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The Fat Trap

Monday, January 02, 2012

DDOORN sent me a link to an amazing article in a recent New York Times Sunday Magazine setting out current research into weight loss "recividism" . . . a topic dear to the hearts of many of us.

Well, I'm choosing to characterize it as "amazing" rather than overwhelming. And "dear" to our hearts rather than devastating!!

But you'll have to make up your own mind!! Here's the link:


The article also has a slide show illustrating the weight loss history of a couple who track everything they eat and exercise vigorously pretty much every day. And despite all of that, have not been able to keep their weight loss at the level they would prefer. Although they are maintaining at very substantially less than their prior obese weight levels.

So: what's the take away?

Yes, it's true. It may be hard to lose weight. But it really IS harder to maintain weight loss. So hard that most people don't do it.

And yeah: those of us who have lost substantial amounts of weight really do struggle with how very difficult it is to keep it off. We're not just imagining it. We're not just making excuses for ourselves. That's because there really is a measurable biological tendency -- both metabolic and hormonal -- to put it all back on again. The measurable biological tendency is the reason the article is called "The Fat Trap".

Even a year after weight loss, we produce measurably more ghrelin -- the hormone that makes you feel hungry -- and measurably less leptin-- the hormone that suppresses appetite -- than an "average" person who has never been obese.

It really is as if our bodies are trying desperately to return to their previous weight. Our post-dieting bodies morph into a biologically-altered state. And that tendency to regain weight is sustained for quite a long period of time . . . years, maybe six years or even longer.

Moreover, this new research indicates that those of us who have been obese will regain weight eating fewer calories than those who have never been obese. The change isn't just hormonal, it's metabolic too. That's why never-obese people may be able to eat 300 ++ more calories a day than formerly-obese people can eat, without gaining weight. In addition, a formerly-obese person probably burns fewer calories per minute of any given exercise than a person who has never been obese. DOUBLE WHAMMY!!

So my somewhat cranky perception that I'm hungrier than other people, that I have less will-power than other people, that I simply can't eat as much as other people eat AND that I have to exercise more than other people have to exercise so maintain the same "average weight: there's now some scientific support for all of those perceptions.

Which means it really does take eternal vigilance to maintain weight loss. I've gotta be prepared to treat hunger as something less than an emergency. I've gotta be prepared to re-arrange my environment to avoid temptation. I've gotta eat less than the 1800 calories a day an "average" woman of my height and weight could eat, and I've gotta move more.


It's not going to stop any time soon.

And perhaps means that the best strategy would be never to have permitted myself to have become obese in the first place.

Well, that train has left the station. I was obese. Haven't been obese for almost a decade, but I still want to eat too much. And not move enough. Every day.

Is all of this too discouraging? Should I give up right now?

No. That's my hormonal and metabolic reality. I'm stuck with it. I can't change it, perhaps. But I can manage it.

I used to smoke, too. No cigarettes for more than 30 years -- not one -- but I still feel like smoking most days. However, I know that smoking is a craving I can manage. Because I have managed it.

I can also manage the desire to eat more than I am able to eat without gaining weight. Even if that means eating less than "normal" weight people can eat. I can tolerate some hunger. Because: I would rather be hungry than fat.

There it is.

Don't like it particularly.

But: oh well.

And thank you DDORN -- Don -- for sharing this article with me!! It's comforting, anyhow, to know that I'm not crazy. This weight maintenance thing really does demand the kind of OCD energy and attention I have been devoting to it.

But given the alternative . . . uncomfortably excess weight, all the health consequences that go with excess weight: no question. For me it is worth it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VALERIEMAHA 1/10/2012 1:11AM

    AMEN sister!

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SEPPIESUSAN 1/9/2012 8:37PM

    I see you blogged about that infamous article, too. I love your conclusions though. Very inspiring read!! Thanks for commenting on my blogs. :)

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MEADSBAY 1/7/2012 10:41PM

You are such a great blogger!
Think I'll go see what's up on the msg boards.
The article certainly has caused a lot of discussion.
I found it to be very comforting.
P.S. OMG- hated that holier-than-thou toxic guy over there.
I do not like judgmental people.

Comment edited on: 1/9/2012 8:00:09 PM

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FRACTALMYTH 1/7/2012 7:06PM

    Wow... so staying balanced on the pinnacle of the glass mountain is just as arduous as the long steep slippery climb to get there??? Shows why it needs to be a complete lifestyle choice and there are no quick fix solutions. Thanks for the heads-up. Helps to step back and look the enemy squarely in the face before leaping back into the battle.

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SLENDERELLA61 1/7/2012 5:10PM

    Thanks, Ellen. I knew it wasn't easy; now I know more about the why. If I had read this last year I would have been even angrier at my mother for raising me fat. In fairness, I should have been blaming my dad, too, as he was also a very poor role model when it comes to food. However, I now feel like a winner. I don't blame mom and dad. I can maintain my weight. And I don't care if it is harder for me than it is for someone who, unlike me, was not overweight for 5 decades. I can do it and it is worth it. I intend to keep doing it. Life is good. May not always be fair, but it is definitely good!! -Marsha

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PENNYAN45 1/7/2012 12:15AM

    How funny, I wrote a blog about that article too.
I didn't much like the research findings it reported...
but I also decided that I would not use it as an excuse to give up.

It does make me appreciate Spark People that much more.
The support here is what helps Sparkers to lose that weight AND to maintain the new lower weight -- in spite of all the body functions that are working against us.

So if we grumble every once in a while - we can be bolstered by the new knowledge that it isn't ALL IN OUR HEADS!

Losing - and then maintaining - is NOT EASY!

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KALIGIRL 1/5/2012 5:16PM

    It's worth it for all of us - here's to eternal vigilance!

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NANCY- 1/5/2012 8:11AM

    Usually I'm not a Negative Nancy.. but I do like Linda's thought about it sucking. what sucks worse.... for me it would be gaining the weight back and going back to smoking. Call it aversion therapy or call it I like where I am. Being comfortable with my body... less pain, more freedom of movement. If staying where I am is the choice that I make then the eternal vigilance is well worth the effort.

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TRAVELGRRL 1/4/2012 7:41PM

    Well, I read your blog as soon as you posted it but I couldn't respond right away -- I had to get over my urge to commit hari kari!

This is very depressing news for someone who has trouble GETTING the weight off, but as you say, I'd rather know the reality so I can face it and deal with it.

The bottom line is that this is my body, for good or ill. This is the only one I've got and will ever have. This is the hand I've been dealt, and now it is up to me to play it the very best I can.

So I sally forth with even more determination!!

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KLONG8 1/4/2012 12:53AM

    So my friends who tell me "you don't really need to walk an hour, then bike an hour, then do some yoga and strength work the next day" are pretty much shown that they don't get my reality. Yes I do....unless I want to try to exist on a handful of greens and a nice big glass of water each day (by the way...I don't!)

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 1/3/2012 9:33PM

    We've been discussing this over here, too:


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DSHONEYC 1/3/2012 2:56PM

    It's sort of like smoking (or quitting smoking)...it is better to have never gotten "fat" to begin with. I cringe when I see all those kids who are technically obese...their life will be filled with the endless battle of the bulge. Maybe these findings (from Australia) are only valid for people in the Southern Hemisphere...
what do you think? emoticon

Slow and steady makes a lot more sense to me now. I have managed to keep 10 pounds off from 2009 loss, but made no progress on the next 10 I need to lose. Just maintained, which of course is not a bad thing.

Hunger, gives me a whole new perspective on "World Hunger". Thanks for sharing...I know you work hard maintaining and you are an inspiration!

Comment edited on: 1/3/2012 2:57:26 PM

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PHEBESS 1/3/2012 8:13AM

    You've said it all - we have to eat less, exercise more, be ever vigilant, and, oh well, that's the reality. We can't do much else!

And while I have more weight I'm working on losing, I consider every pound lost and maintained lost a victory!

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WATERMELLEN 1/3/2012 7:55AM

    Grrrr. Grrr. Or maybe that should be Ghhhhrrrrrrrrr.

Ghrelin. Get lost.

We'll all just keep roaring together!! We can do this. We ARE doing this!!

And yeah. It does help to know that I'm not being unnecessarily vigilant. That this is what it takes.


emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/3/2012 7:56:20 AM

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SALSIFY 1/3/2012 7:18AM

    Thanks for sharing the article. I also think it's better to know why maintenance is so difficult rather than think, as I did before, that there was something particularly strange about myself. For me, it's about managing hunger - & now I know why I get so hungry. I have to eat regularly & also not exercise too vigorously to avoid feeling ravenous & out of control. Also training myself to know that 'hunger is not an emergency' from Beck's Diet Solution has been really helpful - as you know!

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/3/2012 1:59AM

    Thank you Ellen and Don, what an interesting article. It explains so much and now I can understand why eternal vigilance is a must. Thank God for SP and SparkFriends who understand what we go through to be healthier, lighter and to feel better about ourselves. emoticon

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_LINDA 1/3/2012 1:53AM

    I was warned maintenance would be harder then the actual losing of the weight and it sure is -you have to exercise more to burn the same number of calories and eat less so as to not gain. Yep, it sure does suck to be maintaining. But it sucks worse to be obese, so I guess I am stuck with it..
Here is to being successfully vigilant in the New Year!!
We can do it!!

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TBANMAN 1/2/2012 10:50PM

    Excellent article - thanks for sharing. Makes all of us compulsive fitness-minute and calorie trackers seem a little more sane, doesn't it?

I'm glad to see they're doing more studies on slower weight loss. I can't believe that taking people down so fast doesn't fundamentally change how the body reacts. It just makes sense that the body of person who loses 30 pounds in 10 weeks reacts differently to the loss than the body of a person who loses 30 pounds over 10 months. Food for thought, as it were.

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REDSHOES2011 1/2/2012 10:08PM

    Experts do alot of talking- they never ask us people whom succeed at maintenance long haul what it "really takes". The huge changes have yet to come in society so we are not deemed as outcasts saying no to the traditions that are all wrong.
As we get fitter we have to educate ourselfs to fine tune the food and exercise needs to our ever changing fitness level. Alot of people don't even know how to use their calories range correctly or know what components are absolutely necessary at each meal..

Comment edited on: 1/2/2012 10:48:42 PM

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DDOORN 1/2/2012 10:05PM

    Science is getting closer and closer to proving you OH-so-correct! :

"This weight maintenance thing really does demand the kind of OCD energy and attention I have been devoting to it."

This article sums up the latest in research which 4-A-HEALTHY-BMI has been following closely also.

Better hard truths than to wander and wonder, eh...? Not that you've been doing much of THAT lately! :-)


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    Maintenance sure is a whole different animal.

I am so thankful for Spark friends and the "At Goal and Maintaining" team. It really does help to know the real answers to the less-often asked questions.

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January 1 2012 Weigh In: An Historical Review!!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

OK, had to change my weight tracker this morning to 142. Up from 140. And not the middle 3 which is what I aim for.

Hmmmm. I've been trying to get back to middle 3 for a couple of months. Without success. Have weighed myself every day. Have seen a swing between 140 and 143.5. Have seen exasperating flutters below to that middle number 3, but the scales have never been "resting" at middle 3 since about late October.

Despite the fact that I have been tracking. Diligently. And have been only very rarely over my calorie range. Even through the holiday season.

On the other hand, I have not been getting to the gym as often as I should -- particularly since the golf course closed for the season. But I have been at the gym at least a couple times a week.

However, I know that exercise (although important for mood, toning, cardio fitness) has little to do with weight loss maintenance for me. Counting calories, balancing fat/protein/carbs: that's what does it. I can never exercise enough to eat remotely close to whatever I want. I have to tolerate hunger, which is not an emergency: and I have. I must eat sitting down every time: and I need to renew my commitment to that basic principle! (Although yes, I've tracked what I've eaten standing up!)

Now the long term and more recent history.

Waaaay back in June 2001 I had weighed a whopping 230. Heaviest ever. Size 18-20. And I had taken off 80 pounds, down to 150, by February 2002. Mostly kept it off. But I had also permitted a gradual increase of those 20 (pity party) pounds or so by 2009: about 10 pounds very quickly, feeling sad and scared after breast cancer diagnosis early in 2009.

My goal weight, set by SP in 2009 when I signed up, was 155. In May 2009 I weighed about 173. And I achieved SP goal weight within a couple months of joining SP. So grateful to SP. Got back into my size 10s. And some 8s. Then I fluctuated up and down 10 pounds or so.

June 2001: 230.

February 2002: 150

May 2009: 173.

August 2009: 155

January 2011: 163

August 2011: 138

January 2012: 142

So: a year ago, I weighed 20 pounds more than right now. That was the point at which SLENDERERLLA introduced me to the Judith S. Beck cognitive psychology approach in her great book, "The Diet Solution", and I learned to "think like a thin person". Saw middle 3. Stayed there for quite a number of months over the summer. And moved comfortably into quite a number of size 6s!

So here's the question, adopting Judith S. Beck's distinction between lowest achievable weight and lowest sustainable weight.

Was 138 my lowest achievable weight? And is 140-142 my lowest sustainable weight?

My waist measurement is still under 28", hips under 38", neck under 13": size 6s all still fitting.

But: I do not want to put on any more weight. I do not want to adopt an attitude of complacency which will see me fluctuate up 10 or 20 pounds again.

And: I would like to see a middle number 3 again.

There is it. I do not want to fluctuate more than 2-3 pounds. It's not healthy for me with my history of estrogen-positive breast cancer.

I'll continue to aim for the middle 3. And continue to explore whether it's just achievable (temporarily), or perhaps sustainable.

When I'm working out, I'm not eating! So for that reason alone, it could not hurt to step up the exercise. My gym is open today. Apparently the cross country ski trails are open too (although it's pretty icy and crusty out there).

Eternal vigilance. I'm doing OK with weight loss maintenance. I can live with 140-143. But I want to do just a little better.

Above all, I want to stabilize my weight without fluctuation other than normal water retention/salt/biological swings. Two or three pounds.

That's the goal. And I'm making turkey soup broth from the bones I'd stored in the freezer!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PUDLECRAZY 1/3/2012 5:23AM

    Excellent blog, Ellen!

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DDOORN 1/2/2012 8:35PM

    Agree wholeheartedly re: exercise not having the impact on weight that food choices and calorie tracking has. ESPECIALLY in light of the research that's been accumulating on the struggles to maintain weight loss when one has been obese in the past:


You've been so admirably vigilant and can savor those rewards! Tip 'o the hat to you!


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SALSIFY 1/2/2012 9:25AM

    Thank you for a wonderful review! You are always such an inspiration to me. I can understand your concern around a gradual drift upwards in weight & hope you can find a sustainable weight you're happy with.

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    Wow, I would love to be your current weight and have your measurement.

Enviously yours,
Scootergirl in Oz

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SLENDERELLA61 1/1/2012 6:05PM

    Great blog! Great accomplishments. I think one more push with exercise to make it to middle number 3 is in order. If it doesn't come with your best effort, then let it go. You know you are at a good weight, a beautiful weight.

I'm actually going to do that myself. I've set a goal to lose one pound in January and one in February. If I do it, great!! I'll move my goal weight range down 2 pounds. If I don't, I'll keep it where it is and truly embrace maintenance. Yes, maintenance, and not creeping pounds. I feel a need to give up the scale obsession and "just live" as JOYINKY calls it. But I intend to just live without weight gain.

I also like your goal of a tight weight range. I want to tighten mine a bit.

Congrats on all you have accomplished and a very, very good 2011. Wishing you the best 2012 possible!!

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FREELADY 1/1/2012 2:21PM

    This makes a lot of sense. Good analytical evalution. I like your blend of applying good advice AND knowing what it is you yourself truly want.

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_LINDA 1/1/2012 12:50PM

    You have done well Ellen. If your clothes still fit in the 140's, then maybe that is your true weight. But its disturbing to think you are feeling hungry. If you are eating well balanced meals with the proper ratios of carbs, protein and some fat, you shouldn't be feeling hungry. I personally feel its essential for exercise to be a daily part of a healthy lifestyle, but realize weight can be maintained through sickness and recovery with no exercise at all, but I can say I don't feel good about it. Eating 9-13 servings of fruits and veggies a day keeps me from feeling hungry as that is a lot to eat, but they are low calorie so fit in the ranges fine. I rarely eat much grains and don't need to as I get lots of fiber from the freggies. I have such big meals of these, I don't feel like snacking in between. Maybe you need to find some alternate form of exercise that is fun in winter -it sucks the weather isn't cooperating -here too -Mom is missing her snow for snowshoeing and walking is very treacherous on the icy streets :(
Hope you find something to Spark your interest for physical activities. Don't be afraid to try something outside the box!
All the best with your goal in 2012,

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TBANMAN 1/1/2012 12:36PM

    It's amazing what a little perspective can give you, isn't it? You have done a truly remarkable job over the years - it's good you can celebrate that and not just dismiss it.

I also struggle with the "lowest achievable" and "lowest sustainable." I've reviewed my weigh-ins for the last year, and I am clearly able to sustain 162 pounds, give or take 2 either way. That's with and without tracking, with and without exercise. I have dipped into the high 150's but never for more than a week. So when I beat myself up for "gaining five pounds," I have to then ask myself - "five pounds from what? From my lowest weight ever? Is that realistic?" Because when I look at my lowest sustained weight, I'm pretty much bang on.

Good luck with your journey into 2012 - hopefully we can both come to some sort of resolution.


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PHEBESS 1/1/2012 12:08PM

    Some of us just gain a few each winter - a natural part of adapting to cold climates. Frustrating but true. I lose weight every summer because the fruits and vegs are so much more appealing!

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SHERRIE_BERRY 1/1/2012 11:44AM

    WOW!!!! You've come so far! Thank you for sharing this review, it will help me along my journey...it is possible!!!

Much love xx

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TEENY_BIKINI 1/1/2012 11:35AM

    Rock on! You can do anything, gorgeous!!


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PENNYAN45 1/1/2012 10:39AM

    It's an impressive weight-loss record you are sharing here, Ellen.

2012 is the year in which you will achieve your ultimate goal of reaching the 3s again and maintaining there.

Your perseverance will pay off.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KANOE10 1/1/2012 10:36AM

    I like your comment..eternal vigilance. You are doing a great job of trying to maintain and to figure out what weight you should stay at. Increasing your exercise will help. Happy New Year to you and I know you will achieve your goals!

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MZSMITH1987 1/1/2012 9:48AM

    This is very motivational to see you reach to your goals and still see that maintenance weight can sometimes be difficult because I thought once I hit my goal then it was easy and smooth sailing. Keep it up & wishing you many more cancer free days

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White Narcissus and Pink Amaryllis

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My second pot of narcissus has been much more successful: the first bloom opened Christmas day, and now I have clusters of them. Love the scent, love the shape, love the whiteness against sparkling white snow outside the kitchen window.

And: my pink amaryllis was also in bloom when I got home from work today. It's got four flowers on the main stem (two open, two to come) and another large bud on a secondary stem about to surge up too. The second amaryllis (an orange one) is just beginning to grow . . .

We are running out of food much more quickly with both children at home. When I went to the grocery store after work yesterday, the boxes containing narcissus bulbs/earth/pot had been just marked down to just $1 a box!

So you can bet I snaffled up two more kits right away!! I'll get them planted up this coming weekend.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRYINGHARD1948 12/29/2011 2:51PM

    Oh Ellen, the scent is amazing. So lovely to remember that in the depth of Winter new life comes springing forth, sweet harbingers of Spring.

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NANCY- 12/29/2011 2:01PM

    Excellent find on the bulbs.

Must be heavenly to have the fresh perfume in the air. Enjoy!

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_LINDA 12/29/2011 12:19AM

    Wow! That would be so awesome to have all those pretty colorful flowers around! Wouldn't it be nice to visit you!
My Mom's Christmas cactuses didn't put out the profuse blooms they usually do this year, but its probably because she moved everything around and they are not in their normal spot. The place they are in now gets very little light.
Enjoy your new flowers and yay with the price score for more!!

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PHEBESS 12/28/2011 9:26PM

    Love the smell of narcissus!!!!! Do you do hyacinths too?

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TEENY_BIKINI 12/28/2011 9:00PM

    That's amazing. I wish I had a place to grow winter plants - that my cats wouldn't eat.

Yay you!!

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TRAVELGRRL 12/28/2011 8:32PM

    I am so delighted in your delight! Blooming plants in winter are such a joy! My husband brought in a tiny rose for me today out of our garden; how it managed to survive the cold weather I don't know. I have a tiny little bud vase that hangs on my refrigerator from a magnet, and that's where the little gem is!


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DDOORN 12/28/2011 7:56PM

    Beautiful flowers...nice score!

What a wonderful talent & interest you have in growing such beauties!


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How Much Too Much?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Don't really know: but yeah, much too much!!

Cinnamon bun and fresh fruit salad for breakfast. Quite a few appetizers. Mostly shrimp, raw veggies with humus/salsa . . . but also a couple of cheesie pastries. And two Virgin Caesars.

And then: a small serving of each of everything I'd put on the table. Turkey, stuffing, smashed potatoes, broccoli, carrots, corn, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, a small croissant with butter and . . . I simply clocked in somebody's 2011 Thanksgiving Dinner on the nutrition tracker as a kind of proxy -- such a wild number that it's gotta be more than I actually ate -- - and that person had very kindly included fat and protein and calories and carbs. Thank you!!

It was a great day -- family, friends, music, laughter, some lovely gifts: and too much food. My brother-in-law brought home made-lemon blueberry cheesecake and I even had a sliver of that! -- with a tiny sliver of cherry pie!!.

And now I'm taking all of it to the gym.

I very very rarely eat those kind of foods. Today I'm reminded of why I don't: my digestive system is simply not geared up to accommodate them! Not just the calories, but in particular that amount of fat. And that length of time sitting, although believe me, I also did a lot of zooming around the kitchen wrassling everything onto the table. Even my patented "pre fab" approach (frozen pre-stuffed turkey, canned cranberry sauce with add-ins, canned turkey gravy with thyme and sage etc. etc. ) does not eliminate all of the labour!

Suffice it to say, I had more than an elegant satiety. I know that I'll feel much much better when I've burned a little of it on the elliptical cross trainer. And done a lower body ST workout!

Bring it on!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCY- 12/27/2011 3:22PM

    Those kind of meals help me measure my progress in my quest to be healthier. There are things that can be tweaked. WTG on making things simple and being kind to you.

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_LINDA 12/26/2011 10:58PM

    Good one Donna, all too true! I can't work off my calories yet, got to have patience. Good for you with your discipline Ellen! Sounds like you didn't do too much damamge!

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DONNACFIT 12/26/2011 5:16PM

    Christmas Cheer ends up on my rear!! Haha..oh I over ate too and now I'm ready to gear up to burn off those extra calories!

Happy Boxing Day..maybe we should do some "kick boxing"

Look out exercise bike!!

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DDOORN 12/26/2011 2:50PM

    Yep, back at it here...have staked out my 4.5 mile loop for Nordic Walking and jogging @ DS & D-i-L's.


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TRYINGHARD1948 12/26/2011 2:07PM

    I think quite a few of us will be feeling the same way today Ellen. So lovely to enjoy a few days without guilt and then get right back to normal. We can do it.

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PHEBESS 12/26/2011 1:05PM

    Sounds like a wonderful Christmas - and Boxing Day is here to burn off those Christmas calories!

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TRAVELGRRL 12/26/2011 10:55AM

    Well, thank goodness Christmas only comes once a year!!!

We went out to eat, which means no leftovers in my house! Yay.
I don't eat like that very often either, and I ended up going to bed early -- it must have been the overload of all the bad stuff that made me feel so sluggish.

I'm with you -- already have my 4 mile walk in today and ready to get back to some healthy eating!

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NEWKAREN43 12/26/2011 10:52AM

    Track it all and take it to the gym...that's the recipe for success even when we overindulge a bit! Good for you!!!

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Mary made Christmas happen the first time . . . .

Friday, December 23, 2011

. . . . . and it must have been difficult. Worrying.

Money worries? Certainly: the taxes were due, after all. Not easy.

Riding a donkey to Bethlehem at 8.9 months pregnant? Not easy.

No room in the inn, having to labour and deliver in a stable? Not easy.

And then accepting that she was the mother of the Messiah? Couldn't have been easy at all.

But: (and meaning no disrespect, absolutely none) Mary only had to do it once. Once only.

Moreover, she had lots of help.

The greetings department was expertly managed by a heavenly host of angels. Better than Christmas cards or emails: no trips to the post office, no stamps, no inbox overloads from photo blogs.

The shepherds visiting handled all the travel arrangements themselves. No pickups at the airport or the bus station.

Gift shopping? Thank to the magi, all wrapped up and delivered. No Visa bills after the event.

House cleaning? Not a big concern, under the circumstances. Maybe a little extra hay spread around.

Baking? The baby Jesus wasn't yet interested in gingerbread houses. No shortbread required for refreshments after the church pageant.

Decorating? One big star seems to have done the trick.

Music? A little lowing from the cattle . . . that apparently sufficed.

But since that first Christmas, all over the world women make Christmas happen over and over again, year after year, for their families. Maybe you're helping your mother and your sisters. Or it's your first time alone, Your fifth. Perhaps you've done it thirty times. Will do it fifty times, or more. In your lifetime. With help from your daughter as you get older.

Because in most families, it still is women who do most of the work. Who make Christmas happen. For everyone. Their own families, their relatives, and anyone who needs a place to go that special day so as not to be alone.

Okay, we're not pregnant every year. But most of us have been pregnant (or with young children) quite a few Christmases And young, middle aged, or getting on in years we still handle the visitors, the cleaning, the gift shopping, the wrapping, the grocery shopping, the baking, the meal planning, the decorations, the entertainment, the . . . yeah. All of that.

And did I mention, we also get ourselves all dooded up a bit too? Hair. Makeup. A pretty seasonal outfit. That's also suitable for leaning into a hot oven and lifting out a fully stuffed turkey??

Mary did it once. Once only, And by all accounts she kept it simple.

As I sit down in my house (decorated) with a fridge full of groceries and a small mound of gifts (wrapped) I think of Mary.

And what she did, once. Simply. Magnificently. Joyously.

What all of us have done over the past month. And what all of us will do, over the next 48 hours.

Mary Christmas? We are!! And Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas!!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAYLSLYNN 12/29/2011 2:44PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon I WANT TO BE MORE LIKE MARK AND KEEP IT SIMPLE. I WANT TO KEEP MY LIFE SIMPLE SERVING GOD.

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MA_DIDDLES 12/26/2011 10:26PM


Comment edited on: 12/26/2011 10:28:59 PM

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GOOSIEMOON 12/24/2011 10:15PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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_LINDA 12/24/2011 1:49PM

    Having no children and never will, I do appreciate all the work mothers (especially mine) puts into making Christmas special for her children and grandchildren when they gather round. She has been going since five o' clock this morning without any help or respite. My poor step dad is next to useless. He can't cook or clean, but he can do a little wrapping, but the effort Mom puts into getting him to do it sometimes is too much and she gets it done quicker herself. Can't keep him away from his puzzles (he plays solitaire on the computer and sudoku and crosswords most of the day when he is not falling asleep while doing it). So yes, Moms deserve kudos, and as much help as they can get from their fellow women.
But wouldn't it be nice to go back to simpler times.
I hope you vcan enjoy the Christmas you have worked so hard for!!

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PHEBESS 12/24/2011 11:54AM

    Sending you Happy Merry Christmas wishes, and may you have much love and laughter in the coming year!

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EBPOOKIE 12/24/2011 1:49AM

    Most wonderful and thank you and you have yourself a Merry Merry Christmas!! and a great 2012!

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ANYVAR54 12/24/2011 12:11AM

    Thank you, our mutual friend SHERRIE_BERRY shared this with me. I am glad she did. Thank you. Good blog. good thoughts.
My daughter is helping me with Christmas this year, we are having it at her house.
And we do have a little one, her brothers son is 22 mths old.
And my daughter has one on the way. Due in July.
What a blessing this Christmas is, and will be.

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DDOORN 12/23/2011 11:38PM

    Oh hey, Christmas would pale if it wasn't for the efforts of all you lovely women out there...absolutely no DOUBT about that!

Lovely thoughts...thx for sharing!


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SHERRIE_BERRY 12/23/2011 10:45PM

    Wow!!! This is the most inspirational, beautiful blog I have ever read!

Merry Christmas to you!

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