NEWKAREN43   45,972
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The Story of Flowering Plants

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My brother, my only sibling...I love this guy, he is 1 year and 11 months older than me and he has been my hero since I was conceived!

Ok, enough extolling the love of my big brother...his second child, his oldest daughter, who will be 18 in July is graduating high school this year and then she will join her older brother in Seattle at SPU next fall - and is there this weekend for registration/orientation. The graduation party will be June 4 at their house. In light of the party, my brother wants his yard to look its best. He builds, remodels and does disaster clean up at homes for a living and has been a builder for 25+ years. He knows people in the biz..including a landscaper who he calls Hans and I call Hans and Franz...who sold him flats of flowering plants at what must have been a great price because my dear brother bought 7 FLATS of plants.

He is good at math, he really is, but he failed to figure that he had just purchased 18 DOZEN plants, that means 18 dozen holes to dig...bless his heart, even knowing that I was coming to help plant, he started on Thursday evening and planted the first 3 dozen himself. Then Friday he and his two youngest children (6 yo boy and 5 yo girl) planted 5 dozen more (bro had to re-plant those done by the children, they didn't put them in deep enough!) so that left a mere 8 dozen little plants and 2 dozen geraniums to plant problem!!!!!

Oh my, no problem! I have two blisters, one popped and one not, and a bruised shin (ok, my niece, at a mere 5 years old decided to 'karate chop' Auntie Karen in the shin!) and some very sore knees, butt muscles, thighs, etc...

I obviously adore my brother and his wife of over 25 oldest nephew at SPU, my niece about to join him...and their second family, when the children got old they had a few new ones! And I thank them for all my fitness minutes today in their yard that needed help...I hope it looks lovely for my niece's graduation in a couple of weeks.

Filled with love...blessings to my Spark Friends...and my family...Karen
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MRS_TOAD 5/25/2011 7:06AM

    I'm sure the garden is going to look fabulous for the special day! Sounds like you got a great workout.

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BETTA13 5/22/2011 11:23PM

    So... you're the Lupine Lady! (From the book, Miss Rumphius) She goes around planting lupine seeds to make the world more beautiful!
I love flowers. (And I even have a lupine.)

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SANDYDOLLAR201 5/22/2011 7:53AM

    Hope your knees, butt and thighs aren't killing you this morning :) May be a day to soak in a hot tub with a good book!
How nice of you to help plant so many plants, but that is just the kind and sweet person you are!
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RAINBOWCHOC 5/22/2011 7:03AM

    hope there are plenty of blooms to show for all the hard work

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SUGARPUNK52 5/21/2011 10:19PM

  Good exercise! Another plus is you got to visit your family AND get plenty of sun.GOD bless.

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Trouble with Artificial Sweeteners

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In my life Before SparkPeople (I guess B.S. would be appropriate!) I tried to drink diet soda, sugar free beverages, substitute a packet os sweet n low for sugar in my iced tea, etc. But I didn't drink the amount of fluids that I do now, in my A.S. or After SparkPeople era...

With the addition of water, really fluids in general to my lifestyle, I often, probably more often than I should have or maybe even realized, dumped in a Crystal Light pack or Wyler's packet of flavor to my cup. I kept all kinds of flavors on hand for just such occasions.

Early this week, in addition to having some pretty ferocious seasonal allergies going on, I had a RAGING headache! Pain I could not get away from...I took ibuprofen, naproxen, addition to the decongestants I was taking for the allergies. My wise husband sent me an article about the side affects of aspartame and ace-K...and it all clicked! I have literally been poisoning myself with artificial sweeteners!

Wednesday I got up without a headache, that's the way I usually start my day (head ache free), began my day with a coffee with real sugar (a little concern about calories) and then drank pure, no flavor water all day. I had a little trouble getting my water but I did not have a head ache ALL day! Today, I did the same, no artificial sweeteners, no headache but I did put lemon juice in my water and had NO trouble getting plenty in my body!

So, I would encourage anyone who is using a lot of artificial sweetener, if you have head aches, stomach issues, even runny nose or swollen eyes, please read about the side affects of artificial sweeteners and consider reducing or eliminating them. You might be really glad you did, I know I am! Two days without a head ache is almost unheard of for me - for probably the last year or two! And I've been blaming stress...

Blessings my Spark Friends. We have a lot to learn on this journey to health and fitness!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MRS_TOAD 5/21/2011 10:00AM

    I'm so glad that you are feeling better. Thanks for the info. I, for one, am trying to avoid diet coke (the few times I drink soda) and instead to choose regular because of the study that links "diet" soda drinkers with a 45% higher chance of becoming diabetic. While I drink soda so seldom, maybe once a week, I have started to wonder just what I am putting into my body.

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MELGIE 5/20/2011 7:20PM

    Hi Karen! Hey have you tried Agave Nectar yet? I started using it in so many things and just love it. I try not to use artificial sweeteners for the obvious reasons but I also get terrible heartburn from them. So now I use Agave, Stevia in the raw and sometimes raw sugar. I love the Agave because of how it falls on the glycemic index. It is on the opposite end as sugar/honey yet is sweet as sugar. Yes you will have the calories (60 per Tbl) but you won't have the hunger/carb craving cycle start like you do with sugar. I came across a handy website the really addresses the glycemic index in a easy to understand fashion. you can look up any food and compare. Has helped me alot.
Let me know if you try it and what you think. (I buy it at the grocery store or Walmart grocery) Hope this helps you! Have a great weekend!

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NEWKAREN43 5/20/2011 11:58AM

    First, to all of you THANK YOU! I really thought maybe I was a little that's for affirming that though I am a little nuts, I'm not nuts on this particular train of thought!!!

I want to comment on stevia because I tried it some years ago and had heart palpitations but otherwise like the taste, didn't find there was one that other people reported, etc. But heart stuff scares me so...I don't stevia.

Raw sugar! Thank you Tanya and CurvyGrrl, I have to check that out. I used that in Europe but got to the States and of course, went back to old habits. Also, in the 11 days I was in Europe in the Spring, I had almost no artificial sweetener and had no head aches and didn't connect the two (of course, I was blaming stress at work so being on vacation also eliminated the stress so...) Can I just say bbblllleeeeaaaa to old habits - we do them without thinking and this is a lifestyle change so thinking is required! Duh Karen!

Thank you all! I love Spark! Oh, and I agree, my husband gets points...he's a good guy! He's a Spark guy now too but he's still a shy sshhh....I'll introduce him when he's Sparkier! Blessings my Friends! Karen

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CURVY-GIRRL 5/20/2011 10:33AM

    Absolutely true, Water is my #1 drink of choice. Then I would even go as far to say take the calorie hit and use the real thing rather than poisoning yourself. I found that I really wasn't craving the sugar or caffine in soda, I was craving the carbonation. I occasionally drink La' Croix sparkling water berry, lime, or lemon. And for about 2 years now - I either use real or raw sugar, maple syrup, honey, or my favorite liquid stevia to sweeten things. I don't crave sweets the way I used to drinking "diet" sodas.

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SANDYDOLLAR201 5/20/2011 6:51AM

    Hey Karen, You are right about artificial sweeteners, they are not all that good for you! I also used them, I put Equal in my coffee in the morning thinking I was doing something good for myself, which ended up not being the case. Through reading Spark articles I discovered that these were not the best choice but I really needed that double double and I didn't want to dump white sugar back in! I continued to read more posts on the subject and found that raw sugar was my best choice. It is the same amount of calories as white sugar, but it isn't processed so it is much better for you. I am pleased to say that now, I am only using a single teaspoon in my coffee now, and I haven't used white sugar in months!

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MELLABELLAS 5/20/2011 3:18AM

    You're right! Aspertame, which is the most common artificial sweetener in sodas like coke and pepsi.. can cause a a TON of side effects. It used to make my hair fall out and have me crave sweet snacks more, since the stuff basically coats your tongue in a "sweet" flavor long after you are done drinking the diet soda.
I haven't had as much problems with Splenda, a form of sucralose. I try to buy sodas made with this. I know it's not as healthy as getting pure water, but it's better than aspertame...

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BETTA13 5/20/2011 12:08AM

    This is very true for me as well. I have cut way down on sweetners/sugars in general. I have a diet drink once in a while but I avoid it since it limits my water intake. Water, water, water. Nothing can replace it.

So glad you're feeling better.

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CANNIE50 5/19/2011 11:34PM

    I have been concerned about this very thing so thank you for posting this. I have backed off on real sugar but find myself turning to "fake" sugar more than I used to and I know it is something I need to deal with. I am so glad you are feeling better and, what a nice husband! He gets husband points, for sure. emoticon

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I went shopping for clothes...

Monday, May 09, 2011

Next Saturday is the 40th Anniversary Celebration for the company that I work for and during that celebration they give out longevity awards, I'll be receiving my 10 year award and I will be presenting to my staff 1-10 year award and 2-20 year this is a big deal, a big event. I am expected to look nice, dressy professional nice. So, my 12 year old daughter and I went shopping.

I've been on Spark for over 3 months, I've lost 26 pounds in 2011, I've worked out hard, I've been mindful of my eating but not obsessed, I've seen some victories and I've seen a few plateaus, I've read articles on health and nutrition and sizing specifically of women's clothes and it took me TWO SECONDS in a dressing room to be completely discouraged!!!!!

What in the name of all things good and right are clothing designers and manufacturers thinking!?!?! First, is ANYone out there shaped like ANY of these clothes? And do they really think that bright pink, purple, aqua or yellow flowers on any size OR shape of bun OR breast is really flattering??? Really!?!?! I admit it, I'm a 6 foot tall pear shaped woman - I'm not easy to fit on a great day but yesterday I tried on dresses, skirts/blouses, suits with skirts and suits with pants to the point that I was chafed in several of my lumpier regions and ready to call my 5 foot 2, size 4 (on a heavy day) boss and tell her that I will not make the celebration due to nothing to wear. That would have gone over SO well!

Nearly 6 hours of shopping later (my 12 year old owns several new outfits including shoes and hose that she was "just going to try on") - I did end up with a so-so skirt, a pair of quite attractive (with the right undergarments - think 'teflon foundation') straight leg black flowy pants with a camisole and my choice (yes, more than one!) ruffly blouse to choose for the top.

I'm relieved, thankful to my daughter for her endless running for sizes and unending, positive flow of comments in addition to laughing with me, to the point of tears, at some of the ridiculous 'options' we actually considered and to one wonderful, compassionate, helpful, JC Penney store clerk named Dora with the patience of a saint. I don't think I will go shopping again for another 25 pounds of loss...when the chafed bumps and lumps and bruised ego are healed.

To all my Spark Friends who nodded with me through this blog...I know, you all know... emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_RAMONA 1/17/2012 2:40PM


I have the opposite problem.... they don't make clothes for a 5' nothing, pear-shaped woman... and like you, I mas never sure for whom they are designing. Good for you for persisting!

{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}}

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BETTA13 5/20/2011 12:23AM have quite the sense of humor. I can totally relate (daughter's wedding was in February). At 5'10" I had a hard time finding a full length dress that is long enough. Pants too. I just bought some workout pants at Target this week. They carry longs! woohoo! Stretchy with a yoga band at the top. They are so comfy.

Are you going to do the before and after pictures? My heaviest picture is in my photo gallery if you want to see it.

Congratulations on your hard work!

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WITHJOI 5/19/2011 5:42PM

    I feel your pain. I do have to say though, at 5'10" I only shop at Fashion Bug. I highly recommend it! I actually bought a pair of pants 2 weeks ago that are too long! I couldn't believe it! They are having some great sales right now and they have some super cute clothes! Oh, when my mom is in the mood to buy me clothes she takes me to Catherine's in Boise. Their clothes last forever and are very beautiful too.
Congrats on finding an outfit for the occasion! Hope you love it after all that work! Did you log in the shopping as fitness minutes? LOL!

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COUCH2FITLIFE 5/18/2011 8:10PM

    Congrats on the 26 lb. loss and on the award at your job!

I totally feel ya on the shopping thing...I frequently walk around stores thinking "Who is THAT made for??"

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MTKRITTER 5/17/2011 10:31PM

    Congrats on the 26 lbs loss! I think that is awesome even though your shopping trip wasn't the greatest. You did find clothes and you will look wonderful!

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WATERMELLEN 5/17/2011 9:57PM

    Yup, we do all know. Been there, have the T-shirt!! (And, it was darn hard finding even a T-shirt that fit!!)

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    Congrats on the 26 lb.!!!

Happy Racing!

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TRAVELGRRL 5/17/2011 7:02PM

    Boy did you hit a nerve with this blog! I went shopping today and I TOO wonder why manufacturers come up with these loud prints, clingy knits, and skinny dresses that CANNOT look good on anyone over 100 pounds!

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INGEINCANADA 5/17/2011 4:04PM

    I just want to tell you this....At 9 months pregnant I had to go to a party. A BIG party. There I was, looking like a big balloon, trying on dresses, any dress that would fit and look half way good. In one store, out the other. I hated it all, looking at my big belly in those change rooms, feeling ugly and getting more and more depressed. In one of the last stores, when I emerged from the fitting room deflated and discouraged, the salesgirl stopped me and said "you look so beautifull" (and I wasn't even buying anything in that store) . She made my day, and I have never forgotten. Just wanted to say, maybe the perception we have of ourselves while in those blasted dressing rooms, and outside of it, isn't really how the rest of the world sees us. I am sure you will look stunning in your new outfit.

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LAURAKINS 5/17/2011 10:49AM

    I so feel your pain! emoticon

I really don't enjoy clothes shopping either. Whenever I try to shop with my daughter she comes hoe with lots of stuff and I usually come home with very little. I'm going to attempt to go shopping with a friend today to see what I can find.

I hope you had a nice time at your company celebration!!

Comment edited on: 5/17/2011 10:49:29 AM

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CASSIOEPIA 5/16/2011 7:20PM

    I'm a non-shopper, and get frustrated easily too when trying on clothing. Your daughter sounds like a peach!

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CREATIVEJOY39 5/15/2011 4:54PM

    I offer my support to you as well!! Clothes shopping is also a very frustrating and expensive experience for me and I avoid the mall at all costs. I've been in plus sizes for over 20 years and the selection and cost keeps getting more challenging.

Online shopping has become more appealing to me and I've had good luck finding what I need through speciality sites with some trial and error.

Congratulations for not giving in and being persistant. My daughter would not have had the same patience as your daughter. Bless her heart!

You have done so well!!


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MRS_TOAD 5/11/2011 9:22AM

    emoticon on the 26 pound loss. That is such a big accomplishment and not to be overlooked by your dressing room experience. Also another big emoticon on your success in the workplace. You have a lot to be proud of and I hope you are patting yourself on the back for a job well done!

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RAINBOWCHOC 5/10/2011 10:37AM

    I hope the event goes well. I agree with the previous folk you have done very well and there are a whole load of designers that need to speak to women rather than assume we will wear their "creations". Hopefully the next time you have a "do" to attend your outfit can be put to good use.
best wishes, Sandra

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MELGIE 5/10/2011 7:49AM

    Let me start by saying.....26 lbs!! WOW! You are my hero for today! :) I so look forward to the day when I can say "I lost 26 pounds!" Way to go! on to shopping. I do understand. I hit that wall Easter clothes shopping. I was in tears at one store. LITERALLY! I can not imagine I am the only one who has ever cried in the dressing room, eh? I HATE SHOPPING! (Hubs loves this about me! LOL) And....If you shop like I do....your daughter earned every piece of clothing you bought her! HAHA

Now that being said....Remember this: You make the event. Not your clothes. You have worked your tail off for 10 years to get to where you are. You need to be recognized and do like wise for other people. :)

I am still sitting here awwwwwwing over your 26 lbs! :)

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SANDYDOLLAR201 5/10/2011 6:58AM

    Oh dear, how frustrating. I am on the shorter side, so I have an awful time buying clothing so I know how you feel. So glad you were able to get something, and nice that you and your daughter could share a laugh.
Enjoy, your event, and congratulations on your 10 year award!

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CHELLEBO1 5/9/2011 6:12PM

    Sorry that you didn't enjoy your shopping experience. I went shopping this weekend too and was frustrated with the clothing options available to me. I have to agree with you some of the patterns would make Twiggy look heavy. The other option for someone like me (who wears a size 22) is the ever popular tent or mumu dress - I mean really does any woman really want to wear that.

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GOLOPTIOUS 5/9/2011 1:18PM


That's why I hate shopping. I swear that whoever designs clothes must not realize that everyone's bodies are different.

I'm sure you look great in your new outfits, and congrats on the weight already lost!!

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Positive Self Talk

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Throughout my life I've tried to be a positive person. I enjoy encouraging other people to do their best, succeed, grow...

One of the things that I've struggled with as an adult, especially as an overweight woman with perfectionist tendencies who manages staff in a tough industry (medical) and a tough field (collections) is feeling like I don't have a lot of successes to celebrate. That usually takes me to a place where I start thinking I'm not good at what I do or don't succeed or I'm not a good manager or worker or...all very negative messages running through my head AND when I think one negative thought, they multiply to two and then exponentially from there! Soon, EVERYTHING is wrong, NOTHING is right (classic all or nothing thinking!)

Today I was working away, too much to do, not enough time, not enough staff but I was good, in fact I was better than good, better than ok, I was great! I was getting it done, I was productive, I was drinking my water and snacking on fruit and feeling great! And I thought to myself, "I'm handling this well." "I'm getting a lot done today." "I feel good and strong." And like the negative messages, the positive messages started multiplying too!!!! I love that feeling!

So, I need this everyday. I need positive thoughts running through my mind, keeping the negative junk at bay all the time. I'm going to make a very conscientious effort to think positive, self-affirming thoughts about myself every day. I'm done with the negative and self-berating thoughts that have sometimes plagued me.

Blessings to all on your journey to strength and health AND POSITIVE SELF TALK!!!! Karen emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAVELGRRL 5/3/2011 7:28AM

    You have written a PERFECT blog for me to read this morning! I'm going to take your lead and concentrate on turning all my negative thoughts into a POSITIVE message.

Even saying "I've done so poorly last week, what a failure I am" can be turned around to "I did a good job by stopping that binge when I did. Now I can get back to business!"

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JAMARIGOLD 4/22/2011 4:34PM

    Great blog! Thanks for the reminder. And blessings to you as well.

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MRS_TOAD 4/22/2011 10:34AM

    You are right on spot, Karen. I, for one, need to practice more positive talk and thus have more positive thoughts. Thanks for the reminder!

emoticon Sending you some light!

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JUSTJUSTY 4/22/2011 1:38AM

    You are proof positive that positive head talk works! emoticonKeep it up. emoticon Make a sign or collage of positive sayings and place it in front of you on your desk. Talk to yourself in the mirror as you brush your hair, such beautiful soft hair, today's gonna be a great one...

I'm pulling for you! emoticon

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Reading YOUR Blogs! Thank you!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I have been on Spark for 3.5 months. I've lost 22 pounds since the first of 2011, 16 of those pounds on Spark. So...what about your blogs???

I've been reading blogs about my new Spark Friends; gaining weight and losing it f-a-s-t, handling a child's birthday party with an ice cream cake (oh my!), losing friends in death from cancer but also every day life, grandchildren born with illnesses, jokes about weight loss (to really get us through!), traveling, challenges, frustrations, successes, goals met and so many other topics...and I've found endless inspiration in these blogs.

I am so very, very blessed to be associated with each and every one of you, whether we have "friended" each other or not, I'm so blessed to have you in my life. No matter where we are in this journey; year 1 or year 3. No matter where we are in our weight loss; at goal or 100+ pounds to lose. No matter if we are young or old, I am blessed to have each of you in my journey.

Thank you. Blessings to all of you in your journey to good health, a healthy weight, renewed energy and peace of mind. Karen emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MELLABELLAS 4/27/2011 5:31PM

    Great post. Made me think about all the blogs I have read in the last month or so since I've joined spark people. It really has been great to read about other people who are trying to reach the same goal as me. I am going to friend you on here because I'd like to keep in touch while we walk this journey. I hope you will add me, too! Thanks agin for the great blog post

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WITHJOI 4/27/2011 4:49PM

    emoticon emoticon

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PAT3ONTHEBACK 4/19/2011 10:06AM

    Right back at you! I echo your sentiments--beautifully put!

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MRS_TOAD 4/19/2011 8:35AM

    emoticonon your continuing success. It is people like you that keep others motivated with your sense of gratitude and positive outlook! Thanks for being you.

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SANDYDOLLAR201 4/19/2011 6:47AM

    Thank you for your blog, I think it is awesome at how well you are doing!!
I have been on for not quite 3 months and am going quite slowly, but at least the weight is coming off :)....I don't recall you reading my recent blog?? If you get time, please do!

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RAINBOWCHOC 4/19/2011 4:18AM

    Thank you for your blog too!
I try and start the day with at least a blog from each of my groups, then I might be inspired to write my own!
Well done with the weight loss. Carry on the good work
best wishes, Sandra

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BUBU54 4/18/2011 11:00PM

    I have been a Spark person since Dec. 30. I have lost a total of 23 lbs with a couple of hiccups or a lb or two. Anyway, I have just recently started the reading the blogs. I enjoy reading about how other people are doing. I will keep reading as long as people post. Good luck on the rest of your journey as a Spark person.

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