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Unconditional Acceptance

I dropped by to visit with some friends a little while ago.  They’re leaving the Keys soon and I don’t know when I’ll next see them.  They, like all of my friends, have been so supportive of me in these last few months.  They have another friend elsewhere who is morbidly obese and struggling.  The guy said to me something that resonated.   “I’ll love you no matter where you are with your weight, but I’m awfully glad that you’re working so hard to get healthier so you’ll be around that much longer.”

I know that the root of most people’s concern for me has always been my health.  My family and friends have loved me no matter where up or down the scale I sat.  That has always meant so much to me, and continues to touch my heart and soul.  I wish the rest of the world was always so supportive.

Early wounds inflicted by unkind, even cruel, people stay with us a lonnngggg time.  Unless I get dementia when I’m older, I will never forget the jerk in high school who would yell, “Thar she blows” loudly across the school campus whenever he caught sight of me.    I won’t say that he singled me out because he really was a jerk and came up with equally rotten things to say about other classmates who didn’t fit his ideal.

He’s just one example.  Those kinds of abusive, mean-spirited statements made an impact and added shape to my character in good and bad ways.  I learned to echo ridicule in my head when I thought about my own body.  It got to the point where I could be as derogatory to myself as anybody else, if not more so.   I’m still unraveling the damage and will need to continue to do so every step of the way.  I sincerely hope that I will be able to accept myself and truly see my body in the way that it is, rather than cart around the old pictures even when I’m far thinner.

The other way the unkindness impacted me is that I don’t ever want to be that cruel to another person.  Whether I meet someone who’s obese, or incredibly thin, someone who’s missing a limb or has a facial deformity — whatever the case, I am determined that my reactions and interaction with them will not be affected by their body shape and outside appearance.  I want to offer them unconditional acceptance.  Truthfully, that is exactly what they deserve.  What every person deserves.

Even me.  :-)  I’m committed to extending unconditional acceptance to myself.  My body’s experiencing changes all of the time.  It’s getting better day by day.    I’m going to love myself unconditionally today and tomorrow, and then every day after.  Even when the excess skin left by the weight loss begins to hang in drapes around my body.  (Oh yeah.  I fully intend to have plastic surgery to remove the problem when the time comes.)  No matter what I will show myself this respect and be a better, healthier person because of it.

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These Are Better Days

Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening

To the hours and minutes tickin’ away Yeah just sittin’ around waitin’ for my life to begin While it was all just slippin’ away

I’m tired of waitin’ for tomorrow to come Or that train to come roarin’ ’round the bend

 I got a new suit of clothes a pretty red rose And a woman I can call my friend

These are better days baby

Bruce Springsteen

I’ve been on a Bruce kick for the last week.  Hah.  People who know me best would say I’ve been on a Bruce kick for  the last 35 plus years.   They’d be right.  LOL  I had E Street Radio (Sirius and XM satellite) to keep me company today on my drive up and back to Miami (two hours each way) for my two month follow up appointment with my surgeon.  It’s hard to believe that Wednesday marked the 9 week anniversary of my surgery!  This morning I did my official weekly weigh-in and discovered that I am down 61 pounds!

61 pounds.  Wow!  That’s like the equivalent of both of my dogs put together!  It’s been a lonnnggg time since I’ve lost this much weight.  I am now lighter than I’ve been in 15 years.  I’m lighter in spirit than I’ve been in longer than I can remember.

After the great weigh-in, the day continued to be great.  I dressed in the cute new denim capris I bought last weekend and an embellished red top that I bought last year but never wore because it seemed sort of tight.  It fits great now!   Even though I don’t see the complete weight loss so far, when I checked in the mirror I knew I looked better than I have in months.

 I dropped off two bags of too-big-for-me clothes to the Salvation Army thrift shop.  Then before I left town I visited a seamstress who is going to take in two pairs of capri length pants for me.  They’re in good shape but bagging off of me.  The alterations will help me save money and stretch out my wardrobe through the next several pounds I lose.  Woot!

For most of my life, I’ve hated going to doctor appointments.  Even though I’ve always known that my excess weight was unhealthy, no, dangerous for me, I still cringed whenever I received a lecture from my doctors.   It’s all so different now because I’m doing so well.  The surgeon and his staff are warm, supportive people.  The surgeon is very pleased with my progress, my test results, and my verbal report of how great I feel.  My labs were pretty darned good, too, although I need to add a B complex vitamin and step up my exercise.

 My overall cholesterol number has dropped considerably and is in the desirable range, as are my trigylcerides — all without my having taken my medication for cholesterol since before my surgery.   My good cholesterol (HDL) is lower than it should be and the LDL number (bad cholesterol) is borderline high.   I expect to see these numbers improve as I lose more weight and up my cardio exercise.

The only number that confuses me is the A1C which tracks the “stickiness” of sugar in the blood over recent weeks/months.  Considering how little sugar I’ve had in the last two months I was surprised that it still tracked high on the lab results.  So, I did more research on the Internet.  It turns out that my number is in line with the recommendations of the American Diabetes Association, showing good control.  I bet when I see my primary care physician on Tuesday and she compares the newest number with my previous results, we’ll find that it’s come down.  My daily glucose readings have steadily dropped, too.  This is all without taking the blood sugar meds, too.  Booyah!  Better days, indeed.

My surgeon’s offices are in the same building as a gorgeous Whole Foods.  We don’t have a WF in the Keys, so I love the opportunity to go in and browse.  Since I’d packed a cooler for the trip, so I could keep water and snacks I’d need to eat nice and cool for the drive, I also knew that I could bring home some yummy food safely.  I bought some fresh mozarella, some of their fresh prepared dinner items and beet salad from their food bars, a single cookie, a gorgeous artichoke that I’ll steam and eat tomorrow night, and a beautiful, colorful bouquet of miniature roses.   As soon as I got home, I put the flowers in a vase and placed them on my dining room table so I can see them while I write or watch tv or surf the Internet.  I enjoyed some of the food for dinner and, even though I didn’t buy a lot, I have plenty for a couple more meals.

On the way home from Miami, Springsteen’s song These are Better Days played.  I listened to the lyrics, particularly the ones that I excerpted above, and thought about how they apply to me.  I spent a long time miserable in my super obesity, waiting for me to motivate myself while time kept ticking away.  I got tired of waiting and took positive action.  Today, I put on new clothes, and bought myself roses.  As a woman, I’m being a better friend to myself.    These are better days.

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Every Once in Awhile

I missed blogging here yesterday.  Missed it because I was super busy all day at work, left late, and then had to rush to get ready for Tai Chi class.  when I got home after that, I was exhausted.  I also missed it emotionally because coming here, organizing my thoughts and putting them into words is proving to be so helpful for me on this journey.  Thanks again to all of you who come here and read and then post.  I appreciate you being part of the journey.

Today was just as crazy busy and I again left later than planned.  I’m proud of myself for handling work.  I had a project that meant that I would be out on the grounds for several hours and away from my desk.  I prepared for the afternoon by bringing a cheese stick, half of a protein bar, and a full bottle of water.   So, I knew that I would not get shaky or light-headed or dehydrated.  Points to me!

I rushed home, let out the dogs, then fed them and ran right out the door again to my  manicure/pedicure appointment.  What a fabulous way to end a busy day, right?  I love the pampering of my hands and feet and the bright colors I chose make me smile.

Unfortunately, the glowy mood didn’t last.  I came home and fed myself a leftover lamb chop and mixed vegetables.   I adore lamb whether freshly cooked or reheated.  The chop I made was deliciously seasoned and still tender.  Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for an enjoyable meal?  I thought so, which is why I cannot figure out why I was cranky and annoyed the whole time I ate.  Granted, “whole time” does not mean an hour or two, but that’s not the point.  For the first time since I started eating solid foods again, I was just pissy.

It took awhile for me to figure out that I wasn’t angry over the choices or the flavors but over the fact that I couldn’t finish the chop.  I could only eat a few bites.  Tasty bites, to be sure, but only a few.  The pissy feeling was resentment.  I was angry that I couldn’t eat more, but instead had to settle for truncated enjoyment.  Yes, yes, I know I’ve been doing great and that the excess pounds are practically melting off my body.  I’ve been feeling terrific and happy, excited about all of the wonderful, positive, healthy changes I’ve made.  I know all of this, but it still didn’t lessen the resentment.

Normally back in the old dieting days, a night like tonight would have progressed to me eating something that wasn’t on my food plan.  It’s like I would take it as license to cheat.  I sat here grumbling and resentful for a while, and thinking about how even going to eat something else wasn’t an option because I was full and overeating would only make me throw up.

Eventually, not being able to anesthetize the resentment with food led me to deal with the feelings.  I pretty much told myself to get over it.   I stopped dwelling in the pissiness and returned to remembering how happy I am that I chose weight loss surgery.   As cranky as I might get, I still don’t regret for one second that I’m where I am today and on my way to an ever more terrific tomorrow.

I’m much better about it now.  Resentment gone.  Annoyance shelved.  Tomorrow’s my official weigh-in for the week and I also have my two-month follow up with my surgeon.  It’s going to be a great day.  I can feel it.

I just need to remember that every once in awhile, old feelings will return.  That’s okay.  This is about positive progress, not necessarily perfection.  As long as I don’t sabotage myself, I’ll continue to be just fine.

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Absence of Cravings

Whenever I went on a diet in my life, and there were many, many times that I did, I always craved foods I wasn’t supposed to eat.  I always felt deprived, not of quantity, but of the actual foods.  Nearly all of my life, I wanted to be able to eat any food that appealed to me.  I wanted to eat like a “normal” person.   Of course, I never realized there is no single “normal”.  Everyone is different.  Some of us adore chocolate and other sweets.  Others want to scarf on fried foods all of the time.  There are carb cravers and those who would rather eat fresh fruits and veggies over anything else.

My older brother stopped eating meat some 40 years ago.  He eats dairy, eggs and seafood but not beef, lamb, pork or chicken.   I love all of those things except for seafood.

Yes, there’s the irony.  We who have always struggled with weight are usually advised to eat lean meats, poultry and seafood.  Lots of seafood.  I’ve loathed fish, shellfish, other swimmy things all of my life.  I grew up Catholic and prior to 1968 we weren’t permitted to eat meats on Fridays.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince my mother to always let me eat eggs, grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese on Fridays.  Sometimes, I was forced to consume tuna or fish sticks.  I doused the tuna in mustard and poured ketchup on the fish sticks to choke them down.

But I digress.  Back to the diets and cravings.

No matter how good I did on any particular diet, there would come a time when a craving got the best of me and I’d give in.  A candy bar, some cookies, a McDonald’s sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, a milk shake, pizza — I wanted them like I wanted to breathe.  They’d call to me like the sirens in the Odyssey lured sailors.  I always told myself that I could limit myself to just a taste, a sample, a one time thing.  Then, I said, I’d go right back on the successful diet.  Unfortunately, while I might be successful going that route for a little while longer, eventually I’d crash my diet ship on deadly rocks and sink my own best efforts.

One of the biggest surprises for me right now post-surgery is that I don’t experience cravings.  I don’t sit here night after night and consider running up to the convenience store for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.  I haven’t picked up a bag of miniature chocolates to keep in the house “just in case” the urge for a single piece hits me strong.   Over the weekend I bought a single chocolate chip cookie with my lunch when pre-surgery, I would have purchased three and eaten them all after finishing the sandwich.   This time, I didn’t consume the cookie at one meal.  Hand to God, that one cookie lasted for three different meals!  This is crazy in a great way.

I can’t imagine how much it would suck if I had to live my days constantly craving rich, sugary, carb-laden, or fatty foods.  Even if I craved them, I wouldn’t be able to eat them in big quantities.  I’m so relieved that, for now, I can handle the occasional treat.  I went to dinner with friends last night and ordered a steak and cheese sandwich.  (Grilled skirt steak with cheese, onions and peppers on a pretzel roll, served with a side of seasoned fries.   I picked out a couple of pieces of meat with some of the veggies and cheese and slowly ate the bites.  I had a couple of french fries but didn’t want any more.  I tasted the pretzel roll, but preferred the yummy steak instead.

This is a huge difference.  I’m not only eating according to the guidelines I’ve been given, but I also actually want to eat the good-for-me stuff.  At home when I think about cooking a meal, I rarely think of adding a starch to the dinner.  Last night’s fries were the first potatoes I’d had since before the operation.  Tonight I had meat and veggies and was absolutely satisfied.

I’m amazed.  I’m also grateful.  I hope that this remains the new normal.  Let the cravings stay away.  I want to continue to eat sensibly, including the occasional “treat” food without blowing myself completely off course.  Because this is my choice, I no longer feel deprived and I believe that’s making the difference!

 

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Shopping My Closet

I think all of us who have been, or who are, overweight, have a wide range of sizes of clothes in our closets and drawers.  It’s a good thing that I live alone because the closets in all three bedrooms here at home are packed!  There are clothes that I haven’t worn in 13 years and some I bought last year.  I have clothes that I bought when I was my heaviest in sizes I never thought I’d see and other garments in sizes small enough I never dreamed I’d see again.  Now that’s a real probability!

Since I’m losing weight at a fairly speedy rate, I could go broke buying clothes at every size.  I’m determined not to do that, particularly since I’m planning on spending money on those Promise List items as time goes on.  I’m going to a conference in a couple of weeks, and that requires a different wardrobe than my usual shorts, T-shirts and flip flops.   The other weekend, it was time to see what I already owned that I could wear for the conference.

My friends and I call it shopping our own closets.     I found clothes and outfits that I’d forgotten about — ones I loved when I first bought them and was so sorry to stop choosing when I gained weight and the garments grew too tight.  I have to say that it was a lot of fun going through the different outfits and trying everything on, particularly when so many fit great!  I also found clothes that are so big that they’re hanging on me like oversized sacks.

The oversized clothes are in the “To Be Donated” bag.  The rest I’m going to enjoy wearing until they become the clothes that are too big for me to wear.

Shopping my closet not only saved me money, but the exercise bolstered my confidence and delight and provided even more positive reinforcement.   Booyah!

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Home and Happy!

I’m back from my road trip.  My friend and I drove from the Keys to Tampa to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  I’ve been a fan since 1975.  Even though I’ve seen them in concert 16 or 17 times before (and have seen Bruce jam with other bands in local clubs in Jersey 40 or 50 times back in the 70s and 80s), it’s always a huge treat.  This 36 hour period has been one NSV after another as far as I’m concerned.  Allow me to share my glee.

One, I packed a cooler and had my snacks with me and fluids so that I knew I’d have food that I could eat always available.  We stopped for lunch at a restaurant.  I ordered a small meal, ate the appropriate amount of protein and a little carb, then took the rest out in a to-go box and put it in the cooler.  Our hotel room had a fridge and a microwave, so I was able to reheat the meal and have it for the pre-concert dinner.

Two, I am already seeing great improvement in my ability to walk greater differences and go up stairs.  It felt so terrific to be able to walk from the car to the arena, go up stairs and sit comfortably in my seat.  Hell, I FIT much better in the seat and didn’t feel like I was crowding the person sitting next to me.

Three, I had great energy throughout the entire concert.  Considering that Bruce and the band played for two hours, 45 minutes, with full out energy and no breaks, I had a lot of standing up and dancing and cheering to do!

Four, I got up this morning, had my protein shake and went into the hotel pool.  I swam, water-walked and did exercises in the water for a full 45 minutes!

Five, we went shopping.  I am down two sizes in pants and one full size, almost two sizes, in tops.  I’m smaller in my bra size too but am sort of between sizes.  I didn’t buy a lot of clothes, but I wanted a new pair of cropped pants and at least a new top.  The bra was a necessity.  :-)  These were all very rewarding to me for my effort.

Six, after the clothing store, we hit a mall.  I felt great strolling around the mall without needing to sit down every five minutes!  We had lunch, which I again, ate appropriately.  (Three bites of a Subway small flatbread sandwich, then wrapped the rest and put it in the cooler.)

Half a dozen NSVs in 36 hours!   Having enjoyed such a successful trip away for the first time since I’ve been back on solid foods makes me incredibly happy.  Dropping clothes sizes makes me want to cheer.

It’s so good to stack up these victories.  These are every bit as rewarding, if not more so, than food ever was!

 

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Road Trip Prep

I’m going on an overnight road trip — my first away from home since I started eating solid foods again.  Before I started thinking about what clothes to pack, I thought about meeting my nutritional needs.  This is a big deal for me.  Road trips in the past were like an open license to eat junk.  Fast food burgers, fries, milkshakes while driving.  Big restaurant meals when I’d stopped.

I brought out a small cooler today.  It has cheese sticks, a “to go” single pack of hummus, a “to go” small container of peanut butter, water and a yogurt.  The hotel where I’m staying serves a free breakfast to guests.  I put protein powder in a shaker cup and know I can mix it tomorrow morning with skim milk at the hotel.

My friend and I can still stop for lunch or grab dinner and I’m confident that I’ll be able to select food that I can eat and enjoy.  In the meantime, I don’t have to worry about stopping for a snack and then wondering if I’ll be able to find something that meets my needs.  I’m ready!

I’m counting that as a Non-Scale Victory because I’m looking ahead and taking care of myself.

In other news, I’m now 8 weeks post-op and down 57 pounds.  Woot!

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Body Dysmorphia — Or Not

I’ve been reading up on Body Dysmorphic Disorder.  I’d not heard the term before, but then ran across it in a magazine and it caught my interest.  I’ve spoken before about how I have “fat eyes”.  I always see myself as obese — okay, I have always been obese — but more to the point, I see myself heavier than I am, even when I lose weight.  I’ve lost over 55 pounds recently and everyone I work with tells me that they see the difference.  I still don’t.  Whether I look in the mirror or look at a picture, I still only see an obese, misshapen body.

Even with the caveat that I am still greatly overweight, I should be able to see some degree of difference with a 55 pound weight loss.  I can feel it — in my ability to move and walk, in my clothes, in the fact that I no longer struggle to put on my car seat belt.  I just don’t see it.

So, I wanted to research if this is just part of having always been overweight or if I actually have a disorder that requires treatment.   I started investigating the issue online.  I found a site that described and defined BDD.  It seemed to focus on people who focus on one aspect of their appearance that they perceive as horribly flawed or ugly and it completely wrecks their social interactions, drives them to seek out excessive plastic surgery, burdens them with shame, etc.  That site also separated BDD from people who have eating disorders and are overweight.  It didn’t seem to consider an image of perpetually heaviness as a qualification of BDD.

“Okay,” I thought.  “I do not have BDD.”

However, I do have a continuing negative self-image.  I can’t remember a time when I had a good body image.  Over Christmas, I was looking through my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding album.  I was darned slender for me!  My face, body, legs.  I even had a waistline!  I was surprised.  I clearly did not remember being that shape almost 30 years ago.

So, I started researching body image.  I took a self test and scored very high, which prompted this explanation:

You are suffering from a condition called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) which is translated as body hatred. This is not a reflection of how you actually look or how other people see you, because there are very many people who have physical handicap, or, who look different from the norm. But they do not feel this badly about themselves. Similarly there are people who look very normal in reality but they experience this sense of deep hostility toward the way they look. BDD and a damaged sense of self-esteem go hand in hand.                           

People with BDD are at high risk of developing a variety of serious emotional problems such as social phobias, depression and eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia for example, are examples of BDD, but BDD shows itself in many ways, some people develop an obsession with weighing themselves, seeking cosmetic surgery or engaging in punishing exercise regimes.     

So, I have this site telling me that I do have BDD and by reading this, I could start to believe that maybe the BDD lead to the eating disorder eons ago.

You know what?  I’m not convinced — not when there are conflicting opinions.   Maybe it’s a chicken and the egg kind of thing.  I’ve had an eating disorder, so I’ve always been obese and most obese people don’t like their bodies and that’s why I have this negative body image.  Or, maybe because I was chubby as a kid, I developed lousy body image and self-esteem and that’s caused me to always eat about it, descend into an eating disorder and just fuel the problem physically and emotionally.  Damned if I know.  I suppose the smart thing would be to consult a therapist about it and sift through the opinions to get to the real decision.

In the meantime, I’m trying to change my attitude.  I have seen the weight loss in my hands, of all places.  I can feel it in my clothes, like I said before.  I said I was going to take an updated picture and do a side-by-side comparison.  I didn’t because I hated still seeing myself in a way I considered to be obese and gross.  Looks like I need to bite the bullet and do it for real.

My intention is to improve my negative self-image and embrace my new self as I’m emerging.  Where I am today is still not great, but it’s surely better than I was two months ago.  Two months from now, it will be better still.

Hating my body and berating myself over it are not positive attitudes.  They do not belong in my every changing, ever-improving life!

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I Was Rewarded!

Yesterday, blog reader and commentor Judie accorded me a reward and an honor on her blog by passing on the Blog on Fire recognition.

 Thank you, Judie, for your kind comments about this blog and for including me.  It means a lot.

It is now up to me to pass on the award to another blog or blogs.  I read many so it’s a difficult choice.  However, today I’d like to pass it on to Jenny (aka Jennifer Crusie), Krissie (aka Anne Stuart and Kristina Douglas) and Lani (aka Lani Diane Rich and Lucy March) for creating the wonderful blog Reinventing Fabulous.  They’ve made a place where it’s okay to share about issues, struggles, journeys, progress and everything else.  Their openness and honesty engenders more of the same from readers and it’s become a lovely community of other ReFabbers.

Thank you to all of you who are reading the Weighty Matters blog.  I appreciate each and every one of you, whether you comment or lurk.  It’s just good to have you stop by with your energy.

Big hugs to all!

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New Reward System

I’ve mentioned earlier that food was often a club I used to beat up on myself.   It was also a reward.   How many times did I decide to “treat” myself with something scrumptious, rich, tasty and calorie-laden?  Special occasions, cool accomplishments, making it through a stressful day, making it through a not-stressful day.  It didn’t matter, delicious food was a way to reward myself for anything and everything.

I can’t reward myself with food anymore, at least not in the same way.  I guess when I start eating beef again, I can treat myself to an excellent piece of Kobe, even if I only eat a little at a time, but I’d far rather devise a new reward system for myself.

Most of the rewarding things that come to mind cost money.  I believe, in my newly growing self-esteem, that I’m worth the expense, but I can also justify spending the money on myself.  I’m eating so little that my weekly tab at the supermarket has dropped considerably.  I think it’s beyond okay for me to take some of what I used to spend on food and splurge on something that provides a boost of positive reinforcement to me for all of the hard work I’m putting into my weight loss and the ensuing progress and success.

I love being pampered.  I already get my nails done every other week and a pedicure done monthly.  I usually get a facial every couple of months, but I think that I’m going to make a point of scheduling one for myself on a more consistent basis.   All of the potions, lotions, masks, and massaging make me physically feel terrific and they also make my skin look great.  Super reward!

I adore fresh flowers in my house, so buying a bouquet to treat myself is another good reward.

Clothes shopping isn’t as much of a treat.  It’s more of a necessity, particularly the more weight that I lose.  So, going on a shopping spree doesn’t feel like as much of a reward.  So, what else can I do?  Oh, I musn’t forget my Promise List.  I can’t do some of those things yet, but when I’ve lost enough weight and regained enough fitness, you better believe that I will relish experiencing each of the promised activities.  I’m positive that visiting Hawaii sometime in the future will be very rewarding, and that’s just one thing on my growing list.

I guess I don’t need to design all of my rewards right now.  The most important thing is that I remember that I am worthy of being rewarded.   Yes, sure, some folks could say that living a healthier lifestyle is its own reward.  They aren’t incorrect, but where’s the fun in stopping with that explanation?

Every step we take on the journey to our goals takes effort, energy and commitment.  It’s important to remember that and pay ourselves on the back every once in awhile.

How do you reward yourself?  What makes you feel particularly great?  Don’t know?  Then what steps can you take to discover your own rewards?

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