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STRONG_SARAH's Recent Blog Entries

22 lbs lost and other big changes

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I weighed in this morning at 142.5. It's the lowest weight I've been at for years and it's less than three pounds away from my 1st goal weight of 139!
I say 1st goal weight because, although 132 is my ultimate goal, 139 is comfortably within the normal category on the BMI, I know that all my clothes fit at 139, and most importantly, it's less than 140! I have an emotional attachment to numbers in the 130s. Weird, huh?

On May 1st this year, I weighed 165. Even writing that number is stressful for me. I was in a bad period, and all the stress in my life showed on my body. Thankfully I found the will somehow to make the first step and made an appointment with a dietician. I lost 18 pounds within the first three months, and four pounds in the last three, hello plateauville! Honestly, I can't blame it all on a plataeu, my concentration has been spent looking for a job more often than not.

Anyway, even though my weight loss has slowed recently, it still is going gradually down, and I am still confident that I will get there.

In other news, I'm now working two part time jobs, one of which I like, and the other I don't. The job I don't like I have to work until the end of December because I'm under contract. Italy isn't a work-at-will country. If my employers fire me without a very good reason, they'd have to pay me anyway until my contract is finished, and if I leave early, they could sue me for damages. So, I'm staying and my schedule is crazy busy until the end of the year.
The new job is interesting and young and fun and I get to travel! I'll be in Dusseldorf at a trade fair in November. I'm really excited about it. If I can prove my value to the company (which I certainly intend to do) next year it'll be full-time and I'll be one happy camper!

So, in summary, I've got a bunch of awesome reasons to look forward to 2015. I'll be thin, employed, and with enough money to get my MIL out of my house and into her own apartment (that will be a HUGE deal to me, because she's driving me CRAZY!!

BTW, I'm taking a drawing class too, I thought it was a painting class because I read the description wrong, but it's a drawing class. I like it, and at the end of the course we're going to be having an art show open to the public for all the participants. Me -in an art show! lol

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PATTISTAMPS 11/4/2014 1:57PM

    You are doing GREAT, Sarah, and you know that the slow loss helps your body to adjust to the new lower weight, and you are more likely to keep it off! Congrats on the job your love, and there are only 2 more months for the one you don't like! keep that Spark burning!!

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CLAIREINPARIS 10/31/2014 4:59PM

    Wow, you ARE keeping busy aren't you? my goodness, just reading your blog I started to feel a bit tired! But you sound full of energy and 'full of energy' was definitely a way I could have described you when I met you! I am really glad you have such happy prospects for 2015, especially the job that you like prospect. That's fantastic!
And congratulations for reaching 142 already, wow, I am so happy for you!

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ENDUROVET 10/28/2014 3:13PM

    Congratulations! It sounds like you are making great progress...

But man oh man, I would be SUNK if I had to live w/my MIL - it's a great thing for our relationship that she lives 5,000 mi away (across the pond in Cornwall)

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MORTICIAADDAMS 10/26/2014 9:02PM

    Congratulations on the weight loss! I hope you get the full time job. I can't imagine living with my MIL.

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BUTTONPOPPER1 10/26/2014 2:47AM

    Wow! Lots of good news here. How wonderful that you've lost so much weight! I know you must feel very good in every way! And it will be great to start your new job with the renewed confidence you must have to be looking and feeling so good. And I must say I admire you for being able to live with your MIL I'm not sure I could withstand that kind of stress, no matter how nice the MIL. I think my non-daily beer habit might become a DAILY beer habit! So I'm wishing you luck with generating enough income to allow her to live separately. That is really GENEROUS of you, I think, to devote your income to others (well okay, I understand that it's also for yourself, but it will help your entire family's happiness). Thanks for this cheerful blog full of good news, and I hope this happy streak continues!

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PENNYSAVER2 10/25/2014 7:51PM


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AQUIETPLACE 10/25/2014 10:59AM

    Great Job and Keep up the good work! You are almost there!

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REDDOTFLYER 10/25/2014 8:54AM


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SEEHOLZ 10/25/2014 8:02AM

    Congrats on your weight loss! It's always an awesome feeling to reap the benefits of your commitment and follow through!

I love to hear about your European life- I grew up right across the river from Dusseldorf (Neuss) so I hope you enjoy your time there. It's not the prettiest city in Europe, but Dusseldorf has a lot of great restaurants and dance clubs and a really fun Altstadt! (not sure how much you can enjoy a city though then you have to work!)

In the meantime, hang in there. I would prefer to work in a country where the employment law was stricter, but that's the European in me-lol.

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KALISWALKER 10/25/2014 6:25AM

    Having MIL out of my house is a big incentive to work.

Congratulations on your weight loss

Comment edited on: 10/25/2014 6:25:44 AM

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LOPEYP 10/25/2014 6:05AM


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GHOSTFLAMES 10/25/2014 6:04AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Taking care of ME

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I think I've turned a corner in respects to self-care. I'm a mom and wife and I have a part-time job, so you know how that goes. I often don't make myself a priority.

My husband works a lot and so I'm often preparing meals just for my son and myself. He's a typical 10-year-old and is not interested in vegetables at all, so I make him something simple and kid-friendly and in the end it's me, cooking for myself. The old me used to hate cooking and I'd often say "why cook just for myself? I have to do all that work and dirty all those dishes just for me?"
Well the answer is yes! And I'm doing it. The changes started with salads at lunch. There's no small effort there, I mean I have to wash and slice lettuce, peel and dice whatever else I want to eat, and then clean it all up (I guess the maid took the year off emoticon ).

It took some time to get used to that and make it a habit. Now, after a few months, it seems like second nature to look in the fridge and immediately go to the vegetable drawer to decide what to eat.
Last night, my MIL made a ragu (beef sauce) and pasta (of course). Since I'm not eating carbs in the evening, I took out a zucchini, sliced it and grilled it on the stove and ate that with the ragu over it. It was delicious, I didn't miss the carbs, and I ate an entire zucchini.
Today, at lunch, I took out and assembled the food processor and shredded up a half a head of cabbage to sautee up with last nights leftover chicken. I used to avoid that machine because of the cleaning involved, but you know what? It isn't that bad. To assemble, shred, and clean took less than ten minutes. My health is worth 10 minutes, don't you think? Now, it's simmering on the stove and I'm feeling proud of myself.

Some other ways I'm taking care of me: I ordered new tires for my car (which I normally forget about until my husband points out that I'm risking an accident). I also signed up for a painting class which starts next week, because I haven't been feeling very creative lately and I think I need some stimulation.

I'm excited about the weight I'm losing, and about the vegetables I'll be eating, and about my painting class. And, as always, I'm thankful for you, Sparkfriends! I wouldn't have stayed with the site for so long if it wasn't for you!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPROUTLET 9/28/2014 2:04PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CLAIREINPARIS 9/28/2014 8:32AM

    So encouraged to read this blog, Sarah! You are really doing great and changing your habits. Good for you!

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GETSTRONGRRR 9/25/2014 9:36PM

    Good on you! Veggies, proteins, & healthy fats....who needs carbs!

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    You are doing great! I'm a fan of veggies too. Hopefully you can turn your son on to them. Kids need to eat healthy too.

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BUTTONPOPPER1 9/25/2014 9:35AM

    It's a good thing I'd just finished eating dinner when I read this! Otherwise, I might have been in danger of doing a little illicit foraging, for your blog was so appetizing! The grilled ragu-topped zucchini sounds delicious, and the chicken-cabbage sautee sounds great, too! Like you, I don't use a lot of my equipment because I always dread the clean-up, but you're making me think it might be worth it after all. I'm so glad you're happy about the recent changes in your life!

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TERRACOTTAGE 9/25/2014 8:42AM

    Great attitude.... looking after you means being there a long time for your family. Love the Art Class idea too. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PENNYSAVER2 9/25/2014 8:03AM

    Wow, So happy for you!!! emoticon emoticon

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    This is great stuff that is going on !
More delicious vegetables & delicious food
Looking out for your own safety

That is wonderful progress!

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OSDOWNS 9/25/2014 6:16AM

    Yay you! You are taking great care of yourself!

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It's about JOY!

Friday, September 12, 2014

I love this and I wanted to share.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

INSPIREDSOUL 9/22/2014 3:48PM

    So true.

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SO_WORTH_IT 9/19/2014 12:10AM

    This is truly a great message!

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TERRACOTTAGE 9/14/2014 8:00AM

    I think this is a very healthy message for our kids to learn. emoticon

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NISSANGIRL 9/14/2014 7:18AM

    emoticon emoticon thanks for posting!

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CLAIREINPARIS 9/13/2014 2:25AM

    Love this! Thank you for sharing.

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    I love Pink!! She's great!

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    Thanks for sharing - it's a great perspective and I love PINK

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1HAPPYSPIRIT 9/12/2014 5:34PM


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STUDLEEJOE 9/12/2014 3:50PM


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ALICIA214 9/12/2014 3:17PM



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GEORGE815 9/12/2014 2:58PM

    Interesting thought of one focusing on joy!

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MOMMAPAM1 9/12/2014 2:45PM


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Walking lifts my mood

Thursday, September 11, 2014

One of the most valuable things Iíve learnt here on SP is that exercise can usually get me out of a funk. Yesterday, I needed it. I was home, bored, depressed and I needed to do something so I got my shoes on and did some walking, 8,000 steps to be exact.

I drove to a small mountain-top town nearby that I hadnít been to and explored. One of the cool things about Italy is that they try to keep their medieval architecture while incorporating the 21st century. It can lead to some cool discoveries, like this:

This is a cage that used to be used as a torture device. They would put their victim in and hang him up in the town square and people would throw things at him. I was taken aback when I rounded a corner and came upon it. Hopefully, itís used just for decoration.
Itís a little town called Mondaino that never advertises, no tourists know about it, and yet itís pretty to walk around and has a castle! Who knew?

It instantly brightens my mood to find treasures like this nearby. Add to that the endorphins from the exercise and the fresh air and I was ten times happier after.
And on the way home I came across this escapeeÖhope he got home safe!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TERRACOTTAGE 9/14/2014 8:11AM

    It's been years since my trip around the Alps, and I did enjoy N. Italy, the people and the old world charm. Walking was the way to see and enjoy the small villages. Thanks for the memories... I shall enjoy you future blogs. emoticon

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CLAIREINPARIS 9/13/2014 4:36AM

    What a lovely little town! I loved the picture with the little street and the castle at the top. I so understand what you mean about walking making you feel better. And I am glad it works for you too! emoticon

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    Loved the pictures!! The little goat was cute!!

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FORZACHANDMATT 9/11/2014 12:23PM

    Me too - isn't it great?

Beautiful pictures

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holding it together

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This is not a diet blog, this is about death, love, and personal growth. I lost someone dear to me this week. I also celebrated my anniversary, and saw friends I hadnít seen for a long time. In short, itís been an emotional roller coaster. I gained a couple of pounds, but Iím not concerned about that, Iím back on track now, and more important Iím trying to process everything Iíve been through this week.

A friend of mine died last week, on Wednesday. I hadn't seen him in about 6 years, but it really didn't change how close I felt to him. There was a period of my life where we were always together and I really treasured him. I was so sad when I got the news that he was dying, I called him in his hospital room on Tuesday but I didn't understand anything he said. Later I found out he was on a breathing tube and was heavily drugged, which explains it.

I like living in Italy, but at times like these, when I want to be physically close to someone, it's very hard.

On Thursday I spoke to some mutual friends and learned that his family was planning on lying about how he died (he died of AIDS, they wanted to say skin cancer), and that they left his partner out of the obituary completely. He had had a strained relationship with his family for years because of his orientation and his life was lived with his partner and his friends, ie. the people who loved him and accepted him. For his family to come in and try and manipulate how others remember him was, in my mind, terrible.

I went through a range of emotions from anger to sadness to protectiveness and drafted a number of wicked emails and facebook posts -NONE of which I sent. In the end I closed the computer and walked away, giving myself some time to grieve. I'm proud of this, when I was younger I'd have gotten all fired up and launched a crusade against these wicked people. What I figured out now is that they aren't wicked, they're sad, and in pain, and caught in a paradigm where they are convinced they're right and don't understand why the world is against them.

And besides, what could I do from where I am? He wasn't a man who would have fought for himself, he never made a fuss. He really was someone who loved peace and God and his family. He wanted everyone to get along and I know deep down he'd have loved to introduce his partner to his family, but he wasn't a fighter. What right did I have to become one on his behalf? I debated about this for days. In the end I didn't need to though, it all turned out well, even beautifully.

His numerous friends left lots, I mean a huge number of sweet loving tributes to my friend, his partner AND his family on his facebook page and then the funeral home guestbook. No accusations, no recriminations, just love, sympathy and acceptance. The love everyone expressed for my friend and the memories were overwhelming. I can't describe to you how amazing they were. It was powerful reading each tribute that contained memories of his partner, and of his family in the same paragraph. No one left anyone out. In doing so they effectively erased any chance the family had to marginalize his partner and his lifestyle.

They bombarded the family with love during the last 4 days, and it worked. The family spokesperson made a powerpoint of photos to play during the service yesterday and his partner was included in many of the photos. The service (officiated by his father, who is a minister) was about love. About Godís love, love for each other, all kinds of love. My friendís partner was there, the family was there, only kind words were spoken. I couldnít be there, but the people I heard from afterward said it was an amazing ceremony. That theyíve never been to a service so loving and peaceful. My friend would have been thrilled. Heíd have been thilled at the maturity of his friends, who didnít respond to ugliness with more ugliness, but who responded with love. He'd have loved to see his partner included in the powerpoint presentation played in his father's church in front of everyone. And heíd have been thrilled with his brother who, last night, wrote a long, heartfelt response to all the messages with kindness and maturity.

I know it sounds cliche, but this week I learned that love really can win some battles. And that life is short, so love each other out loud, and tell people how you feel, often.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    This was absolutely beautiful. I have tears in my eyes. I'm very sorry for your loss, but I'm so glad that you were able to witness (and share) this story.

I suppose this comment from a stranger is coming out of the blue. I should be honest and confess that I am on the prowl this evening, looking for potential members for a new writing team called Fit to Write. I'm peeking into the membership lists of established writing teams to find a particular kind of writer. I found you in the NaNoWriMo team.

I'd like to invite you to have a look at the Fit to Write team page. There, you'll find a post called "Welcome Letter" in the General Team Discussion Forum. If you are curious, give that a read and see if we might be a good match. If not, no hard feelings.

(The easiest way to get there is probably to click on my Spark Page link, scroll down to my Spark Teams, and click on Fit to Write.)

As I read your blogs, I thought to myself, "she's not talking about writing a lot, and she's awfully busy, so you should probably move on." Still, I found myself clicking on "just one more post" after another. (The whole American in Italy thing is pretty fascinating :)

When I came to this post, though, I knew I needed to send this invitation, even if you are too busy. Thank you for sharing.


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GETSTRONGRRR 8/19/2014 6:42PM

    Thanks for sharing....and sorry for the loss of your friend

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    I'm sorry about the loss of your friend. emoticon

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LAILATN 8/19/2014 12:55PM

    Lovely, heartfelt post. I am very sorry for your loss.
emoticon emoticon

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IRISHBEANERGAL 8/19/2014 12:05PM

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

What a wonderful tribute to your friend - I'm sure he'd be pleased too.

Be well.


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CLAIREINPARIS 8/19/2014 6:43AM

    Oh Sarah... I am so sorry for your loss... but so grateful for this beautiful blog which made me cry. Thank you for sharing it with us. emoticon

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    Thanks for sharing your experience. Demonstrates the power of love.
I am very sorry for your loss.

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DEW1960 8/19/2014 5:44AM


Thanks for sharing your blog post today.


May God richly bless you & your family, today and everyday!


Daniel Walker


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GHOSTFLAMES 8/19/2014 5:38AM

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