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On the fly

Monday, October 21, 2013

I got back from Switzerland over a week ago and now am packing for Florida. What a contrast! In the middle of all the travel, I managed to get a UTI and a nasty cold. The UTI is gone, the cold is not but I'm feeling better and got more meds this morning at the doctor's office.

The trip to the Alps was wonderful and not what I expected. Usually, I spend the afternoons hiking and enjoying the views. I get up early and walk before breakfast, too. But we had thick fog the whole 4 days, except when it was raining or, on the second to last night, snowing. Everyone at the retreat agreed that it was a good thing because most of us ended up getting more rest that way. And many came to the retreat in serious need of that rest, both spiritually and physically. It was like a cocoon of peaceful, comforting fog that enveloped us. On the last evening, the sun came out between the clouds and we got our first glimpses of the snow-covered peaks. It was a much more dramatic sight than just streaming sunshine. Personally, I was happy to have had a chance to sing at one of the services. It was pretty much the first time I had sung in public since my dad's funeral.

Here's the song: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gmVzbjxwl4

Now, it's off to Florida. It's turning into a bit of a crisis trip. We were supposed to close on the deal to short sell my parents' condo on October 30. Now I'm not able to provide the potential buyer with the financial paperwork he needs from the condo association. The man who's been handling (or NOT handling) the books and finances since Dad died isn't answering my calls, nor those from my cousin, who is another of the 4 owners in the small complex. I understand that this man is facing foreclosure on his own home, and has a lot on his plate right now. But he is making this more complicated by not responding. If I can't get the information from him that I need to give the buyer, the deal will fall through. That would mean the condo would go into foreclosure which would be a negative for all four owners in the complex.

On the UP side, the plans for my father's art exhibition at the local museum. This, and not the condo deal, is the big reason why I'm traveling to FL at this time. The show opens on November 4. The young man who is organizing things there is really fun to work with, and seems even more excited about the show than I am. It is great that at least this project is falling into place nicely as we email back and forth about the details.

In ALL these things, I'm trying to stay positive and thankful. I know that there are lessons in these financial messes somewhere, even if I don't see them now.

In the eating and weight loss area, I'm still just kind of holding steady. I'm not able to participate in the challenges as I'd like to, or exercise as intensively as I'd like to. But it is what it is for now and I refuse to stay discouraged even if I do fall into that pit from time to time.

Today, I realized that I'll qualify for a senior pass for the public transportation system in Stuttgart in less than a year. I'm not sure how I feel about that!

Thanks for reading, dear Spark buddies! It may be awhile before I get to thank you for commenting, but do know that I read and appreciate each message! Hope to have time to check in again by next weekend, after the jet lag has passed!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZANNACHAN 10/26/2013 2:02PM

    Your retreat sounds lovely--seriously lovely. I'm glad that you got a chance to really rest and destress and reground your faith.

I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as far as the condo mess goes--I hope you get the info you need soon. And good luck with the art exhibit! That sounds like a wonderful way to remember and honor your father.

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SEAJESS 10/24/2013 12:08PM

    emoticon Holding steady is a GOOD thing! Especially in times of stress and challenge, like travel (where we have less control over our choices) and real estate sales (which tempt me at least to stress eating). If only I'd held steady during my father's last illness... but that was my learning curve and today is a new day. The point is, your accomplishment is truly impressive! Gold stars for Michelle!!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

emoticon for the beautiful song. I love Allison Krauss. She's one of my "stations" on Pandora!

Singing songs of praise for your steady hold.

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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 10/23/2013 7:13PM

    Sounds like the retreat was just what you needed barring the irritating illnesses. Hope you have a successful and fun filled trip to Florida, even if the reason is bittersweet. Holding steady is much better than my situation in which I'm actually moving up instead of down.


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RURAL3 10/23/2013 10:51AM

    Michelle you are one busy lady. A lot of fun mixed in with work. Guess that's the way it should be. I pray that you get ahold of the guy who has the right paperwork and it all works out. I would love to see pics of the exhibition if you can post some. I am sure it will be an emotional but gratifying time. I hope your feet are doing better. emoticon

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FEISTYOWL 10/22/2013 10:42PM

    I'm glad to hear you are feeling better and had a chance to recharge in Switzerland. I hope your trip to Florida all works out for you - hard to deal with those kinds of things. That exhibition of your father's work sounds wonderful - I hope it brings you much joy!

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68ANNE 10/22/2013 8:37PM

    Glad you enjoyed the retreat. Very good for the soul!

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CAROLYN0107 10/22/2013 3:34PM

    Enjoy getting Sr. rates, after all, you've waited a long time to get them!!!!

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DDOORN 10/22/2013 2:37PM

    Love it! "cocoon of peaceful, comforting fog"...we all need such reprieves in our lives!

Beautiful song...and Alison is one of my favorite female vocalists...!

Shake that cold and savor those travels! :-)


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JOANNKW 10/22/2013 11:18AM

    Zella, I'm praying it all gets sorted out quickly and painlessly. It sounds as if there are a lot of factors over which you have very little control. That always is challenging.

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RUBECCAL 10/22/2013 5:45AM

    The retreat sounds wonderful. I love fog...except for when it is hard to breathe in it. I hope you get things worked out with the condo soon. Good luck with the art exhibit.

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MESEATURTLE 10/22/2013 4:17AM

    Hope everything sorts out for u !

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KPACE7 10/21/2013 10:10PM

    Try to enjoy your trip. I would LOVE to be in Florida. I am so proud of you staying the same weight wise. You are doing great! emoticon

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CHOCOHOLIC2276 10/21/2013 9:58PM

    Sorry its not a pleasure trip but hope you'll get a chance to spend time with your family. Praying everything goes smoothly for you.

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FIT_MELISSA 10/21/2013 8:51PM

    Thinking of you as you make this trip. What a beautiful tribute to your father, I'm glad that you get to be there for it. emoticon

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FITNHEALTHYKAL 10/21/2013 6:35PM

    emoticon I hope you can resolve the bureaucracy and paperwork issues and enjoy the celebration of your Dad's life work. For me, a long walk on the beach watching the sun rise and set in the evening is soul healing. Wishing you peace and joy this trip.... emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/21/2013 6:36:24 PM

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 10/21/2013 5:33PM

    That was a beautiful song. Thanks for sharing it.

You have been one busy lady! I hope things go well for you on your trip to Florida.

I'm glad your UTI is gone. Wow....those are no fun! Now, I just hope your cold goes away too!

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JENSHAINES 10/21/2013 4:51PM

    Hope the trip goes easily and well. You've had a lot on your plate since the challenge started - I hope that the condo situation straightens out.

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VISUALLYRICS 10/21/2013 4:14PM

    Love it that you're holding steady! emoticon You're in the palm of God's hand through the complicated condo paperwork and art exhibition details. . . I look at life and am so thankful I have a Holy Father to turn to ...or turn it all over to. emoticon
. . .what a lovely song, Michelle. You have a refreshing cup of Joy and you inspire me to have an attitude of gratitude.

~ Laura emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/21/2013 4:14:49 PM

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MYUTMOST4HIM 10/21/2013 4:05PM


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Monday, October 07, 2013

I'm off to the Swiss Alps for a 4-day retreat tomorrow. It will be a 7-hour train ride. I look forward to it - time to relax, read, listen to music and some sermon tapes, enjoy the scenery. Good fellowship, times of worship, food and fun await me at the top of the mountain!

When I get back, it will be time to start the 5% challenge - my goal is to lose 7.5 pounds. I can do that. Glad to be back with the Firecracker team this time around - some familiar faces among the members and lots of enthusiastic new ones, too!
Go, Firecrackers! emoticon and Go, Azuritas! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

68ANNE 10/14/2013 8:51PM

    How did the retreat go?


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FITNHEALTHYKAL 10/10/2013 4:57PM

    Can't wait to hear all about it!

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STONECOT 10/9/2013 11:42PM

    Have fun! See you when you get back.

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ZANNACHAN 10/9/2013 4:55PM

    I hope you have a great trip, and good luck with both challenges! I am a little in awe of people who can manage more than one challenge--I have not been able to do that. I have a hard enough time finding time for the BLC! LOL.

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DOLLFACEDX 10/9/2013 4:52PM

    Sooooooo green with envy. . . bring back tons of pics to share in several blogs. . have FUN. . .relax. . .return rejuvenated and ready to hit the road running!

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PARASELENIC 10/9/2013 12:07PM

    Take pictures! Are you going to get to go skiing as well? So jealous!

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WALKINGBYFAITH2 10/9/2013 10:41AM

    emoticon Have a great retreat!!

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JERSEYGIRL24 10/8/2013 9:47PM

    Sounds great. Have a wonderful time!!! emoticon

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JENSHAINES 10/8/2013 8:34PM

    I hope the retreat is as wonderful as you expect it to be! Good luck with the 5% challenge, too!

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IFDEEVARUNS2 10/8/2013 10:57AM

    Wonderful! Enjoy your time in the mountains.

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CAROLYN0107 10/8/2013 7:30AM

    I would LOVE to have a few days in the Swiss Alps about now!! I am going to a conference in Spain next month, during the 5% Challenge. THAT WILL BE A CHALLENGE as all the food is included in the price of the hotel room!!! I will need to lose about 13 pounds during that challenge.

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SEAJESS 10/8/2013 12:44AM

    Sounds emoticon! I love train rides; you're sort of trapped into relaxation. Have a soulful, rejuvenating time and we'll be here to emoticon you when you return.

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FEISTYOWL 10/7/2013 5:36PM

    Have a wonderful, rejuvenating time!!

I don't know how you can do two teams at once - impressive!

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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 10/7/2013 5:10PM

    Sounds like a fun relaxing time for you. Have fun!

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DDOORN 10/7/2013 5:01PM

    Have a super time! Just saw this and thought of your travels:



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VISUALLYRICS 10/7/2013 5:01PM

    emoticon emoticon Have fun, Michelle!

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RUNNINGOMA 10/7/2013 4:55PM

    Have a wonderful time! emoticon

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A goal by any other name...

Thursday, October 03, 2013

I posted September goals but with two big challenges and various sub-challenges going on and multiple ways to track, report and - of course - achieve them, I'm not going to make a separate list for October. My Is that OK with everyone? Good! I'm glad you all agree with me on that one!

Basically, the plan is to stick to the plan. On the BLC (Go Azure!) we post Course goals each Wednesday, then report back the following week on how we did. Then we post what we need to tweak, add, or change up. Here's my update for the past week
1. Track food and exercise daily. emoticon
2. Coke Zero reduction. It was a bit more than the week before, but still less than it had been.

3. 30 minutes of exercise a day. If the feet are giving me trouble, then do seated cardio a la Coach Nicole or ride my bike. emoticon
I got new insoles and new shoes to help with the plantar fasciitis and it's getting better! Got in a couple of longer pole walks last weekend! emoticon

4. No eating after 9 PM. All but one day.

5. Take my vitamins! Missed a day.

6. Minimum 6 hours of sleep per night. 7 or 8 is even better. Got only 6 on two nights.

7. Blog once a week. emoticon
8. Post on the Azure thread at least 3 times. emoticon
9. Post BLC Weekend challenge stuff. emoticon
10. File my German tax return. emoticon

In the week ahead, I've also committed to 15 minutes a day of housecleaning and 5 short sessions of ST together with my Azure buddies.

On Tuesday, I take off for a 4-day retreat in Switzerland. REALLY looking forward to that!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 10/6/2013 10:59PM

    Oh my, Switzerland must be calling you BIGTIME! Congrats on your successes and what a wonderful reward for yourself! Have a blast! :-)


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    You are rockin' your goals! Be gentle with yourself. As Para says, these are a framework for your journey and meant to be rewarded, not chastized!

Are you packed and ready for your retreat? 15 years is a long and wonderful history and tradition of going!


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SUSANELAINE1956 10/4/2013 5:24PM

    You are doing great. I especially want to wish you luck on your retreat. emoticon

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ZANNACHAN 10/4/2013 1:01PM

    Looks like you are off to a good start--sure, some room for improvement, but a pretty soild foundation! You can do this!!!

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CAROLYN0107 10/4/2013 12:59AM

    I know what you mean. There are so many different goals for different challenges one almost needs to make a chart!


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ANGORA4 10/3/2013 11:24PM


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RUNNERRACHEL 10/3/2013 8:31PM

    emoticon It is great that you are continuing with your goals, and setting new ones. Keep up the great work!

Have fun on your retreat! emoticon

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FEISTYOWL 10/3/2013 5:23PM

    You're doing great! And I wanna go for 4 days in Switzerland (my hubs grandfather is from there). Have fun relaxing!

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VISUALLYRICS 10/3/2013 3:49PM

    emoticon Michelle! emoticon cheering for YOU Miss Azurita! emoticon

...:::and a 4 day retreat sounds dreamy . . . emoticon emoticon how Fab is that?!

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PARASELENIC 10/3/2013 3:40PM

    Hey Zella!

If I recall correctly, the no eating after 9pm was busted because one day you had a nuts day and didn't get home until late late, right?

I think you should check that off as goal met, personally. Our goals are there to provide the framework for us to get back to health, not to provide us with a rigid expectation that causes failure when life operates in it's normal unpredictable way.

It's one of the main reasons that I don't have goals for ANYTHING everyday. I want to achieve my goals and have them be a platform to push me forward and motivate me. It sucks to feel shame or disappointment in yourself if a legitimate reason kept you from your goals.

Were you nomming at 9pm every day? Were you making excuses to allow you to nom? Nope. I think you're doing great on your goals. You've earned a goal met in my book.

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IRISHHONEYBEE 10/3/2013 3:32PM

    Looks like you are on your way. A lot of them are met and that is a good thing.

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GODDREAMDIVA1 10/3/2013 3:26PM


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Truth in Tracking

Saturday, September 28, 2013

emoticon emoticon emoticon I've been back to tracking my food on SP this month and have been doing well about 80% of the time. As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, I do well at the beginning of the week because I plan and prep meals on the weekend. Pretty simple strategy that just involves making a big batch of something, portioning it out, and eating the "leftovers" for packed lunches and/or dinner. emoticon

Towards the end of the week, though, around Thursday when my stash of little boxes starts to run out, I tend to get off track. Solution? Increase that stash of little boxes! As I get back in the big batch habit, this will happen, but I'm also thinking of investing part of my tax refund in a small freezer, something I've been thinking of getting for a long time. My tiny fridge's tiny freezer doesn't hold much! I think it would also be a money-saver in the long run because not only can I freeze casseroles and portions of soup, I can stock up on things when they're on sale.
emoticon emoticon emoticon
Along with just plain ol' tracking, I've also started measuring again. emoticon With some of my go-to meals, I had gotten in the habit of just eye-balling the ingredients. My burritos (the meal, not the little donkey, Deeva!) were getting bigger and bigger: just a leeetle more avocado, what was supposed to be 20 grams of cheese was probably more like 30 or 40, you get the idea.
emoticon emoticon
That was OK back when I reached goal and actually needed to increase calories a bit for maintenance. But that was a couple of years ago, hello!?
emoticon emoticon
On the BLC this weekend, we've been challenged to track every BLT - Bite, Lick and Taste - of the food we eat, so this is good encouragement to me to be honest with myself and with my best buddies, the Spark trackers.
Good weekend, all!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DMSPEER93 10/2/2013 10:09AM

    Tracking is a great way to know what you are and are not eating. Keep up the good work and may your 80% become 90! emoticon emoticon

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DDOORN 10/1/2013 9:39PM

    Tracking...always my weakest link...argh! Kudos to your efforts! Love big batch cooking...get's me through the week. My two favs for big batches are soups and hummus.


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SEAJESS 10/1/2013 2:04AM

    This sounds like an emoticon plan! I commend you for going back to measuring. I, too, suffer from portion creep but hey, it's a preventable condition! Sounds like you have that one licked. (Not that kind of lick!) emoticon

Freezer is a BRILLIANT idea! You'll be able to benefit from cost savings on the large-sized frozen freggies and sales on other items like the gorgeous sockeye salmon fillets that come in sometimes at Trader Joe's only when TJ's buyers can get a really good deal. Your health is worth a freezer. emoticon

emoticon blog!

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GRANDMABABA 9/30/2013 11:26PM

    Sounds like you are doing great!

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PARASELENIC 9/30/2013 1:46PM

    Tracking everything can get tiresome, and getting lazy is sooooo easy. The problem is that we don't get lazy with carrots or lettuce or cucumbers on the salad, we get lazy with the dressing. Not the cups of air popped popcorn, the oil on top of it.

I'm at the point now in my tracking that when I can, I weigh EVERYTHING in grams. It's the only way that I know I'm being consistent.

But that gets EXHAUSTING. To save myself from crazy, there are now things that I am willing to flub on. Essentially-- ANY fresh veg is a natural flub-- (not fruit-- no avocados). I can eyeball 6 cups of lettuce and 1/4 cup of chopped onion-- because the calorie difference in those things is less that 15 calories total. Mushrooms-- 1/2 cup to 1 cup is less than 7 calories difference. Finding those things that I can cook with and eat by dumping them in is very liberating-- I still measure out the dressing, but the other things-- that's fine.

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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 9/30/2013 11:52AM

    Sounds like you are on the right track with your plan. Good luck!

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ZANNACHAN 9/29/2013 11:09PM

    I think getting a small freezer is a great idea! I really want one but we can't have one in our apartment, so it will have to wait until we can get a house. I have a friend who has one though and it wasn't terribly expensive but it lets her not only batch cook things like soups and stews, but she does the same thing with things like stock and sauces, which makes for *really* easy meals. She also blanches (which if I recall correctly is when you dip a veggie into really hot water and quickly dip it into cold water--don't take my word for it though) vegetables like kale and then dries them off and freezes them flat in cookie sheets--and then, once frozen, transfers them to bags. She also does this with some herbs. It means that she can have a wide variety of vegetables on hand to throw into soups, stews, sauces, etc. It also lets her take advantage of sales--so if a staple like chicken breasts goes on sale, she can buy a bunch and thaw it as she needs it.

Comment edited on: 9/29/2013 11:09:59 PM

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CHERIRIDDELL 9/29/2013 12:08AM

    Sounds like a brilliant plan!

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ANGORA4 9/28/2013 1:39PM

    Very good point! I have a little freezer that fits under the counter, but does an amazing job. Even a small house or apartment can have a freezer.

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1HAPPYSPIRIT 9/28/2013 11:44AM


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CHOCOHOLIC2276 9/28/2013 11:35AM

    Sounds like you've got a good handle on the challenge and I like your idea of increasing your batch cooking. The little freezer might be a good investment for you.

I too find that weighing my foods and actually measuring things out is important. If I'm extra hungry my "eye-balling" tends to be on the higher end. So this is something we both need to work on;)

I love the enthusiasm you've got going - emoticon

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EJOY-EVELYN 9/28/2013 11:11AM

    Great strategy!

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LUCYGODDESS 9/28/2013 11:11AM

    I have always tried to be honest in my tracking because it doesn't matter if I "fool" the other sparkers out there...what matters is you can't "fool" yourself...you might eat it and not track it but it's going to take it's toil, if not on your tracker on your waist and your health.

I have just started this journey again. Tried to start last week and my flipping internet got messed up and had to wait a week for them to come straighten it out. Then yesterday, I tracked everything and ended up going out to dinner with a friend and eating and drinking badly so when I got home I was too tired to track dinner and figured I had blown it anyway. Not my usual style to not take accountability regardless. So today is a new day. Going to track my food and get my exercise in too.

Wish I had room for a freezer. I live in a nice condo, but no extra/spare room for a freezer. Washer dryer is simply a closet type thing and I don't have a garage. So 10 year plan down the road is to get a nice house with a garage that has room for a freezer. Just got divorced recently and I miss the extra storage for big stuff and the garage.

We are in this thing together. Have a great weekend.

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VISUALLYRICS 9/28/2013 11:11AM

    emoticon on tracking every BLT!! Me too! emoticon ...and I DO love my deep freezer.

emoticon Go for it, Michelle! emoticon emoticon

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Cruise Goals for BLC 23

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Posting again to add my BLC Cruise Goals: Where do I see myself in 12 weeks?

I would like to be 8 pounds lighter. 12 would be nice but 8 is probably more realistic because of travel plans for October and November, and because of the plantar fasciitis that is cramping my exercise style.

I would like to be able to go shopping in my own closet for my size 6's!

I would like to have my good, healthy habits back in place consistently including sleep, tracking food and exercise, music practice, and regular Bible study.

I would like my home to be more welcoming and be able to entertain friends at home over the holidays. There is talk of starting a new home group and I would like to be able to host it at least once a month.

I would like to be mentally lighter as well with all paperwork concerning my father's estate caught up and --- God willing --- the condo sale completed.

I would like to be in a place where writing long term goals is not as difficult as it is right now! There are an awful lot of "ifs" and "whens" going on at the moment!

emoticon P.S. Thanks to those who suggested that I break these goals down into manageable bites. I am doing that as well, but the purpose of this post was to try to envision where I'd like to be in 12 weeks. "Getting there" goals are in another post! (See September Goals!)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUSANELAINE1956 9/28/2013 4:48PM

    I also like your goals. Some things, like the condo selling, are not really in your control other than having it ready to show. Most of your goals are very much in your control. Good luck, and I hope your feet cooperate. I hope you make that size 6 goal, but more importantly I hope you are happy with where you are in all ways in 12 weeks. emoticon

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HAKAPES 9/27/2013 8:54AM

    I like your goals!
I have the experience that when I formulate my goals, they tend to become reality.
What is BLC?

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EJOY-EVELYN 9/26/2013 11:12PM

    Good getting these goals in writing. This alone is a great way towards making them a reality. Admirable goals I'm confident you can succeed at. Hug, hug -- Evelyn

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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 9/26/2013 7:07PM

    You have such wonderful dreams for where you want to be. They seem very achievable. I agree that you might want to set down some steps to get you there too. I'm sure you have ideas on what you want to/can do to make these dreams and where you see yourself come true.

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ZANNACHAN 9/26/2013 1:28PM

    I really like your BLC goals--and boy I can identify with some of them (like the wanting to shopping in your own closet for smaller sizes, LOL. Though I did off-load a bunch of my old size 6's because I told my husband if I ever got back to that size, I deserved new clothes, and he agreed with me. And wanting your home to be more welcoming.... oy that one sounds so familiar. Our apartment is such a disaster--my husband promised to help with the household chores since I'm studying/editing so much, but... he works full time, too, and only has so much energy, so we have a bunch of chores only half done. *sigh* And I remember all too well dealing with my FIL's estate... *hugs*

You might find it helpful now that you know what you want to lay out specific plans of attack on how to get there.... like an exercise program that will let you accommodate your plantar fasciitis (like the seated workouts on sparks, for example) for x number of minutes y days a week. Or goals for sleep (like being in bed by a certain time or getting so many hours minimum etc.) That makes it easier for you to not only see how you can get from where you are now to where you want to be, but also to measure how well you are doing in any given week. If you are like me, your plans need to be flexible, but having plans--and sometimes back up plans--really helps me stay on track, especially when I'm juggling a ton of different things at once. Otherwise months pass and I can't figure out where my time went or why my living room is still a disaster, LOL.

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CAROLYN0107 9/26/2013 1:01PM

    You're doing BLC AND the 5% Challenge at the same time??!!??!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

I signed up for the 5% Challenge. Haven't done it since I broke my knee. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up. I need to lose weight though!!

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DDOORN 9/26/2013 11:50AM

    Goal setting has always been such a weak point for myself. Mostly I just have ideas "percolating" and when an opportunity such as my recent Cape Cod trip falls in my lap I spring to action.

I like the idea of making the home-base more inviting for folks...need to focus on that as well.


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CHOCOHOLIC2276 9/26/2013 7:52AM

    Size 6? That is my dream:)

You've listed out the roadblocks and it's time to set these in motion. emoticon

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