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New Strategy: "Eat Whatever You Want Day"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

See, here's the thing: The SparkPeople strategies and philosophies have worked so well for me, that I've not only met my goal and passed it, I'm still losing weight. As of my last weigh-in, I had dropped off the "healthy" lower end of every height/weight calculator I can find on the 'Net, except for one. And on that one, I'm at the rock-bottom end of their recommended range.

While I personally don't think I'm currently underweight, I would agree that I don't need to drop any MORE weight. Seeing the scale numbers drop even lower would be... bad. And I'm completely happy with where I'm at right now. If I can maintain with a "bounce factor" that keeps me between 135 and 140 for the rest of my life, I'd be one healthy and ecstatic camper.

But, despite easing my weekly calorie consumption upward for over two months now, the weight has continued to ease downward. As I'm not feeling "funny" or ill at the moment, I've currently ruled out medical problems as a possible cause. Given my past history, where I ate just about whatever I wanted and didn't gain weight (most all of my excess weight came after my daughter was born, when I started getting depressed, inactive, and ate TOTALLY stupidly), I'm considering the possibility that I'm one of those lucky people that can take in a lot of calories and pretty much burn them all off as long as I stay reasonably active. And I do stay active these days, with a minimum of 30 minutes cardio workout, plus weight training, 7 days a week -- barring insurmountable interruptions.

The daily tarot draws I've been doing for the last several weeks have continually emphasized a need to change my mindset and strategy. But I've been so terrified of gaining back any of the weight I've lost, that I haven't done much other than make the tiniest of adjustments in my SparkHabits. But I think I've finally come up with a more bold approach that might balance my newer eating and exercise habits, which I've really come to love, with my clear need for an actual intake increase. In a nutshell, here it is:

1) Increase my AVERAGE daily calorie intake to 2,000 calories per day, 6 out of 7 days per week.
2) Allow myself one "special" day per week called "Eat Whatever You Want Day", with permission to consume as many calories as I care to, without feeling one whit guilty.

Currently, my daily average has been running about 1,850 calories. SparkPeople's calculator has been recommending 1,940 as a daily "top end" consumption rate for me, with 1,590 on the lower end. So I would think that an adjustment up to a 2,000 daily calorie average -- above SparkPeople's recommendation -- should help a little.

As for the special "eat whatever, whenever" day: I am putting a "catch" into it. Yes, I will eat without minding calories or fat... BUT I will still make mostly reasonable choices, and only allow myself it eat IF I'm truly hungry. No "gee, that looks good" nibbling. I will still be eating to live, not living to eat.

So, with all of that laid out, I did give my "no limits" day a try yesterday. Here's how it went:

I ate a very reasonable breakfast, and had my usual, reasonable mid-morning snack. Next, for lunch, I had my first non-salad-based fast food meal I'd had since October of last year. I ate at Arby's, where I ordered a chicken cordon bleu sandwich, a small curly fry, and a small chocolate shake.

The sandwich wasn't too bad, calorie/fat-wise. I went for the roast chicken instead of the crispy, and I had them leave off the mayo. (I'm not a big mayo fan anyway; I don't miss it at all when it's gone.) So the sandwich was only 368 calories. The small fry was almost that much by itself, at 330 calories. The small chocolate shake (and I do mean "small" -- 10.6 oz, as opposed to the usual "regular" 14-oz or "large" 18-oz varieties) beat both the sandwich and side, coming in at 385 calories. So my whole lunch hit almost 1,100 calories. I haven't had a lunch that calorie-laden since I started on SparkPeople.

The results of this part of the experiment: it was good, but it didn't please me as much as I'd imagined it would after seven months of crossing fast food sandwiches off my list. But it WAS filling... so filling, in fact, that I didn't even want my usual mid-afternoon snack. So what I gained in calories over lunch, I made up for with less afternoon calories. Not that I needed to compensate under my "eat whatever" day strategy... but since the rule was to not eat when I wasn't hungry, I didn't.

I made dinner at home -- yummy and filling, and completely satisfying at just under 400 calories. But then, I took some fudge over to my sister (she's just out of the hospital after major surgery, and had a hankering for something decadent), and shared some bites with her. I didn't eat a lot, but by my rough calculations, with no nutrition info on the package to go by, and an assumption that it was truly the "good stuff", I calculated that I consumed 400 calories pretty quickly there.

Later, back at home, I was feeling a little peckish, so I had some chips and salsa -- that ran me about 150 calories.

Finally, we went to a late movie in the evening, and I let myself have an entire pack of Junior Mints, which ran me another 340 calories. After the movie, I most definitely was NOT hungry, so I skipped my usual bedtime snack... and I usually look so forward to that.

So, the final total intake for the day was: 2,733 calories, 81 grams of fat.

This morning, I was able to sleep a little later, and when I woke up, I wasn't the least bit hungry. I'm starting to feel hungry at last now, but it's almost noon, so it's time for lunch. So yesterday's experiment has already impacted a "normal" day for me, by resulting in my skipping of breakfast.

In any case, my first try at this new idea resulted in several interesting conclusions:

- Fast food is OK, but it isn't nearly as appealing as it used to be.
- As much as I love chocolate, I actually do apparently have a limit now as to how much I really want to eat. I haven't denied myself chocolate since I started on SparkPeople, but I've cut back a LOT, and I really felt like I was still sort of missing the indulgence. However, most of my "splurges" yesterday were chocolate-based, and by bedtime, I wasn't really feeling all that whippy. Since chocolate has always been my biggest downfall, it's kind of an interesting relief to learn that for maximum enjoyment, I actually DON'T want to be throwing myself face-first into giant vats of fudge and chocolate sauce from here on out.
- Depending on how things go today, I may discover that having a guilt-free "splurge" day may not offset my calorie deficit, because if I don't feel like eating very much the next day, I could be back where I started.

Well... that's my story. It's not over, but a new phase has definitely begun. I'll reassess again in a few weeks... see how I feel, how the cards flip, and what the scale and tape measure say. At this point, there's nothing wrong with giving something new a try, eh?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEESLIM 6/15/2010 9:46AM

  Wow, congratulations. I can't wait to be where you are....I envisage that when I reach my goal, my biggest challenge will be to stop losing, as I love exercise and I'm already struggling to eat my recommended 1500 calories/day....

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SEAGLASSQUEEN 2/8/2010 10:29AM

    You will figure it out. Congratulations.

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ARIELBE 8/16/2009 9:37PM



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MBTHOMPSON 5/28/2009 11:13PM

    Have you tried Jan's suggestions of 2000 cals per day and take a day off from exercise? If that's not working then maybe you should increase your calorie intake to 2100 and see how you fare after one week? Also - keep the "eat anything" day.
Or maybe your metabolism has changed? Have you checked that out? Maybe there's a combination (formula) that would work better for you such as increasing carbs and fat or protein.
Are you doing strengthening exercises EVERY day? Cut back to every OTHER day for your strengthening/weight training. It's recommended to have at least one day rest between these sessions. (The cardio is OK every day, though.) Maybe that's part of your "formula" that needs to change?

Good luck! I'll keep trying to think of other ideas to try.....

= Mary T.

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JANLEEW 5/19/2009 12:37PM

    Fantastic! Another option is to stay at about 2000 calories a day, have an anthing day but healthy anthing and exercise 6 days a week. Take a day off. Worth a try.

Your success and determination are outstanding. Congratulations.


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FIREFROST 5/18/2009 5:27AM

    When I reached my goal, my Sureslim guide told me to eat as I had been to lose the weight during the week, and at the weekends eat pretty much anything I want to.

I've found this works, and believe me I have a sweet tooth to match/beat anyone else I've ever known!

One of my biggest lessons has been self-discipline.

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SHARONMW1 5/17/2009 4:09PM

    Hi Jeanette,

It's a well thought out plan and a realistic one as well. Hope it goes well and look forward to hearing how it goes over the next few weeks.


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SHARYN/AJ 5/16/2009 3:24PM

    Good solid thoughts Jeannette. I remember the first time I hit my WW goal and learned about maintenance. I looked agog at my leader and said "we're supposed to eat MORE?". She laughed and said yes, if you keep going at a losing weight calorie intake you'll eventually disappear. She was kidding about the disappearing, we'd probably all top out at about 87 pounds :)

I don't know that there are any studies on it but I think the phenomenon of continuing to lose is closely related to the weird plateaus we hit even when clicking on all cylinders on program. I know you are a smart lady and will figure out your balancing point. I'm so proud of you for not eating your brains out during the last 2-3 weeks.
Hugs, Sharyn

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IAFARMERWIFE 5/16/2009 2:06PM

    I loved reading your blog! Interesting how we have changed our eating since joining SP. What tasted so good before, isn't that important now.
I have also started something new, I'm trying quinoa. I just bought it this morning, so I don't know what it's like yet.
But the key is, we have learned and we are applying it to our lives.

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"Cleansing Reading" Challenge: A Long-Winded Look at Where I'm At, and Where I'm Headed

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our SparkTarot! team tarot challenge for the Week of 12 April 2009 has been to perform a "cleansing reading" for ourselves – that is, to spread the cards and use the images presented to reflect on where we've been, where we're at, and where we want to be in our lifejourneys toward better fitness and health. The challenge requests that we give special attention to obstacles and unproductive thinking/habits that may be slowing or complicating our efforts.

As I am currently at my goal weight, the direction from which I've approached this challenge is somewhat different than it would have been six months ago. I'm no longer actively pursuing weight loss, because I'm now rated at a healthy weight for my height (6' 0"). However, since reaching my goal on 5 March 2009, I've continued to shed pounds. And while I'm not yet BELOW a healthy weight, I'm getting close to that point.

Even before spreading the cards, I know exactly why the scale numbers continue to drop. In brief: after all the effort I've put into revamping my lifestyle, I'm terrified of backsliding, and regaining even a single pound of what I've lost. So, while I've modified my habits somewhat (and admittedly, my weight loss has slowed), I haven't yet truly given myself permission to relax and enjoy my accomplishments. Thus, for me, the question becomes: what's it going to take to get me to begin trusting myself, and trusting that I'll continue to do the right thing for my long-term weight and health?

I selected a rather complicated spread for this reading – but a spread that is very fluid, allowing me to approach the issue from many different angles, and observe how the complex, interrelated factors truly contribute to the whole of the problem... and the solution. The illustration below shows the spread, and the cards I pulled for each position. I like to read with reversals, so the (u) and (r) codes after each card name stand for "upright" and "reversed". The spread itself is laid out in the shape of the Qabbalistc Tree-of-Life, with each of ten cards assigned to the positions of the ten sephiroth.


The spread is not dominated by any particular suit or number. There are three Major Arcana cards, two Wands, two Cups, two Swords, and one Pentacle card. The suited cards include five pips and two courts; no values are repeated. I find it interesting, however, that all of the Major Arcana cards I drew (Strength, Hermit, Chariot) came up reversed. Furthermore, using the Waite-Smith ordering, the Majors are numerically "clumped" – cards 8, 9, and 7 respectively. The overall mix leads me to posit that where I'm at is the result of a variety of factors, not heavily weighted toward one or another. But the reversed clump of majors suggests that I may be stuck in a particular phase of my journey right now. Further analysis should help me to figure out what phase that is, and how to get moving forward again.


The top three cards of the spread describe the motivating and formative elements of my situation. At the source of all is the Strength card, in reversed orientation. Unquestionably, finding the strength to do what needed to be done was the catalyst for my long-overdue weight loss journey. I had it within me, and I finally unleashed that strength, and made it work for me. However, there can come a point when strength becomes stubbornness – and the reversed orientation of the card here suggests that I've taken that inner resolve one step too far at this point.

Of course, there's the momentum to consider. I've been throwing myself into the task at hand for the last six months, rushing headlong at every challenge. Once you build up that much speed, you can't just stop on a dime (not without risking serious injury, at any rate). The King of Wands card – fire of fire, in a fiery position atop the right tree pillar – reflects the tremendous energy I've poured into this project. It appears to be focused on my weight loss goals still – but perhaps it's time to allow some of that energy to be redirected to other endeavors.

And then, there's the form in which this stubborn, single-minded effort has manifested – The Hermit, reversed. My "phase one" weight-loss work – the efforts begun in 2007, and in the process of becoming for naught in 2008 when my sister thankfully introduced me to SparkPeople – was undertaken largely on my own, without seeking input, approval, or support from anyone. (Not that anyone DISapproved of my efforts... but I didn't ask for help, run my plans by anyone, or worry about what anyone else thought about how I was going about things.)

Phase two – my "SparkPhase" – has, of course, been carried out largely within the context of the SparkPeople community. The reversed Hermit represents my "coming out of my shell", and allowing myself to find motivation by traveling this path with others. The results have been staggeringly successful, and there are few words to express the depth of my joy, pride, and appreciation. But I have to ask myself: at what point does the plan start to overshadow the goal? Can I not step back now, and allow myself to simply be satisfied with my accomplishments? This spread suggests that my aforementioned stubbornness and momentum are no longer my allies, as they are pushing me farther along in a particular SparkPlan that no longer has relevance in my current situation.


These center cards represent, to me, the specifics of the life I've been trying to build for myself over the past two years. On the right, in the center of the so-named "Pillar of Mercy", sits the Three of Cups, upright. Here, I see my efforts to bring joy back into my life after suffering from undiagnosed depression for several years. While, upon reflection, I can identify several factors that brought me to the brink of initiating the life changes I so desperately needed to make, I can't say for sure what finally triggered the actual beginning of my efforts on that morning when I sat up in bed and said to myself, "enough is enough!" Nonetheless, this is an extremely important card for me. After doing a reasonably admirable job of pulling myself out of my "funk" through diet, exercise, and affirmation (and avoiding pharmaceutical solutions, which scare the beejeepers out of me), I unexpectedly and upsettingly slipped back into my old mindset for a while last summer. It was a jarring lesson that I should not become so complacent as to believe once the problem is solved, it is solved forever. Whatever I decide to do, vigilance is a necessary component of the process.

Across the tree, in the middle of the "Pillar of Severity", sits the Queen of Cups. This is perhaps the most puzzling card in the whole spread. I've always identified pretty strongly with the Cup Queen – it was perhaps my favorite card in the whole deck at one point. In its current location, however, there is a strong suggestion that my water-on-water tendencies (sidenote: I'm also a Pisces, BTW) are currently not the most beneficial personality traits I have to be drawing upon.

Admittedly, in the past, I've had somewhat of a bent toward being a "drama queen" at times. But having recognized those inclinations in myself some time ago, I think I've made admirable strides toward mediating their expression (if not quite conquering them entirely). So where does that leave me? The sephirah associated with this position, Geburah, indicates something that I should be clearing out of my life in order to move forward. (Alternatively, it could be indicating something that I'm wrongly clearing, and need to keep – but my gut is telling me that in this reading, it's the former.) About the best I can come up with is that it's time to push aside the emotional issues that remain (in this case, fear of backsliding), and allow my intellect more of a free rein to guide me at the moment.

In the middle of it all is the Eight of Swords. Eight of the other nine cards in the spread feed into this nexus in one manner or another. The message is clear: it all adds up to an over-restrictiveness that is at the heart of my dilemma. It's not much of a revelation, but it is an important confirmation of my current beliefs. What's important is deciphering how the other factors contribute to this central difficulty... and what do to about it.


Now we get into what's actually coming through, to manifest on the surface. It begins with that upside down Chariot at the bottom of the right column. In the reversed orientation, I'm looking at the Chariot's power to drive, direct, and get things done... NOT! Emotional higglety-pigglety definitely reins. It's not so much a matter of "highs" and "lows" as it is the allowing of my feelings at any given moment to take control. The result is a sort of emotionally-driven version of ADD, with fleeting whims, instead of useful goals, taking up too much of my time.

It would be more productive to allow my intellect to focus my energy (and there's undeniably plenty of energy coming down from the King of Wands at the top of that same column) on a limited number of the most important tasks. But I don't do that; I flit from one project to another, never fully accomplishing anything, with the exception of that reversed-Strength stubbornness continually driving me in the direction of my fears. This feeds my restrictive Eight of Swords center further, through poor planning that leads to a later limitation of choices.

Balancing this – if you can call it balance – is the Nine of Wands, reversed. Although I tend to fancy myself to be an intellectual – and there's no question that I often tend to over-think a situation – the truth expressed here is that at the moment, I'm allowing my gut to dominate my head. There are times when that should be the case. However, glancing once more at that central Eight of Swords, I think it's pretty clear that right now, this is not one of those times. My strength right now – my REAL strength, as opposed to the pig-headed variety from whence my current behaviors arise – should be coming from dealing with facts and realities, not outdated or imagined scenarios that won't, in the long run, serve my best interests.

Interestingly, these two cards feed further downward into the Ace of Pentacles, which appears upright. Not a bad card at all to manifest in this position, since the Pentacle Ace is a font for the components of earthly success. And indeed, I'm enjoying success on many levels at the moment. This provides a reminder that the factors highlighted in this reading are not bad in-and-of-themselves. In fact, the truth is just the opposite: they've been essential to my progress thus far. However, what works in one situation does not necessarily work in all situations. Intellectually, I know it's time for a change if I want to continue seeing success. But this reading underscores the idea that I'm continuing to allow emotional components to retain the "upper hand". It's strange to consider the possibility that success can bring limitations with it – but sometimes it does, and it's time I recognize and acknowledge that fact if I'm going to move forward.


So, how is all of this visibly manifesting in my life right now? It would seem that my obsession with my health and weight-loss goals is potentially interfering with the process of moving on and fully living my life. I did what I needed to do; I enjoyed it, and I'm proud of what I've accomplished. But I need to acknowledge that "phase two" has now ended, and a "phase three" needs to begin. Until I can embrace that fact, any other projects that I try to undertake will suffer from lack of focus and incompletion.

The Golden Dawn title for this card is "Lord of Unstable Effort" — an expression of how I am currently allowing my fears to interfere with the further success I'm clearly capable of achieving.


I am so very blessed to have the friends and resources I've needed to make important changes in my life – changes that have definitely been for the better, and have made me a better person than I've been in years. While my overall interpretational tone for this reading may seem a tad on the pessimistic side, the truth is that I'm fine and dandy and doing quite well. Just to wake up every the morning feeling like I want to embrace the day, instead of dreading it, gives me reason enough to be happy and content.

However, as I think this reading confirms, complacency is not necessarily a healthy attitude in the long run. It's important to periodically reassess, especially when new factors enter the picture. I look at this reading as a reassessment – the first I've fully verbalized since reaching my goal weight last month. Trouble is not yet here, but if I'm not attentive to the signs, it could be just over the horizon. Better to anticipate and plan than to wait until the universe "forces" action upon you. The time has come to trust my intellect, and not rely on emotional factors that, while very productive in motivating me toward one goal, will not be so useful for moving me into my next stage.

To that end, I'll be continuing my maintenance work, but perhaps making some more aggressive changes than I have over the past month. I'll also be trying to reanalyze my priorities, and begin the process of "redistributing" my energy among my various projects accordingly. Furthermore, while I have no plans to leave the SparkFold, I do think I may now need to put less reliance on the tools here that were so beneficial to my during my weight loss phase, and instead find tools more compatible with my long-term maintenance lifestyle. (I'm sure I can find them – I just need to overcome my fears and take the blinders off first.)

This is an extremely exciting time for me – I only hope I can find the wisdom to let go of the past, and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHARYN/AJ 4/20/2009 2:44PM

    Thanks for sharing. We are never finished with the journey, but our routes and modes will change all the time. Most of us regain because we think when the weight is off we are finished with the work. That is really just the start.

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SHARONMW1 4/19/2009 6:18AM

    Hi Jeanette,

A great reading - very thorough and so don't say that you're no good at reading the cards anymore on the sparkTarot team.

Just a thought based on the Queen of Cups in Geburah if you don't mind my chipping in -
If you take the fact it's water and water - it's reflecting and mirroring and so i'm just wondering if somewhere deep inside -when you reflect and look in that mirror, do you still see yourself as bigger than you are and not quite recognised the true you as you are now?

It may be time to look at it, and kick that subconscious rein into touch?


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FIREFROST 4/19/2009 4:32AM

    Wow - this is quite a reading, Jeannette. I'd "say you don't do things by halves, do you?!", but we already know that by the way you tenaciously look after us here!
(Thank goodness!)

It'll take my reading it a few times for it to really sink in, (I'm going to print it out) and intellectual is one thing I'm NOT, but I do see where you're coming from with it and yes, as you put in your feedback to me, you and I are in the same position.

I like how you put that curing the problem doesn't mean that you can forget about it forever, because as you say, if we're not careful, the problem will rear its ugly head again.

When I reached my target, Ann, who runs SureSlim told me to just try to up my calorie intake slightly at first, so I could find out exactly where the balance was without going crazy in the opposite direction. She also told me that the ones who had reached their targets in the past often kept within range by eating carefully through the week and so not having to worry about going out and overeating at the weekends. This will work brilliantly for me!

Thank you for a great reading and goog insights.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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My Vision Collage (SparkTarot! Weekly Challenge)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

This week, our SparkTarot! team weekly tarot challenge has been to do SparkPeople's vision collage project -- tarot style. The vision collage is intended to be an inspirational, motivational compilations of images. This is what I came up with:

A numbered diagram of the parts of the collage appears below, followed by an explanation of the pieces I selected, and why:

1 - "The Devil" card from i Tarocchi di Gambedotti. There are two Gambedotti tarots (by the same artist, of course -- Mario Gambedotti). The deck this image is taken from is sometimes referred to as the "Gambedotti Gourmet" tarot. It was a commissioned project by Club della Buona Carta -- a European Diner's Card equivalent. Although it's not visible here, this devil fellow is standing over a large plate of spaghetti. He represents the power we wrongly allow food to have over us.

2 - "The Fool" card from the Linweave Tarot. The Fool represents innocence and beginnings. Babies eat healthy mother's milk -- and only because they are hungry, and the food nourishes their bodies. To rid ourselves of our addiction to food, we must return to the simplicity of eating healthy food, and doing so primarily to satisfy our hunger. Although I pushed the image too far to the side for it to be apparent, the Fool's left hand is upraised, with the middle and ring fingers folded down. This is sign language shorthand for the phrase "I love you". We must remember to love ourselves, so that we will want to take care of our bodies and our spirit.

3 - "Justice" from "Leonardo da Vinci Tarot" by Iassen Ghiuselev. Justice reminds us that we reap what we sow. If we do not take care of ourselves properly, we will suffer the consequences of illness and negativity. I like this particular Justice card because here, the avatar of Justice holds up a mirror where we can see our own reflection. Her mirror is brutally honest; when we look at ourselves, we can only see the truth, and we know if we have done rightly or wrongly.

4 - "Temperance" from Tarot of the Lepidopteran People by Lynyrd Narciso. Temperance reminds us that the key to success is all things in balance. The balancing process is ongoing; we must continually reevaluate and adjust to achieve the proper results. There's no particular reason why I chose this Temperance card over others I could have selected, other than I just think it's very pretty. But I did purposely put the image near the center, very large and dominating, because for purposes of living a healthy, happy life, I think Temperance is the true key.

5 - "The Hierophant" (Taliesin) from the Arthurian Tarot by John and Caitlin Matthews. This is one of my favorite tarot cards of all time; I named my son after it (Taliesin, not Hierophant, LOL!). The Hierophant is the keeper of tradition. He passes wisdom on to those who follow. In the picture, two ribbons emerge from behind Taliesin's chair, pass through his hands, and into the hands of the children seated at his feet. The ribbons represent tradition and history. This knowledge predates the Hierophant, but the Hierophant has become its keeper, and he has accepted the responsibility to transmit it to the next generation. In the context of the SparkPeople community, this to me represents the responsibility of those of us who have succeeded in the early part of our journeys to remain and help those who follow.

6 - "The Magician" (The Cook) from i Tarocchi di Buongustaio by Cosimo Musio and Edoardo Ballone. The Magican takes control of his environment to ensure his personal success. In the kitchen, the cook controls all aspects of food preparation. It is our responsibility to take control of what we put into our mouths. The Magician / Cook reminds us that yes, we have this power. We can do it!

7 - "The Sun" from the Lunatic Tarot by Evan Yi Feng. See note for item #10 below.

8 - "Ace of Cups" from i Tarocchi di Gambedotti ("Gambedotti Gourmet"). Another card from the same deck as the Devil card above. Here, the ace cup is filled with delicious foods that nourish the body - healthy fruits and grains. The Ace of Cups is a font from which happiness flows; this card reminds us that we can eat food that is good for us, and enjoy it!

9 - "Strength" from The Witches' Tarot by Ellen Cannon Reed. Sometimes, we make mistakes. We stumble and fall. Strength reminds us that we have the power to get back up again, and to master that which threatens to control us. This is a common contemporary execution of the Strength symbolism; the woman has tamed the fierce lion, and now it serves her rather than threatening to devour her. This tells us that addictions -- to food, or anything else, for that matter -- do not have to have power over us. With will, perserverance, and faith, we have the ability to master the beast inside, and tame it.

10 - "The Sun" from the Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti. This card, along with card #7 above, represent the achievements we will accomplish if we learn the lessons of the other cards. At the risk of sounding a tad melodramatic, the Sun tells us that the scales shall fall from our eyes, and we shall see things as they truly are. When that happens, we will know there is nothing that we cannot do. Even when all seems darkest, there is light at the end of the journey; there is hope. We need only to keep walking toward the Sun, and eventually, we will come to see the glory that shines all around us.

So -- project completed. I'm going to go claim my 10 SparkPoints now, whee!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROJONES 5/7/2010 7:44PM

    WOW! This was fabulous -- thanks so much for sharing!

He that hath and ear, let him hear. . .
Walk in the light, as He is in the light . .


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CHANAHLIORA 4/2/2009 6:54PM

    Wow! This is really great. You put so much thought and care into. It is impressive. Thank you so much for sharing this. Was it difficult to do? How long did it take you? It is so well done! emoticon emoticon

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SHARYN/AJ 4/2/2009 5:59PM

    SuperDuper! A+

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AAQUWAA 4/2/2009 5:09PM

    Thats gorgeous Jeanette! emoticonCarmen

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MIMERS66 4/2/2009 4:40PM

    Great job Jeanette! Now I will have to do this. Perhaps next week. Thank you for sharing!

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MARGO1966 4/2/2009 4:27PM

    How wonderful!!! Thanks so much for sharing your work and your insights!

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Jeannette's Restaurant Rant -- Where's the Nutritional Info?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

To be honest, I'm not much of a blogger. But this week, on the private SparkTeam I belong to, the challenge is to create a blog entry on some aspect of your SparkPeople experience. And, since I was the one who set up the challenge, I guess I'd better take the time to participate in it before the week is out, LOL!

Seriously, though, I've been trying to think what's been on my mind, health-wise, recently. And the topic that keeps popping into my little brain is the issue of eating out.

You see, I used to eat out a LOT. I still do, really, although eating out all the time is no longer my preference, as it used to be. One of the habits I've developed since joining SparkPeople – a habit I've discovered I REALLY like – is having control of every ingredient that goes into my mouth. Which is not to say that everything I put in my mouth is actually GOOD for me. I'm an avowed chocoholic, for one thing, and I'm not inclined to give up that addiction entirely. (I've certainly moderated it substantially, however.)

But the point is that when I'm at home, I KNOW what I'm eating. At least I think I do, more or less. I know more, at any rate, compared to what I knew about what I was consuming before (which was practically nothing). I read the labels, track my meals, and attempt to adjust as needed. I eat more "real" fruits and veggies than I used to. I make better choices on the grain products I consume.

But I can't eat at home all the time, it seems. Between social and family get-togethers and obligations, I still often eat at restaurants several times a week. Since I've gotten very good at portion control, it's not a huge problem at one level. I just eat until I'm full, and I take the rest home. I can usually get two, and sometimes three or four, "leftovers" meals out of one restaurant entree serving. Because I usually do consume the leftovers eventually, eating out is actually a lot more economical than it used to be. While I think restaurants should offer more "half portion" options on their menus (especially since a "half portion" is really a full portion, and a full portion is often just a plain ridiculous amount of food for one meal), I can live with the leftovers if that's the only choice.

BUT – therein lies the rub. Choice. Or, more specifically stated, informed choice. And I'm not getting the opportunity to make informed choices at a lot of these restaurants. Ask for a nutritional info summary sheet at TGI Friday's or Applebee's, and you're lucky if you get anything more than a confused, blank stare from your server. Go to a restaurant's company website, and, if you're lucky, they'll provide a little bit of info on their "healthy" (in quotes; that's "healthy" relative to their other menu items) selections. But many times, you can't find any nutritional information at all.

Now, I haven't turned into one of those "food police" types. I really don't care what restaurants put into their food. I think restaurants should have the right to serve whatever unhealthy crap they want. But by the same token, customers should have the right to full disclosure regarding the ingredients and nutritional value of the meals being offered. If, once they have that information, they choose to go ahead and consume the food anyway, well... it may not be a wise choice, but that's their decision, and their business. The restaurant's obligation ends there.

HOWEVER – if a restaurant doesn't make that information readily available upon request, or worse – absolutely REFUSES to disclose it, then, as a person who DOES care what goes into my mouth, I have a real gripe. And unfortunately, I'm discovering most restaurants are in this latter category.

It's ironic that the folks at McDonald's – often considered the epitome of unhealthy eating, though they do offer some tasty, reasonably healthy salads – practically go out of their way to provide the nutritional details of their food. Granted, it's required by law for fast food chains now, but McDonald's doesn't try to bury that information. It's right out there, everywhere – on their website, on flyers in their restaurants, close at hand to employees if you ask for it at the register. Wendy's is equally as good. The last Wendy's I went to displayed the nutritional info for everything they serve on a large, easily accessible wall poster.

But just try to get information on the calories, fat, etc. in any Perkins dish. Good luck. As I've already mentioned, Applebee's is almost snotty about the question. Go to their website, and if you look REALLY hard, eventually you MIGHT find this one-and-only statement:

"We provide Weight Watchers Pointsฎ values on all of our Weight Watchersฎ items. We do not provide nutritional information on other Applebee'sฎ items, except where required by law."

I'm sorry, but that just doesn't cut it. I'll be taking my business elsewhere from now on, thank you very much.

I guess what frustrates me is why this should be so hard for a company that's in the food business. A few seem to use the excuse that their ingredients are "trade secrets" – but at the very least, information needs to be provided on known allergens, such as peanuts, which are actually life-threatening for some folks. And what's wrong with saying how many calories, fat, sodium, and carbs are in something? Does that little USDA "nutrition facts" box really reveal some huge secret to a restaurant's competitors? You can't help but think that the real problem is that these companies know that if they disclosed that information, a lot of people would find out how awful their food is, and stop eating it.

Which is sad, because it doesn't have to be this way. As an example: I just happened to eat at the local Jason's Deli tonight – and it was wonderful. There was 100% detailed, complete nutritional information on their website. They offer a number of healthy options, including organic selections on their salad bar. They've completely eliminated trans fats and MSG from all their offerings, and they've just about got all the high fructose corn syrup out of everything, too (except for the name-brand pop at the soda fountain). And gee, guess what – the food still tastes really good! I walked away a happy, satisfied customer who would recommend their establishment to anyone.

I'd stop eating out at certain restaurants all together if I could. But unfortunately, in family or group situations, I can't dictate the restaurant selection for everyone every time. And I'm not quite ready to become a social pariah over this issue. I figure a plain garden salad with just a touch of lo-cal dressing is a fairly safe bet at most places (but only a garden salad – specialty salads sometimes have more calories in them than a big ol' steak, I've learned). Or perhaps a cup of chili. But it's just plain frustrating to not know what other choices I MIGHT have.

I dunno. Maybe I just need to chill. But I've worked hard to develop the improved eating habits endorsed by our current culture. So it sure seems like a paradox that that same culture can't provide the information necessary to put those habits into regular practice.

OK, rant ended. Blog entry ended. (After more than two pages... now y'all see why I don't blog very often, LOL!)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KMEIDING 3/30/2009 4:54PM

    Yeah I wish more places had nutrition facts. I also eat out a lot when I am with family. Yesterday I went to a local restaurant for lunch and Burger King for supper. I swear they could eat Burger King at every meal for a week. I actually hardly ate enough calories yesterday because I didn't eat anything between lunch and supper.

I also tend to want to eat out more because I live 40 minutes from where I work. When I move in a month, I will probably feel like cooking more.

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MBTHOMPSON 3/28/2009 11:32AM

    Excellent blog, Jeannette! I'm totally in agreement. We tend to eat out TOO MUCH for the convenience - for several reasons:
1. I tend to not know what I'm hungry for until I'm hungry (bad for someone trying to lose weight, of course) so planning ahead is a difficult thing for me.
2. Living in the country 10 or 15 miles from ANY store means I'm not going to just "pop out" and get the ingredients I need. (That may not seem like a "big thing" for someone living in a large city but it IS to me). Because of this I also tend to go to the grocery after work TOO often and so I'm hungry when I go! Bet you can figure out what that means to my grocery bills and to my choices!
3. I'm also an emotional eater, so that affects my timing, choices, temptations, etc.
4. Since we don't get home after work until 6:30 or 7:00 at night, and I'm now very tired from working all day (and probably added shopping at HyVee as well), wanting to spend another 30, 45, or 60 minutes creating a decent, delicious meal, then sitting down to eat it, knowing I still have laundry to do and dishes and making sure kids are getting their homework done and spending quality time with my family and I'm just wanting to RELAX...........I could go on & on & on.........So obtaining convenient, time-saving food is a big thing for me. I do tend to buy prepackaged, and/or frozen selections to save time so that does help. If I ever have to go on a low sodium diet, I'd be in BIG trouble with those, though.

Seems I'm rambling so that's my take on eating out.........

Hope I didn't bore you too much with my whining........

- Mary T.

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FUZZYTAROT 3/28/2009 5:45AM

    RIGHT ON ! Though to be honest, we eat out so rarely (SO is following what I do - he pretty much has to, as I mostly cook....) that we regard it as a whoops slipped up there on principle. Kudos - improbably - to McDonalds ! But I THINK the UK government is about to require at least some of this info on menus. This may be a police state these days - but sometimes it's useful !

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CHISKA 3/28/2009 12:28AM


Well said. I understand your frustration. I totally miss going out to eat. People should be able to go out and eat and enjoy a meal that isn't a complete mystery! They don't need to disclose proprietary spice combinations and what not, but maybe letting lose with fat and salt content would show the world that their food can't stand on its own without those things!

You shouldn't "chill." You should be angry and you should speak out. We, in the Celiac Community, have been speaking out for years and all we get is, "Gee, don't eat here!" But if we all push for full disclosure from restaurants, the more power we will have to affect change! I have been out to eat at a restaurant ONCE since December 2001. I really miss it, but if they aren't going to tell us the nutrition content of the food, they sure aren't going to tell us what's in it, either!


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JANLEEW 3/28/2009 12:25AM

    Well now. That was a fabulous rant. For as long as I care to remember I have chosen salads at most restaurants as the only alternative! Yes I too eat in more than out these days. Of course I work late so Dan does most of the cooking.

What do places like Applebees fear? Bad press? Someday the likes of us will pressure the slackers to post the information.


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My SparkPeople Story (Moved from My SparkPage to My Blog)

Friday, February 20, 2009

I posted the story below on my personal SparkPage on 5 February 2009. But as the story is very close to changing (or rather, moving into the next chapter), I decided to move this text into a blog entry. I expect I'll be changing my SparkPage introduction fairly soon...
OK, so... I used to just have my goals listed under the "My Goals" section, on the right side of this page. But the story has gotten too long and complicated... so I'm moving it up to my introduction text, and telling the whole tale. ^_^

Once... a long time ago... I was one of those disgustingly thin people who could eat anything and everything, and not gain an ounce. All that changed at age 33, when my son was born. I ended up with a net gain of 10 lbs. after the pregnancy, which still left me pretty thin for my height (6'0"), so I didn't worry about it.

But four-and-a-half years later, after my daughter was born, I'd gained another 15 lbs. And after that, the scale just kept climbing. Between 1998 and 2007, I gained 50 lbs. Not good.

I finally managed to get motivated to get some of the weight back off in April 2007. My goal was to take off 35 lbs. by the end of that year. I managed to get 30 lbs. off by October, then decided to "take it easy" through the holiday season, and get "back on the wagon" at the beginning of 2008...

...Well, y'all know how that goes. Fortunately, I stayed pretty stable during the first half of 2008. But then the scale started climbing again.

By the time I saw five lbs. had crept "permanently" back onto the scale reading, I knew it was time to get serious again. That's when my sister (and bestest SparkBuddy) told me about SparkPeople. What a blessing that was!

So, in mid-October 2008, I started my "lifestyle change" program. The first goal was to lose 10 lbs. by the end of the year. That would put me at the total of 35 lbs. lost that I had originally targeted for the end of 2007.

Thanks to the motivation I received from the SparkPeople community, I hit the 10 lb. goal 4 weeks early! I then decided I could get the rest of those 50 lbs. off permanently, and resolved to make it a goal for 2009 to make those last 15 pounds disappear... forever! I decided to target March 31st as the date to hit the first 5-lbs. lost mark, July 31st for the second 5 pounds, and November 30 for the last 5-lbs.

But once again, thanks to the amazing motivational environment here at SparkPeople, I hit my March 31st goal before 2008 was even over! When I stepped on the scale on December 31st, 2008, those five pounds were gone-gone-gone! And they're fast fading into history...

I left the "deadline" for the second five pounds at July 31st, 2009. But as of this writing -- February 5, 2009 -- I'm happy to report that the second five pounds have now been shed as well. So that leaves me 8+ months to get rid of the last five pounds. Not that I plan to stop trying my best... with luck, I should be waving goodbye to those last five pounds well before the end of November.

Thanks, sis! Thanks, friends! Thanks, SparkPeople. I'm grateful for all your support, and I've never felt better!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIREFROST 3/10/2009 7:23AM

    Very inspirational, Jeannette. Thanks for sharing your story. emoticon

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CHELLECAT 2/20/2009 3:08PM

  Congrats!!! :]

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