats instead (but obviously not too much of that either). I'll eat more fruits and veggies as well as soluble fiber. Also, nuts, green tea, soy, low-fat dairy products, canola oil, olive oil and avocados are all good for lowering cholesterol. In addition to that I know I also need to eat more fish and I'm planning to have salmon with some steamed veggies for dinner on the weekend. My goal is to get my cholesterol down to the healthy range as quickly as possible. I wonder how long that will take? I'll need to schedule a follow-up blood test in a few months I guess. Is it too early to expect results by then?

Are any of you guys dealing with high cholesterol? Do you have any tips or ideas for me to start lowering mine besides the ones I just mentioned? :)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IGSBETH 10/5/2012 11:34AM

    Knowledge is power. Now you know, so you can take care of yourself better.

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JADOMB 10/5/2012 10:19AM

    It runs in my family and I've been tested for being borderline, but so far no real issues. I do need to go in for a wellness checkup though since I've lost all this weight and see where I am now. Glad to hear you are fine in those respects. I too am still noticing more hairloss and am not sure why either. I'm at my healthiest, I eat well and I'm not stressed. So I just don't know.

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1STATEOFDENIAL 10/5/2012 1:01AM

    They might do differently where you're at (doubtful), but in the US they test more than 1 number for cholesterol (unless the total cholesterol is normal, then they might skip it in some instances). They test HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), triglycerides, and give the total as well as a ratio.

The total should be below 200 mg/dL. HDL should be above 60 mg/dL. LDL should be below 100 mg/DL. Triglycerides should be below 150 mg/dL. There should also a ratio of total cholesterol to HDL of 5:1 or less, but it is preferred to be below 3.5:1. I'm assuming the 5.3 number you got is that ratio.

It's a good idea if you have a family history of high cholesterol to know all of your numbers, what they mean, and to get your cholesterol checked often. If on cholesterol lowering medication this could mean 4 times a year to see if the meds are helping, but normally it is more like once a year or once every few years if your number is normal.

In example, I've had my cholesterol checked a few times in the past and if I didn't have all the numbers it would have raised flags. My total was a tick over 200 (I think it was 203) but my ratio was 2:1 because my HDL was just shy 100 while my LDL was just over 100. So while my LDL was a little high and could build up in my blood vessels, the HDL was really high (which is good) which helps clear the LDL out of my blood vessels. So while my total number says I'm crossing into a danger zone, the rest of the numbers show it's really good.

Thus, with a ratio of 5.3 this could mean your total cholesterol is way too high or that your HDL is way too low, or both. We can give you ideas for how to help your numbers, but either your doctor (who should have all of those numbers) needs to advise you or a nutritionist (who should have acess to your complete numbers). Also, know that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are GOOD fats that can help lower total cholesterol and raise HDL. Exercise is also very good for the same thing. Know that dietary recommendations say we should have under 300 mg of cholesterol per day from food. We must have cholesterol to live, but perhaps staying under 250 or 200 mg per day MIGHT help you. Eating less saturated and trans fats also helps. Though, it is important to note that the body also creates its own cholesterol, and some people naturally make more than others. Having a family history of high cholesterol could mean that the genes in your family could be those that lead to high cholesterol naturally and that it will be extremely difficult to change your numbers without medications. (Both sides of my family have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease, yet somehow my sister and I have been lucky enough to not be afflicted by it, perhaps because of the other medical conditions her and I have.) Still, the side effects of those medications are nothing to play around with (recent studies have linked them to serious and even fatal events), so learning about cholesterol and how to combat it through proper nutrition and exercise will be a huge benefit to you.

I hope all of this information helps, though you can find much more by searching websites like webmd and other healthcare websites (stick with educational websites and avoid places like wikipedia that could have improper or incomplete info).

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IUHRYTR 10/4/2012 11:26PM

    Sounds like more tests are in your future but if they pinpoint the problem they'll be worth it. Glad your cholesterol is near normal. -- Lou

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GOULDSGRANITE 10/4/2012 4:07PM

    Wow - Hope you can get that figured out. My DH had a heart attack last November, three weeks after having a thorough investigation of his blood work and working out on the treadmill. My Mom Had high Chlosrestol for 30 years and never had heart problems. Hopefully, you and the Dr. will get it worked out!

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CANES4EVER63 10/4/2012 3:39PM

    On medication, both cholesterol and triglycerides can be drastically lowered within a few months. Both of my parents have high cholesterol, my dad's triglycerides are through the roof, and my mom's is within the normal range. Both my parents have been on medication and it drastically helped my mom. My dad, however, has been taking meds for years and it hasn't helped. They also both eat the exact same food and my mom will take our dog on walks almost everyday and my dad will go on 50 mile bike rides twice a week, so they are somewhat active. They eat extremely healthy.

As for me, I've been having my cholesterol checked on a regular basis since my dad's is so extreme. 5 years ago, my cholesterol was 202 (in the States, it should be below 200). I stopped having it checked throughout college since I didn't have regular doctor visits. I had my cholesterol checked again about two months ago with routine blood work and it was 273! 273!! That's with working out nearly everyday and eating a gluten free, low fat (I always got reduced fat cheeses and skim milk), lots of freggies, no processed food diet. I convinced my doctor (not my family dr) to do a small and large particle breakdown. It's a new test that helps determine your risk of a heart attack and is suppose to be a better indicator. Well, that should be below 1000. My dad's cholesterol doctor (yes, there is a specialist!!) would be STOKED if he could get his breakdown to be below 2000. Well mine? 1900. 1900! I'm only 23! I eat right and I workout! I seem to have gotten the bad genes :(

So what am I going to do? Well, I recently learned that I'm lactose intolerant, so I'm not eating any dairy what so ever (even soy, since my stomach was bothering me when I tried soy milk). I'm hoping this well help with my cholesterol since I won't be getting any "fattier" foods. Most likely, my family doctor (who I'm seeing again in a few months with new lab results) will put me on statins to help lower my cholesterol since lowering it the right way isn't helping me.

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ARCHIMEDESII 10/4/2012 2:55PM

    emoticon I hope your doctors find out what's causing your hair loss. Are you under any extreme stress or anxiety ? Stress can cause a person's hair to fall out.

As far as cholesterol, studies have shown that a regular exercise program can help reduce a person's cholesterol. So, do make sure to get some exercise as well as changing your diet to include lots of fresh fruit and veggies.

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KRISZTA11 10/4/2012 2:34PM

The first and best step is healthy food!
It is good to have your cholesterin checked once in a while.

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ELISELOVE1 10/4/2012 2:22PM


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Goals for October

Monday, October 01, 2012

I love it when a new month starts! It's like a clean slate! It always makes me more motivated to make that month count and really focus on making healthy choices when it comes to diet and exercise.

I'm setting a few goals for October to keep me focused and motivated.

Weight loss goals:
- Track your meals every day and make sure you stay within your calorie range (at least 95 % of the time)
- Go for a walk daily and aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio per day
- Eat at least 4 servings of fruit & veggies a day
- Update your blog at least three times per week
- Lose 5 pounds!

Stress relief goals:
- Do yoga & meditate 3 times a week
- Do your relaxation & breathing exercises every day
- Keep a "stress journal"

Writing goals:
- Finish my novella
- Write for an hour every day

I'll come up with small ways to reward myself at the end of each week if I have met my goals. I'm so excited to get back on track for real! I'm so proud of myself for having maintained my new weight for this long but I'm also eager to start shedding these pounds again - slowly but surely. I have a feeling October is going to be the month I finally get my act together! ;)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MISSCRIMSON 10/7/2012 7:24PM

    This is great!! You have inspired me to blog my October goals as well. Best of luck in achieving everything. We are behind you %100



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JADOMB 10/2/2012 8:42PM

    Staying on track and keeping the faith will do it every time.

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DMANN104 10/2/2012 11:06AM

    emoticon Great plan, sounds like the beginning of a great month!

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IUHRYTR 10/1/2012 9:37PM

    Achievable goals, Annie. I'm confident you will meet them. emoticon -- Lou

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COMMUNITY10 10/1/2012 8:28PM

    Great goals! You'll get back on track in no time!!

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MAGPIE17 10/1/2012 8:23PM

    Great goals! Let's rock October!

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CANES4EVER63 10/1/2012 6:46PM

    These are GREAT, doable goals! You can do it! And 5 pounds this month? That'll put you into the 140s! That's SO exciting!! Let's both get there by November, ok?

Comment edited on: 10/1/2012 6:47:25 PM

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ABILUCHA 10/1/2012 4:55PM

    A new month and a new plan! Love it!

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IGSBETH 10/1/2012 4:28PM

    You can do it!

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Sudden hair loss - I'm freaking out!!! :(

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Well, actually, it's not that sudden. Here's the deal: a couple of months ago I noticed that I was shedding a lot more hair than I normally do during the day. Long strands of dark hair were suddenly everywhere: on the floor, on my pillow, on my shirt and my hairbrush... And when I took a shower, lots of hair fell off. I wasn't sure if it was just a phase (I've read somewhere that people can sometimes shed a lot of hair really quickly but it's normal and the hair will recover) or if it was something to worry about. Over the past month or so, however, the shedding has increased dramatically. My hair wasn't thick to begin with and now it's visibly a lot thinner than it used to be. THIS IS SO DEPRESSING! I don' know what's going on. I dread washing my hair because every time I do, the shower floor is COVERED in my hair and it really scares me :(

I have been eating biotin, multivitamin and calcium supplements since the shedding increased but so far it's not helping. I'm going to see a doctor about this on Monday and he'll probably run some tests (thyroid and hormone levels) to figure out what's going on.

This makes me so sad. I know things could be a lot worse but it's still very scary and depressing. What if I lose all of my hair? I've been reading A LOT (and I'm not kidding, I've been online reading about hair loss for hours almost every day) about this and I know that there is this disease called alopecia and it can cause sudden hair loss. There is no cure for it.

I just hope the doctor finds a reason for this - a reason that can be treated with medication. I know that stress can also cause hair loss and admittedly, I've been very stressed lately with the move and everything else and should definitely look into some stress relief methods. But I don't think stress is the reason for this. Sometimes sudden and drastic weight loss can also cause hair loss but my weight loss has been slow and gradual, and I've been monitoring my intake very closely to make sure I get enough of nutrients as well as calories.

When I style my hair properly it almost looks like I haven't lost any hair at all, but I can feel it and see it when I look myself in the mirror or run my fingers through my hair. It wasn't until now that I realized how much I love my hair (I often used to complain about it for not being thick or long enough) and I swear if this problem goes away I will NEVER EVER complain about my hair again.

I'm trying not to think about this too much but it's very difficult. I can't wait until Monday and I hope the doctor will be able to help me with this.

Have any of you ever struggled with this problem? Any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 9/28/2012 4:55PM

    As a man, hair loss is a natural occurrence but one that hits our egos and self-esteem hard, too. I hope it is something minor that can be fixed after you see your doctor. -- Lou

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JADOMB 9/27/2012 8:57PM

    I somehow ended up with condition called Lichen Planus a couple years back and it took awhile for the doctors to figure out what I had. It in itself causes hair loss. Then the meds they put me on also caused hair loss. I guess this stuff comes and goes without much notice and for the most part I am over it. But I still have a few spots that I put a cream on so I guess it is still in my system. I think I am still losing more hair than normal and don't know if once I totally get over this(if it's even possible), that my hair will grow back in thicker.

So it is just amazing all the things that cause hair loss out there.

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ABILUCHA 9/27/2012 3:24PM

    Oooh, that's a tough one! I hope they find a solution for you!!

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SQUIRRELLYONE 9/27/2012 8:13AM

    I had this problem when I switched the Pill to a new version which didn't agree with my body chemistry. Of course my hair loss was exacerbated by the fact that I was so oily that I had to shower twice a day if I wanted to not leave smudge marks or lose my makeup. Once we switch pills, everything evened out after about a week.

Hope it's an easy fix for you!

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1STATEOFDENIAL 9/27/2012 4:51AM

    Using a lot of hair product can cause your hair to become brittle and break. Running your hands through your hair a lot can also cause your hair to break. Stress is very bad for hair loss and the more you stress about it the worse it gets. Some shampoo and conditioner can actually cause your hair to become more brittle. Age-related hormone changes affect your hair. If you're missing some nutrients and/or having too many nutrients can cause hair loss. Too much sun can damage the skin and hair follicles. Pulling grey hairs out can cause the hairs around it to become loose and fall out. Waiting longer between showers allows loose hairs to stay in place longer so more 'fall out' at once instead of more often. Taking hot showers can damage hair follicles. Certain medications and supplements cause hair loss. Allergic reactions can cause hair loss. Brushing your hair while it's wet causes your hair to break.

Basically, what I'm saying is there is a ridiculous number of reasons why you could be having hair loss and it could take your doctor awhile to figure out reasons. Before the appointment write down every change you've made in the past few months - food, exercise, hair products, stress, sheets/pillows, medications/supplements, even if there's been changes in your water supply. Also, you might even go so far as to save all the hair from 1 shower to show your doctor; this way they can see how much it really is and have a better idea if there's something to be concerned about or not.

I have incredibly thin, fragile hair already and my medical conditons have caused it to become worse. While we can't cure my conditions, simple tips like not using hair products, being gentle with my scalp in the shower, and following medication protocols does help. But one of the biggest helps is trying to ease stress.

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KRISZTA11 9/27/2012 3:15AM

    It was a good decision to see a doctor, I hope he can help!
Losing about 100 hairs a day is normal, and that looks a lot if your hair is long,
but if you see your hair is thinner it is a good thing to check it out.

Apart from that, there is one thing I can think about: does your diet contain enough fat? Some vitamins that help hair and skin grow absorb only together with fat in food (A, D, E, F, K).

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IGSBETH 9/26/2012 10:36PM

    I hope the doctor finds a solution too! *hugs*

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GARDENQE2 9/26/2012 7:45PM

    Losing your hair is a shock! I happened to me!

When you go to the doctor for tests, ask for one for Hashimoto's disease. It is a thyroid condition they rarely test for. I have read that up to 10% of women have it, so it's relatively common. I learned about a month ago I had it, because I went to a new doctor who actually listened to me. She gave me all sorts of nutrients, and I feel like a kid again. Plus, I've lost a pound this month!

Good luck!


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CANES4EVER63 9/26/2012 5:16PM

    I've been losing a lot of hair over the past few months as well - I'm pretty sure it's due to some sort of vitamin or mineral deficiency. It develops in months, so it takes months for it to go away, so it'll take a while to see any noticeable effects from taking the supplements. Hopefully the doctor will give you some good news and it is reversible!

Also, my friend had alopiecia when we were in middle school and she had a bald spot on the side of her head (she could cover it up and was allowed to wear a hat in school), but the good news is that the hair started growing back again!

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Beach pictures from Greece!

Friday, September 07, 2012

I used to hate wearing a bikini. I was always self-conscious and felt like everyone was staring at me because of my weight. I know I'm not at my goal weight yet and I still have ways to go but when we were on the beach back in Greece and I was wearing my new red bikini I felt really confident and beautiful. My boyfriend had a waterproof camera with him so we took some fun pictures while on the beach! Here are some of them (my favorites, of course ;) !)

It was such a beautiful beach and we often went there around sunset. My boyfriend is an amateur photographer and he has like six or seven different cameras and he literally took thousands of pictures (!!) during our vacation. I've been trying to go through them but it's hard work! Haha. I wanted to share these earlier but I've been busy with the move and my classes starting etc. But I'm going to be posting another picture post in a few days!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MAXNMOM67 10/17/2012 9:58PM

    These were beautiful pictures, you look great, Greece is one of my favorite places.


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GIANTOCR1 10/4/2012 3:31PM

    These pictures are beautiful. And you look so sexy in that red bikini...

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CANES4EVER63 9/15/2012 8:59AM

    Great pictures and congrats on the bikini!! Keep up the great work!

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ABILUCHA 9/14/2012 5:04PM

    You look gorgeous! That red bikini is smokin'!

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ANELAKANOA 9/9/2012 11:57AM

  I wish I looked like you in a bikini! You look amazing! It looks beautiful there!

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HIKINGSD 9/8/2012 5:57AM

    Absolutely gorgeous! You look great!

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IUHRYTR 9/7/2012 8:49PM

    Bright red has always been a favorite color of mine. Beautiful picture, beautiful scenery, and a beautiful lady. -- Lou

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JADOMB 9/7/2012 1:30PM

    Beautiful scenery, and it would be lacking without you in it. God bless

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-POLEDANCEGIRL- 9/7/2012 12:49PM

    Looks like an amazing time!!! Love the red bikini!!

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ELISELOVE1 9/7/2012 11:56AM

    what a fun trip for you.

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KRISZTA11 9/7/2012 11:10AM

    What a beautiful place!
I'm glad you have fun : )
You look very pretty on those pics.

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DMANN104 9/7/2012 10:07AM

    Glad that you enjoyed your vacation!! Nice pictures - can't wait to see more!

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KKKAREN 9/7/2012 9:43AM

    Nice pics looks like it was a good vacation!

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GARDENCHRIS 9/7/2012 9:36AM


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