NUOVAELLE   48,420
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The best exercise for all of us

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I was never a couch potato. But the visit to the gym or a quick workout at home was always something I HAD to do not something I WANTED to do. The last time I had a gym membership was some time near my twenties! Ever since then, my exercise would be 20 or 30 minutes on the static bike or the treadmill whenever I felt like it. And of course walking – lots of it as I have no car – and swimming during the summer months.

Sparkpeople helped me “discover” exercise! No, let me rephrase that. Sparkpeople helped me discover the love for exercise I never knew I had! Through articles, coach Nicole’s videos, other members’ blogs, I began learning about new ways of exercise and their benefits to my body and my weight loss efforts. I started slowly, step by step. Tiny step by tiny step actually. At first, I was really disappointed at my fitness levels. I’ll never forget my first attempt to do jumping jacks! After about 4 or 5 of them I was lying flat on the floor thinking “this is it, I can’t catch my breath, I’m going to die right here, right now!” But I never quit. I just took one step back. Ok, I’m not ready to do jumping jacks yet but that doesn’t mean I will never be able to. I’ll do something easier and later on I’ll try again. And that’s how I learned that my body can do almost anything. The fact that we can’t do it today doesn’t mean that we never will. We’re just not ready for it yet.

I tried many things and I’m always on the lookout for more. Three years of experimenting with different types of workouts have led me to the following reviews.

WALKING WORKOUTS: The best way to begin your fitness journey. Even if you’re a couch potato or you use your car as a substitute to your legs, your body is made to walk. No matter how heavy or how old you are, if you have no other reason that limits your body movement, you can start walking now. Whether you decide to walk around the block or to the park or you purchase one of those walking DVDs which give you the chance to start slowly and at your own privacy, it’s your best choice to launch your fitness journey. You’re too slow? At least you’re not on the couch anymore!

YOGA: Mind and body experience. Too difficult at first as it requires good balance and flexibility. It teaches you the art of breathing which is really important in all kinds of exercise. If you stick with it, it does wonders to your body, to your mood and to your stress levels.

PILATES: Even though it’s not one of my favorites, I have to admit that it’s one of the greatest ways to strengthen your core. It looks easy but it isn’t. The moves use body resistance in a brilliant way which really wakes up even your most “dormant” muscles!

ZUMBA: Made for people with a dancing spirit! A great way to exercise and have fun at the same time. The moves can be a little tricky and if you’re a perfectionist like me, you might be disappointed at first or feel that you have two left feet! Great cardio exercise!

KICK-BOXING: My number one favorite! I never believed punches and kicks could bring up that heart rate so fast! It helps you throw away all your bad energy through every kick and every punch. Every second of a kickboxing workout makes you feel stronger and stronger. Ok, you got the idea. It’s my absolute favorite!

STRENGTH TRAINING: The absolute MUST! If you really want to feel and see a difference in your body start strength training now! Yesterday would be ideal! You can use whatever type of resistance suits you best. Free weights, resistance bands, gym equipment, your own body resistance, whatever you like. If you haven’t tried it before, chances are that soreness will hit you hard during the first workouts. Don’t get disappointed. Get some good rest between workouts, give your muscles time to recover and NEVER, EVER skip the stretching part.

BOOTCAMPS: Usually high-intensity programs you can find at gyms or on DVDs. They require an advanced level of fitness, unless otherwise advised by the creator. They usually incorporate different kinds of workouts – like strength training, kick boxing, some martial arts, dancing cardio – and they are programmed to last for a certain period of time. They’re usually really fun and super motivating!

CIRCUIT TRAINING AND INTERVAL TRAINING: These are also ways to put different types of workouts together. Circuit training is a combination of strength training and cardio exercise. Each circuit usually targets a certain group of muscles on the body and there are cardio intervals between circuits. Interval training on the other hand is mainly a kind of cardiovascular exercise which consists of intervals of high intensity and low intensity exercise. Both ways are used by athletes and they are said to be coaches’ favorites. They are definitely an excellent way to take your fitness to the next level but they require an already acquired level! So, don’t rush!

RUNNING: Well, this one I haven’t tried yet. I tried once but I had the same luck I had with the jumping jacks… It was probably too early. But I can tell you what I have realized from all my runners friends here on Spark. Running is not just another type of exercise. It’s a way of life. You either love it or you hate it. You either start and you don’t like it and you never want to try it again or you begin with a C25K and already dream of running a marathon one day. I really don’t know which side I’m at. But I really want to try it again. I want to feel the freedom they’re feeling. That’s how I see it. As freedom of the body and the soul. Like when a small bird manages to spread its wings and fly for the first time. Fly in the open horizon, alone with itself, feeling the endless boundaries of its own existence. Am I right runners?

After having tried all these kinds of workouts, after having gone through ups and downs during my fitness journey, I’ve come to one simple conclusion. There is one type of exercise that it’s the best for all of us.

It’s the one we like.

Because simply we will stick to it! We’ll have fun and we’ll want to do it again. It will become part of our everyday ritual and not our everyday torture.
So, try any exercise that you think you could love. But if you don’t like it, don’t push yourself into doing it just because you’ve heard it works. Try something else. You’ll find something that works for you.

Make exercise a synonym for fun. And enjoy it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CANNIE50 7/14/2012 2:45PM

    Elle, thank you for taking the time and effort to put this blog together. My main forms of exercise are running, walking, hiking (trails), and strength training. I think you just may be one of the people, like me, who gets hooked on running. I began running in my early 40's and I started by running 5 minutes without stopping and it was HARD! This past weekend I did a 7 mile trail run and I came in 19th out of the 40 women who were in my same age group. It is never easy but it is so worth it. Running has helped me mentally and emotionally more than anything else - I have sorted through a lot of stuff while running. I adore strength training because being functionally strong is very important to me, plus I find it more relaxing than yoga! Yoga and Zumba and Pilates are all on my fitness "to do" list - I think winter will be a good time for me to add these to my fitness menu. You are doing so great - I always love your attitude. PS If I can do jumping jacks, you can definitely do jumping jacks. I have worked my way up to 100 by adding a few at a time, same thing with jumping rope. I like little bursts of intense exercise to remind me that my body, as you so wisely remind us, is meant to MOVE!

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FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 7/11/2012 9:57PM

    all around agreed.

I've always loved sports and that is how I got my exercise all my life up till mid twenties. Kids(and lots of them)makes it hard to be on a team of my own and commit to a couple times a week + tournaments.

I've loved the time+workout=happy mama but thats even been hard as I moved out to the county 3 1/2yrs ago.

But....they just built a new rec center/full gym out here that opened last month so I am back to ST.

All my weight lost last year was due to running outside, snowboarding & workout vids.

Anything you love, I believe, cannot be enjoyed every single day. I think some days you have good ones and some days you have a bad one. But if you love it the majority of the time, you will definitely make it a lifelong activity.

Have a good one. Oh, and definitely try running...just try may be wishing YOU started yesterday:)

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BAKER1009 7/11/2012 2:24PM

emoticon emoticon emoticon Blog! Love it!

I couldn't agree with you more. Walking is how I began my journey. I remember my SIL telling me about Leslie Sansone and walking at home. I thought she was crazy. I couldn't believe that she was getting a good workout by walking 2 miles inside her house every day. That was until I tried it, and holy crap, walking outside for 2 miles would have been easier! I couldn't even walk the full 2 miles in the beginning. I walked until I was doing 5 miles a day. That is when I realized I had to change it up, and went to cardio workouts, especially kickboxing, which I too am a huge fan of.

As you know, I didn't start ST until this year, but as you also know, I fell in love immediately. I think there are too many misconceptions surrounding ST, and I think that is why many avoid it completely. Maybe you could write a more in depth ST blog to help educate emoticon

I love what you are doing with your series of blogs. You are the emoticon emoticon


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BECKY3126 7/11/2012 10:33AM

    I really loved this blog. And the quote.

You are so right. I have tried so many different exercise routines. I LOVE strength training. I am doing ChaLean Extreme right now for that. I have recently started a running program, and while I am not in love with it just yet, I feel like I will be. My body is still adjusting to the newness of it. And kick-boxing is an all-time fave! I haven't done it in so long. I may have to put that back in my routine....

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AEROBISAURUS 7/11/2012 10:25AM

    I agree Elle! You do have to find some kind of enjoyment from what you do for exercise. Changing your attitude towards physical fitness is key to keeping it up! I myself had never enjoyed strength exercise because it made me feel weak and defeated (dang ole' heavy weights) but I sucked it up and kept doing it. Now that I feel and can physically see the change on/in my body from ST work but it's changed my attitude towards it. Now I love the challenge and I actually look forward to being sore from it! emoticon

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SCRAPPINPOLLY 7/11/2012 10:04AM

    I love your breakdown of all the exercises. I do cardio and circuit right now and have never felt better.

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What's your choice?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Day by day.
Step by step.
Choice by choice.
That’s how you’ll reach your fitness goals. But the first day, the first step, the first choice will be your guide to all the following days, steps and choices. You have to decide HOW you want to lose weight.

There are two ways to lose weight: the fast and the permanent. You might be thinking that the categorization I’m doing is not right as the first describes the time required and the second describes the time it will last. But believe me, thousands of stories of weight loss from people all over the world can easily prove one thing: when it comes to weight loss, fast can’t be permanent and permanent can’t be fast.

That brings you at a crossroad just at the beginning of your journey. What is more important to you? To get rid of this weight fast, as soon as possible and be able to see a certain number on the scale even for a little while? Well, you can find hundreds of crash diets and promising diet pills and supplements out there that can help you reach your goal. If, on the other hand, your main interest is losing the weight and keeping it off forever, no matter how long it will take you, then you should vote for what we call a “lifestyle change”.

I’ve previously shared with you my experience of both dieting and lifestyle change. This is the blog link in case you want to have an idea.

Choosing to change the way you live won’t be easy. It’s actually the hard way. It’s the road less traveled. And it’s a bumpy road. Quitting on the diet mentality that most of us have been used to for years can be very difficult. Getting rid of everyday habits of your life up to now, whether you’re 20 years old or at the first stages of retirement, is a big deal. And that’s where motivation comes to do the trick.

Picture it. What do you want to look like in a year from now? How do you want to feel like? Which ugly habits do you wish to have got rid of? Make a visual of yourself and keep it in the front window of your mind. Whenever things get tough – because they will – close your eyes and stop by your mind’s window. Your image is still there. And it’s up to you to make it real.

Just believe it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 7/10/2012 8:07AM

    yup yup. you got it:)

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ZANNBEE 7/9/2012 10:56PM

    Awesome blog!

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SHANTODD420 7/9/2012 1:17PM

    Thanks for sharing what a great blog.

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ANNIEONLI 7/9/2012 10:56AM

    Great blog!

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Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Thursday, June 28, 2012

… who’s the most honest of them all?

Whether it’s your first attempt to lose weight or you’ve actually lost count of them, every time you are on square one, you are likely to feel determined and ready to shed those pounds once and for all. But if you want the outcome to be successful, you should start by facing your biggest ally and at the same time your worst enemy on this journey: yourself!
So, stand in front of your mirror, be honest to yourself and answer three simple questions.

1. “Do I really need to lose weight?”

Over the past few months that my weight loss became obvious I heard comments like “How did you do it? Why can’t I succeed?” voiced by perfectly normal-sized people and sometimes people that one could easily call skinny! There are thousands of influences out there that could cause us to have a distorted opinion of our body image. Of course the important thing for everyone is to feel good in their body. But if you don’t, think about it again. Don’t just count on weight charts and indexes. They might be indicative of our overall size but some flexibility is always accepted even by experts. Who do you usually compare your body image to? Are you really overweight or are you being a very strict judge of yourself? Give it a second thought. Then go on and set realistic goals based on a real-life, ideal body image of yourself.

2. "Who am I doing this for?”

You might be doing this for your husband because you’ve noticed the way his eyebrow raises at the sight of your skinny, fit next-door neighbor. You might be doing this for your wife because she keeps “reminding” you how handsome you looked when she first met you. You might be doing this for your best friend who’s getting married in a few months and wants you to be his best man or her maid of honor and would like you to look your best. All these may sound like great motivation – and they are, as long as they’re just a motivating occasion and not your actual reason. Otherwise, you’ll be taking orders from someone to start something you might not be ready for. And the chances of failure begin to rise.
You have to do this for you! In other words, you must want this badly! And such a strong desire can only be yours!

3. “Am I ready for the changes involved?”

Let’s face it. Any big life change requires sacrifices. When you decided to go into university, when you moved far away to another city to pursue the career of your dreams, when you took the big step of getting married, when you accepted the huge responsibility of becoming a parent, you had to leave some of your habits behind. Well, now you’re about to change yourself. You’re about to change the only thing that has been with you ever since the first second of your life and will carry you through to your last breath on this planet: your body! Does this sound like an unimportant change compared to the ones mentioned above? Then why wouldn’t it require sacrifices?

Focus on your goal and make these sacrifices worthwhile. Embrace them and they’ll lead you to a new version of yourself!

That was easy, wasn’t it? You practiced your first lesson of honesty to yourself. It might sound simple but it isn’t. If you think about it, you’ve lied to yourself many times. You’ve found ridiculous excuses for not exercising or for overeating, haven’t you?

But honesty is the foundation for any successful and productive relationship. And only if you have established such a relationship with yourself, will you reach your goal one day.

Face yourself, face your fears, face your challenges. Get ready for change!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 7/4/2012 11:15AM

    honesty IS the best policy. and it totally fits with weightloss and fitness.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BAKER1009 6/29/2012 8:33AM

    Great blog Elle!
I think it is always a good first step to try and see why you got where you are. It doesn't all have to be bad. I mean, some people emotional eat. Others gained weight during pregnancy and just didn't have the time to spend on themselves after the fact. Regardless...identify that reason! And be honest with yourself. If you can't be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with?!

I love everything you've wrote here, and the motivation quotes/pictures. Wonderful blog!! Thank you for taking the time to write this and to help us all on this journey!


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LUCINDARW 6/28/2012 5:07PM

    You have hit the nail on the head! Honesty is always the best policy whether with someone else or your self. It does take a lot of courage for some of us to do that and follow through with change for life. I want to do it for me and to be around for my daughter and grandchildren so I can set a good example. Thank you for your blog. Lucinda

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ZANNBEE 6/28/2012 5:06PM

    This was an awesome blog. Again. Great reminder as always that it's a process and that it's as much about our mind as it is about choices.

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The changing process

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In my last blog, I announced the launch of a series of blogs concerning my weight loss journey. So, what is this all about? Let me explain.

Next September I will have been a member of Sparkpeople for three years. During this time I spent lots of time reading and learning new things about nutrition, exercise and healthy habits. It took me almost two years to actually start losing weight and be successful. So, you’ll assume that’s all you need to do. Spend hours reading, learn everything you can about all these subjects, literally “soak” your brain in the sea of information and articles you can find here on SP and on the internet and you’ll be ready to reach your goals.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple…

I’m sure most of you have seen the film “Matrix”. Do you remember the way they “downloaded” any information or knowledge they needed directly to their brains? Wouldn’t that be great? Do you need to learn how to fly a helicopter? Just “plug” yourself in and in a few seconds you’re a pilot! Do you need to be a nutritionist, a personal trainer and a fitness expert, all in one? Wait a few moments, until the “loading meter” is filled and… that’s it!
Even if we could use this fictional technology – which could prove really useful in other areas of our lives! – we wouldn’t have solved the puzzle of weight loss. The information would be really important but the secret is not in some “highly confidential” nutrition facts or some “top secret” training techniques.

The secret lies within!

It’s a process of changing your frame of mind and the way you think about food, exercise, diets, health and all the subjects concerning weight loss. It’s about you becoming a self-taught psychiatrist of yourself and only. Every day you’ll have to sit yourself on the couch and ask and answer questions. You’ll have to find what helps you in your progress and boost it or what halts your progress and fight against it. The secrets are all in your mind and you’re going to have to discover them. YOU are the only one who can do this.

So, I’m here to share my changing process. Hoping that you can find a helping hand in your own. At the same time, I’ll be standing by you, exploring new ways of staying healthy and discovering if I can really practice what I preach for the rest of my life. Remember that each and every one of us is different. But we have the same goal: a change of lifestyle that will lead to a healthy, long life.

We are in this boat together.
Let’s sail to the ocean of success!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 6/27/2012 8:44AM

    We ARE on this boat together.

I, mostly, love this journey. There are moments of defeat but I always pick myself up the next day or week or even month. Thanks for all the encouragement. I look forward to reading your comments.

happy Wednesday to yoouu!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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AEROBISAURUS 6/26/2012 11:43PM

    Yep! emoticon Can't wait to read about you're journey :)

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WANT2BEFIT10 6/26/2012 6:58PM

    So true Elle! Well written :) I'm looking forward to reading your blogs!

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ZANNBEE 6/26/2012 12:43PM

    Great blog. How we think about ourselves is key to governing our choices. Great blog.

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BAKER1009 6/26/2012 12:41PM

    Beautiful blog Elle, and so very true!
I'm looking forward to your series of blogs. I love reading everything you write!

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A successful year in numbers, facts and pictures!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This blog was supposed to have been posted yesterday but certain things came up and I only found time at about 2 am! Being too sleepy to type and upload pictures, I postponed it for today.

19th June 2011. That’s the day my serious attempt here on Sparkpeople began. I had already been a member for almost two years but with no success. The date wasn’t chosen by chance. My husband is the person who talked me into seriously trying hard to reach my goal. He is the one who made me believe that if we really want something, we can work hard and achieve it. So I chose his birthday to start my journey. And finish with this weight battle once and for all.

19th June 2012. One year later. Let’s see my progress in numbers.

Weight: From 87 kilos to 69. From 191 pounds to 152.
A total loss of 18 kilos – 39 pounds.

Waistline: From 99 centimeters to 82. From 39 inches to 32.
A total loss of 17 centimeters – 7 inches.

Resting heart rate: From 94 to 66.

Blood cholesterol: From 254 to 220. (I still have to work on that one!)

Size: From 16 (occasionally 18!) to 10. From XXL to M – and sometimes S!

But the things I’m really proud of don’t involve numbers. They are the non-scale victories, my fitness achievements, my strength and health proofs that I trade for nothing. All these things that a year ago I couldn’t imagine myself doing and I couldn’t actually do more than one or a few no matter how hard I tried. I’m talking about pushups, jumping jacks, lunges, planks, reverse planks, bicycle crunches. I’m talking about jogging all my way to my kids’ school. I’m talking about running up three floors in my apartment building. I’m talking about chasing my kids in the park. About health. About endurance. About strength. About freedom.

The benefits of exercise are the invaluable gift I got from my fitness journey. My strength is much more important than reduced sizes, clothes that fit or the number on the scale. Not that these didn’t make me happy of course! But what makes me even happier are all those everyday moves that I can do freely now. I can bend and tie up my shoe laces without feeling that the increased pressure will make something burst! I can run if I’m in a hurry – no, I couldn’t do this simple thing before! And numerous other things that I know many of you can imagine.

This is how I looked before:

And a before-and-after picture:

The picture on the left was taken on the day I joined SP in 2009.

I haven’t reached my goal yet but I really don’t mind. It just seems so difficult to lose any more weight and to break through this plateau and I’m not sure I want to go to extremes in order to see a smaller number on the scale. After all, I feel happy with the image in the mirror. And those few things that bother me can either be fixed with exercise or can never be fixed! They are just “time and experience marks” as I usually call them - just like face wrinkles. The only thing that bothers me is this cholesterol which is still a bit high and my doctor is sure that a few more pounds lost will definitely make a difference. I’ll just keep on with my healthy habits, wait and see!

What I really hope is that in 2013 on my husband’s birthday I will be able to post a blog here with the same maintained numbers and maybe some fitness accomplishments. Until then, I decided to launch a blog series about my journey. I’ll remember and share with you my thoughts, my struggles, my feelings, my success strategies. If I can help just one person to find the key to their own success, it will really be worth this journey.

I’ll just spread the Spark! That’s my new mission.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BLOOMINGLENA 9/4/2012 4:28AM

    You look great! You are an inspiration to me and thank you for all the motivation! I hope my journey with SparkPeople has the same results for me! CONGRATULATIONS! I adore you for all the things you have achieved and for your inner strength that led you to be NUOVAELLE! YOU ARE AMAZING! emoticon

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MINNA72 6/26/2012 12:45PM

    WHOA!!! Look at you, girl! You look amazing! Congrats!

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WANT2BEFIT10 6/25/2012 1:26PM

    AMAZING!!!! Look at your total transformation :) You should be so proud of yourself and what you've achieved! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ZANNBEE 6/22/2012 12:51PM

    Wow! So nice to see pics of you and your successes! Thank you for sharing your journey. Read your tribute to Jess and it made me cry. Congratulations for all that you've done! I am 6 months on my journey and I love being healthier. Way to go. You are an inspiration!

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BAKER1009 6/21/2012 11:29AM

    Elle you are such an inspiration!! I love seeing the before and after pictures. I've known your for over a year now and it's nice to finally have a face to put with your name :)
And it's cool to see just how far you've come!! You've always been a beautiful person, but I can see on your face in these pictures how much happier you are now and that's awesome!!
Yes, NSVs are just as important, if not more important, than what the scale says. I'm so glad that you realize that.

Keep up the awesome work, and I know for a fact that you'll have maintained perfectly and in 2013 you'll be so impressed with your success!!

Super hugs!!

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VENISEW1 6/21/2012 9:03AM

    emoticon emoticon

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MICHSTATE 6/20/2012 2:26PM

    Awesome job!!!!!! WooHoo!!!!

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FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 6/20/2012 2:21PM

    Wow-you look fantastic...and soooo much younger. You really do. Its funny how weight adds years. I know you will maintain. Keep on doing what your doing:)
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03BFISCHER 6/20/2012 1:34PM

    Great journey!! Congratulations on your victories and the life you have gained!!!

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AEROBISAURUS 6/20/2012 1:24PM

    I LOVE your new mission. I LOVE your blog! I can't agree with you more about the non scale victories! I try to stress that to everyone I know who wants to be healthier and fitter. The scale means nothing! You are an inspiration! Way to work it! emoticon


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CATDUG19 6/20/2012 1:11PM

    Wow what a great year. Not only hav you loss a lot weight it looks like you have lost about 15 years. Congrats and keeping pushing yourself

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SHANTODD420 6/20/2012 1:08PM

    Congrats and you look amazing keep up the hardwork and dedication.


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JESSNSTONE 6/20/2012 1:08PM

    Amazing! You should be so proud of all you have accomplished! Way to go!!!

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