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After much reflection, I'm back to calorie counting.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Over the past week I've written pages upon pages of thoughts about my weight management journey in a Word document. I didn't want to post them here because I didn't want my decisions to be influenced by anyone's comments - I wanted to find out what was right for me on my own. I started by stating the facts - I am a 32 year-old woman whose weight has yo-yoed for years due to fluctuating lifestyle habits. I did come to the reassuring realization that no matter what happens, I have an innate drive in me to work on self-improvement, and no matter how far off track I get, I will always eventually come back to working on myself. This always happens. However, whenever I lose a significant amount of weight I always gain it back too.

Earlier in the week I reasoned with myself that my usual methods for losing weight weren't really working since I always gain it back in the end, and therefore I needed a new approach. I decided that a love of overeating was the one thing keeping me from maintaining a thin weight, and that I needed to work on eliminating the "poisonous thoughts" of eating when I'm not hungry. I planned my attack with a hunger scale and ways for dealing with wanting to eat for reasons other than hunger. I told myself to only eat when I was hungry, and to stop when I was no longer hungry. It all sounded great in theory, but then I tried it for a day and it drove me crazy. Deciding when you're hungry is subjective even when you have a 10-point scale, and when it comes to food decisions I tend to be irrational. I was uncomfortable with my plan and literally forgot all about it several times in the one day I'd promised myself I'd try it! It just didn't feel right for me.

I decided that as of this morning I am back to calorie counting. In contrast with the hunger scale plan, I'm excited about getting back to counting calories and feel very reassured that it works (at least in the short-term...will deal with long-term as it comes.) I made two calorie-counted batch recipes today and I also experimented with adding spinach to my smoothie after reading about this on other people's blogs. (I've tried before, but not in a long time.) The results - even if you can't really taste the spinach, there's something not very pleasant about a green smoothie. However, I also made a batch of my fake chocolate ice cream (I blogged about this the other day) and figured that the cocoa would hide the color of the spinach. Success - you can't tell there's spinach in there at all.

Anyway, there are five weeks until Memorial Day weekend and I'm very optomistic about counting calories between now and then and seeing a lot of progress in the right direction. In other news, I've been working WITH success on drinking more water, getting more sleep, getting up at 7 a.m. even though it's vacation week, and getting regular exercise. I've jogged outside every day this week and have done strength training at the gym almost every day. Having these other aspects of my healthy lifestyle in place are great, but my eating is really the thing that makes the big difference, and now I'm getting that back under control too.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TERRIANGEL 4/27/2010 9:45PM

    I have to laugh at how ALL teachers count the weeks until each vacation. 5 weeks till Memorial Day? Wow! Can't wait to be a part of that "club"!


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SKYFYRE 4/24/2010 10:29AM

    Hmm, we are parallel! I think that if I wait until I am hungry, it is just too late! Then I go crazy and eat and eat and eat going way overboard on the satiating side of things! Cheers to Calorie Counting! I am sure to follow!

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SPARKNMOM 4/23/2010 9:47PM

    Several points that really hit home for me here....

Good for you for taking the time to look at where you've been and where you think you need to go to be successful. I'm with you on not wanting to have too much input - I have a plan that works for me and the naysayers need to just nevermind :)

I'm terribly inconsistent when it comes to exercise. The nutrition part I do well with overall. I think that's why I've been able to maintain as well as I have - but I'm not toned - which WOULD be improved by exercise. So...I've got the scale whipped into submission, but now I need to work on the toning :)

I also like your 5-week goal. That's plenty of time to make a real difference and feel good about where you're going. And for me, seeing that success is extremely motivating and keeps me on track...Can't wait to see your continued success!!

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ZIRCADIA 4/23/2010 7:03PM

    I know you said you wanted to figure this all out on your own and whatnot, but can I make a suggestion??? Maybe you can THINK about the hungry/not hungry stuff while counting calories? So you have a framework for what your goal is each day with the calorie counting, but you can start to develop that sense of making a conscious decision to eat when hungry or know when you're eating something for another reason - bored, fun, craving, sad/bad/guilt emotions, whatever. So that you can work on something lasting while you are using a calorie range that you know will be temporary -- I mean, who knows, you might continue to count through maintenance. I know I've needed to continue counting calories myself and the way I see it -- I ate with complete disregard to health, physical need, amounts, activity levels etc. for my whole life until about 3.5 years ago when I decided to change. So 3.5 years is not really enough time to counterract it all I don't think... heck if I have to keep counting calories till I'm 50 I think that'll be just fine. Hopefully by then I will have this stuff down pat... :P

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RUN_LIFT_EAT 4/23/2010 6:54PM

    This sounds great Susan, I commend your introspection and honesty.

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    I need to spend some time thinking about my next plan of attack for weight loss, too. Thanks for sharing your ideas. For me, I know I can't loose weight unless tracking my food (calories) is part of what I do.


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JENONTHEROX 4/23/2010 5:59PM

    I'm totally 100% with you. I hope you report back on how you're feeling a few days in. I always put spinach in my morning smoothie too. Another great chocolate one is almond milk, cocoa, almond butter, protein powder (unflavoured unsweetened) and a banana or half of one... High enough in cals to be a meal tho,but very tasty...

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RA4945 4/23/2010 4:30PM

    Hey Susan, I lost your blog subscription so I need to catch up! You are one smart cookie! I think it was wise to journal and figure things out on your own first. Only you know what will really work for you. Your discipline does amaze me and you have a strong spirit that never gives up. I look forward to hearing about more of your successes!

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MBSHAZZER 4/23/2010 4:20PM

    Everyone is different - you have to find what works for you. If calorie counting is what does it, then GO FOR IT! What do you have to lose but the weight? :D I look forward to reading about your success!

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STEPHANON 4/23/2010 4:16PM

    I'm with you on the love of overeating. And I think I often can't distinguish between want to eat and need to eat. Glad you're back to a system that works for you. It's a long process to find a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle forever, but with all the reflection you're doing, you're bound to be making progress. Good luck!

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SEEHOLZ 4/23/2010 3:38PM

    What amazes me the most about you is that you can loose the weight and be disciplined enough- without ridiculous starvation.. I can't get that part of the equation right--- but I know there is hope for me. That means of course, that I have absolutely no room for gaining weight, which is super easy to do.. yikes.
Glad you figured out a good path for you--- I know you'll succeed all the way and will find your balance!!!

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TMAC10 4/23/2010 3:28PM

    these all sound like great goals and a good, solid plan. i too cannot do very well without calorie tracking...just seems to be the one solid thing that truly works. good luck!

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Memo to Marathon Runners - from a Marathon Spectator

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dear Marathoners,

You truly inspire me - each and every one of you. I am in awe of how far you can run. I watched many of you today near the Mile 8 mark - I don't think I've ever run 8 miles in one stretch in my whole life, but you made it look easy - and were ready to go more than 18 MORE miles on top of that - that is just incomprehensible to me!

I tried to cheer for as many runners by name as I could and it was exciting when I got a smile back or even a "thank you." However, I know that if I were running I would be too busy concentrating on running to always react when someone cheered for me, but I'd still appreciate it. I'd write my name in really big letters on my shirt - not my arm or leg because those would be moving too fast for people to be able to read, and I'd run toward the outer edge of the road where I could hear fans cheering for me. If my name were really hard to pronounce I might just write "Go *INITIALS*" on my shirt instead. I'd also want to run near one of those fun goofball characters who dramatically cups his hand by his ear (always seems to be a man..) to encourage spectators to scream more loudly, because that's when things get most energetic and fun.

I was especially inspired by the marathoners who didn't look like typical athletes - I saw blind runners, runners with one leg, and runners who were especially young or old. Every single runner I saw looked fit and healthy, though. Marathoners, I am so proud of you!

Boston Marathoners, I hope you're feeling satisfied and proud of yourselves, and aren't in too much pain. I hope you're able to relax and recover for the next few days! Thank you for inspiring me!!!

~Susan ;)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KENSINGTONC 4/22/2010 8:38AM

    This is so sweet!! Thanks for sharing. xo Liz

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ROGUE_1 4/21/2010 9:44PM

    WOW how amazing, so awesome you got to watch! I am inspired just by reading this!!!

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SEEHOLZ 4/20/2010 1:26PM

    Cool little tribute! I'd feel the same way!

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MBSHAZZER 4/20/2010 9:16AM

    Must have been so great to watch this amazing race! I know everyone running by appreciated your cheers!

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RUN_LIFT_EAT 4/20/2010 8:12AM

    Like everyone else, I love this blog, Susan! So true :)!

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NINJALINDA 4/19/2010 10:50PM

    Loved your blog!

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SPARKNMOM 4/19/2010 10:45PM this blog :) How awesome are you for cheering everyone on :)

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LASOLLER 4/19/2010 10:44PM

    What a great tribute...several of my friends from Missouri ran and I know you must have been cheering them on. Thank you. Your right it is very inspiring. I volunteered at the STL Marathon Expo and it was much fun talking to everyone and hearing their story. I just keep thinking if they can, so can I. One day it will be me....

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RUNNINGPFUHL 4/19/2010 9:16PM

    great blog ::::fans the tears:::::

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FLIMFLAN 4/19/2010 9:04PM

    emoticon Great blog! emoticon

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JENONTHEROX 4/19/2010 8:50PM

    Great tribute! I know watching would be super emotional for me, especially seeing those running & working around "a disability". This 70-something year old man at my gym has run the Boston about 7 times.

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CRYSBROWN1 4/19/2010 8:41PM

    Must have been thrilling to see! A couple of my co-workers were running in it, I feel like that's the race for the "big dogs" who knows, someday I would love to actually participate but 26.2 miles is no small feat, I'm tired just thinking about it. Good for you going out there to cheer for them though even though they were probably too exhausted to acknowledge every cheer I'm sure it was appreciated.

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SWEATONCEADAY 4/19/2010 8:02PM


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    Great blog!!!

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SANDYK4BAMA 4/19/2010 6:44PM

    I didn't know that you could actually just go WATCH a marathon! I need to do that for inspiration. Today is my week 1, day 1 of training for one or maybe a 1/2 one. It was very very VERY hard. I intend to do it though - even if it kills me! :D~

Thanks for your posting!

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Marathon Monday

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yesterday I opened Microsoft Word and opened all my old, pre-Spark fitness-related documents - basically blogs before I had access to a real blog spot. I realized that my pattern of gain and loss has gone on far longer than just my three Spark years, although now my low weights are lower than before, and my high weights aren't as high as before. (Basically now I cycle anywhere from 132-172, where before it was anywhere from 147-183.) Anyway, after I read my old documents I started a new one, and wrote nine pages of thoughts and possible goals. Maybe I'll share them since so many people commented on my last blog that they actually like to read my babbling thoughts. Heh - I'd give you permission to skim through most of it. Anyway, all that writing really got me thinking about new goals and I'm so glad that I have a whole week off to really work on crystalizing my new plan.

I won't get into the whole plan now, but basically it involves sleep, drinking water, and working on eating only when I am hungry. I started to try working on my goals right away - very difficult! - and as part of that I got up at 7 a.m. today even though I don't have to work. I was out for a run by 7:38 a.m. and it was a wonderful feeling to be out in the sun in the morning! Plus I live right near the route of the Boston Marathon, which is starting in a few hours! So I saw people setting up water stations, soliders, police officers, and the very first few spectators setting up their chairs at the perfect spot. I talked to one woman who had watched at the same spot for 30 years! It was energizing, and I'm going to get my beach chair soon and get back out there and watch, at least for a little bit. I've lived here for five years and never gone out to watch! I watched near the finish line last year, but I never watched in my own neighborhood.

Looking forward to adding to my 9-page Word document, and sharing all those thoughts with you... and trying out some new things!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SKYFYRE 4/22/2010 4:16PM

    Eating when hungry, I need to hammer that one down too, we can do it, we just have to stay conscious!

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FITGIRL15 4/19/2010 4:41PM

    Sounds great, Susan! I'm also a fan of being outside in the early morning hours! The sun is not harsh and the temperature is still crisp! Perfect time for me to enjoy nature!

I was thinking the same thing.. needing to spend more time journalling my thoughts. Thanks for the reminder!

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SWEATONCEADAY 4/19/2010 3:20PM

    eagerly waiting. i found an old spread sheet the other day too of measurements and weights.

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SEEHOLZ 4/19/2010 10:36AM

    Man, I so wished I could watch with you! Have fun and thanks for willing to share your document- I didn't comment last blog on liking your posts, but I really do!

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FRIZGIRL 4/19/2010 10:17AM

    Can't wait to read your new goals! And the Boston Marathon!!!! It makes me motivated just seeing those words there on the monitor! Great job getting up early on a non-work day and going for a run!

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MBSHAZZER 4/19/2010 9:35AM

    Fantastic! As much as I hate getting up early, I love doing something productive first thing. It sets the tone of the day. Enjoy the marathon!

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RUN_LIFT_EAT 4/19/2010 9:25AM

    What a great run! I was reading Runner World last night and of course it was all about Boston :).

Good luck on your new plan, Susan. The abbreviated versions sounds very realistic and doable.

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JENONTHEROX 4/19/2010 8:57AM

    If the Boston marathon doesn't inspire you or give you some positivity, nothing probably will... so wish I was there (watching, not running!)

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Healthy fake chocolate ice cream

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Here's a recipe I invented for healthy fake chocolate ice cream:

*frozen fruit (berries, cherries, and mango for me)
*cocoa powder
*walnuts (optional)
*honey (optional)

Blend until you get the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Now, if only I had the motivation to actually measure and track the ingredients, I'd be onto something!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROGUE_1 4/21/2010 9:36PM

    Your blog title sucked me right in! Great recipe, I'm going to give this a whirl. Thanks for sharing!

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ORLABIANCA 4/19/2010 10:00AM

    Sounds good, I will definitely try it! I think I would add some plain greek yogurt to it as well. emoticon

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5FRUITSNVEGGIES 4/18/2010 11:43AM

    yummo! sounds like something i would make

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RUN_LIFT_EAT 4/18/2010 11:19AM

    yum! That sounds great! Kelly turned me on to the Chunky Monkey that basically uses a frozen banana and chocolate protein powder and a little almond milk, that is pretty darn good too!

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MBSHAZZER 4/18/2010 7:08AM

    Wow, that sounds really good. Ice cream is my downfall. This seems like it would do the trick though!

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CARILOUIE 4/18/2010 6:33AM

    Haagen Dazs makes a great chocolate sorbet - low fat, (relatively) low calorie, and the texture is just wonderful.
Have a super day!

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LOPEYP 4/17/2010 8:07PM

    HAHA! sounds interesting.

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FRIENDOFBACH 4/17/2010 6:31PM

  I'm lactose intollerant, wonder if this would work with soy milk. It sounds interesting!

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Stream of Consciousness

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I weighed myself this morning for the first time in a week or two. Not good. Not going to share, either.

I get a boost of motivation when I read diet books. I read one yesterday at Barnes & Noble called _I Can Make You Thin_ by Paul McKenna. Right away I was suspicious of the hypnosis CD, but the book was short so I read it. The plan has four rules:

1. Eat when you're hungry.
2. Eat what you want, not what you think you should.
3. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful.
4. Stop when you think you're full.

I told my husband about it and all he had to say was, "You could never do that." Maybe his reaction is exactly the reason I SHOULD do something like this. I haven't decided yet.

This coming week is school vacation week and I really want to have a plan of action by early in the week so I can start implementing SOMETHING and feeling good about myself. I feel so ugly right now and my self-esteem is so low. I think I have two whole different ways of thinking and acting, depending on whether I'm on or off track. I don't want to dwell on the negative right now though.

Two absolute givens: I must try to get more sleep and I must drink more water. Oh, and a third given: I must eat more slowly.

When I was on track, I would never eat without having water or tea. I would take sips between bites and eat more slowly because I knew I wasn't going to allow myself unlimited food so I had to make what food I did have last.

I should make a list of things I did when I was on track. I should also try to figure out why I let myself get off track. You'd think it would be a basic question - it's all behavior afterall, shouldn't I know why I choose to behave the way I do??

Jess and I went to Fresh City for lunch - we'd never been there before. We didn't notice until after we ordered that they had a computer near the entrance where you could look up nutrition information. We didn't use it, but Jess asked me to look up the info as soon as we got home. He was sure that his salmon burrito would be lower-calorie than my Cancun burrito (chicken, guacamole, rice, beans, cheese, salsa, low-carb tortilla) but it turned out that mine was the lower-calorie option - 550ish? I think vs. his 750ish. I had guessed that his would be about 600 and mine 700. Plus he had a sweetened iced tea and chips, and I just had a water. But I had breakfast and Jess didn't. As we were finishing our lunches a waitress came around with samples of a fruit smoothie - I took one but since I'd been eating slowly - consciously putting my burrito down between most bites and taking a sip of water - I was full! So I took some of the tin foil from my burrito and wrapped my smoothie and it's still in the fridge at home.

I think I should practice leaving some food behind. I could be the president of the clean plate club - I really go to extremes, I would never leave behind a single grain of rice, it's embarrassing.

One more thing for now - lately on Spark I've spent far more time reading other people's blogs than focusing on myself. I need to get a bit selfish and write blogs that are just for me, without worrying about whether they'll be interesting to anyone else, or about whether I'll be embarrassed to say everything I want to say. (There have been times lately I've felt tempted to write to myself privately without posting my thoughts in a blog..though I haven't actually done that.)

I'll write again soon. I feel like I'm on the verge of making a positive change.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROGUE_1 4/21/2010 9:42PM

    I really liked this blog and the whole stream of consciousness idea. And I can completely relate to the whole blog bit too, and just recently wrote about how sometimes I worry about sounding like a narcissistic ass, or sounding silly or whatever. But you know, ulitimately, these blogs are for US and are helping us to reach our goals and are an avenue to journal our thoughts/setbacks/progress/successe
s or whatever it may be as we make our way through this journey, and it shouldn't matter what others think about the content/writing style or whether or not it's entertaining.

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STEPHANON 4/18/2010 6:47PM

    I agree with others - write whatever you need to in your blog in order to help yourself out, not to entertain your readers. An honest blog written about the struggles, temptations, triumphs, and daily ins and outs of your life will probably be more helpful to you on a daily basis, and you'd be surprised at how many people would be happy to read them. Real life is interesting, and we blog and read others' blogs in order to relate to each other, not really to be entertained - at least that's true for me.

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5FRUITSNVEGGIES 4/18/2010 11:50AM

    i get in that same rut--i read everyone else's blogs and then don't write my own....and even though i have things under control on this end, i still need to write and be a part of the community because it's a constant reminder of why i do what i do...

everyone's blogs help me in some way.....

your blog just reminded me to keep at the mindful eating, which is so hard for me to first instinct is to eat fast.....and i've been slowing down for a while now, but i still forget to do it....

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SEEHOLZ 4/17/2010 6:50PM

    I like the rules, however, I've tried them in the past and it always turned into me making some excuse and next thing I was overeating, without feeling full... maybe it's the fact that I've way overeaten too many time in my life or something else, but sometimes, it takes way too much food to get me full! So, that's that.
Good luck! I miss having you around more!

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FITGIRL15 4/17/2010 6:15PM

    I agree... I often wish I could blog but turn the comments feature OFF! Normally blogging is more therapeutic then actually advice seeking! But I definitely think that your blogs are never dull, or embarrassing or whatever you may think they are! We all have different journey's and every day is definitely a different experience waiting to unfold: good or bad! It's nice to share the good times but also document the rough patches too... I think we learn a lot from ourselves if we just LISTEN!

PS... That diet book you recapped at the beginning wouldn't have worked for me! If I was allowed to eat what I wanted, it would be pasta for every meal! And that's aint gonna make anyone THIN! You have to find a method that works for you though, so this might be a great method to try for you!

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1972ROSES 4/17/2010 6:14PM

    Don't forget that blogging about what you are going through can be incredibly useful to others. Some day, all the rest of us will be in maintenance or will lose track. If blogging helps you figure out your why's and how's to fix it then it might be exactly the thing someone else needs to figure out their own issues.

Or someone might just give you the encouragement you need when you need it. We're like family.

By the way, you are beautiful!

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    I used to clean my plate, and go back for seconds. I think it's great, though, that you are eating more consciously. Sometimes when I go out to eat and I'm taking my time and paying more attention to my food, I feel like everyone is looking at me and noticing that I'm not just blindly eating. But I enjoy my food a lot more if I take my time to eat it... I get to enjoy all the flavors of it and end up having a little extra time to chat with who I'm there with. It's a win-win. You certainly should keep blogging for yourself. I do enjoy reading them, too.

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MRS.NG.06 4/17/2010 4:06PM

    if anything, this IS the place to blog, who know better the trials and tribulations of the weight loss journey, than us? : ) take what you know, write it out, plan goals and be accountable....that always helps. I think once you get back into your groove, I think they'll be no stopping you *HUGS*

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MBSHAZZER 4/17/2010 3:32PM

    Hi Susan - please don't be so down on yourself. If weight loss was as easy as calories in versus calories out, there would be no diet books! It is so complex, based on your personal taste, your upbringing, your feelings about food and eating.. so many issues surround weight loss! The key is to find out what works for YOU. It sounds like you are making great headway towards that - I don't think it's an easy task and most people probably don't even bother to take the time to find out what makes them "tick". So, I think the work you are doing is going to set you up for success in the future. Hang in there and GREAT JOB!! :D

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MARATHONER340 4/17/2010 3:29PM

    I feel the same way sometimes about not wanting to post too many embarrasing details about my struggles with food. But it seems like we really aren't all that unusual! Most people have some sort of preoccupation with food/disordered eating. Those 4 rules sound simple enough - although I know things are not always as easy as they seem they "should" be. Good luck with leaving food behind! I tell myself all the time I NEED to do that more. And lastly - your blogs really should be for YOU! Not anyone else. Although I always enjoy reading them - mostly because I can relate!

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