Weighty Matters

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Fear Is Not Good Motivation

I’ve come to understand that I cannot scare myself into losing weight or sticking to a food plan.  Being afraid of failing, of getting sick, of gaining back all of my weight, of losing the joyful life I have, heck, of dying, does not serve as great motivation.

I wish it did. If fear alone could keep me on track, I’d never veer.  Not even a millimeter off track would I step.  Unfortunately, my eating disorder doesn’t differentiate between a fear that could motivate me to stay in recovery and any other emotion-based fear.  For an emotional eater, any fear can be a trigger.

When I was a kid, occasionally out of their concern for me, my parents would try to impress on me the risk of being overweight and the potential dangerous health concerns that I faced if I didn’t diet and lose weight.  I know they hoped that being afraid of developing juvenile diabetes would get me to stop overeating, but those talks only made me want to eat more.

Right now, I’m experiencing a lot of fear and, for once, I’m trying to be rational, calm and objective about it so that I don’t overeat.  Instead, I try to spin my emotions into a more positive mindset.  It doesn’t do me any good to castigate myself and say things like, “If you mess up your food plan, you’ll gain back all of your weight; be fat and miserable.  You’ll put yourself right back on a fast track to early death or disability.”  That approach multiplies the fear and creates a mess of other negative emotions.

So, I’m really trying to focus on how I approach everything and look for the positives.  For example,when I think about preparing meals or if I’m faced with the choice whether to dive into some poor choices, it’s much healthier for me to think and say things like, “Follow your food plan and you’ll not only enjoy a delicious dinner, but you’ll be happy knowing you stuck with your program.  You’ll not only feel healthier, but you’ll be healthier.”

That’s a very simple example, but I think you get the gist.  The more I reinforce positive choices, the better.

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Identifying Trouble Times

I’m so sorry to have gone AWOL.  I dislike whining, but the last week has just been insanely busy with plenty of stress.  On the nights that I didn’t bring work home, I came home so tired that I couldn’t form coherent enough thoughts to write.

Hopefully, I can keep my thoughts gathered well enough, and long enough tonight.

I’m doing sort of so-so with my eating right now.  I am definitely a stress eater.  Stress is not an excuse, or at least not a justifiable excuse.  It just always challenges me to find ways other than eating to cope with the emotion.

What’s really interesting is that I do much better when I’m under the gun.  During the day when I am super busy — head down, powering through the projects that need to be done — I don’t obsess about the food.  I don’t have time!  Therefore, I have little issues with sticking to the planned-for food items for my mid-morning snack, lunch and mid-afternoon snack.  I can even mostly do well through dinner.

It’s after dinner that presents the biggest challenge.  I’ve had perfect days until around 7 p.m. and then morph into constantly fighting the compulsion to eat this, that or the other thing that isn’t on the plan… and then maybe eat the other thing, that, or this afterwards.  I end up feeling miserable emotionally and mentally — and sometime even physically, depending on what I ate.

I wonder why this pattern repeats.  Why is evening such a trouble time?  It’s almost as if when I’m busy and stressed, I don’t have time to act out on the stress by eating.  Then night rolls around, some of the busy-ness eases off but I’m left with the residual tension.  So I have all of that emotion, not enough to distract me from it, and I end up eating over it.

Having identified the time and the issue, I now need to devise a strategy.  Even if I’m brain weary and physically tired at night, I can find a positive action to engage me instead of reaching for food.

PACE = Positive Action Changes Everything

It will take some extra effort, particularly if I’m worn out.  Maybe I need to think of it in terms of balance and equality.  After all, if I have enough energy to boost myself off of the couch and walk to the kitchen for food, I should be able to muster enough to do something more healthy and constructive.


Eat This Not That

Eat This Not That is the title of book(s) published awhile ago.  Yesterday was the first time I’d seen it as a magazine.  There it was at the supermarket checkout line, nestled in among several cooking magazines, a few fashion mags with impossibly slender actresses and models on the covers, and various other reading material choices.  Of course I bought it, despite the hefty $12.99 price.

Quick realization: When I wasn’t actively working on my health and weight, “diet” books always made me feel guilty and uncomfortable.  I’d buy them sometimes, determined that this would be the one.  More often, I’d ignore them, or try to, viewing them as finger-pointing, blame-casting scolds.  Amazing how much power we can give inanimate objects.

I’m not sure what giant-font-size lines drew my attention to this magazing.  It might have been the white on red top banner that said The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution, the purple on yellow 148 Smart Food Swaps or something else.  I’m not sure, but I brought the magazine home and started reading.

The magazine has a lot of terrific tips and useful recipes for preparing delicious meals that are lower in calories, fat, etc.  It has an extensive section on better choices to make at a number of restaurant chains and announced their choices for the greatest supermarket foods in a variety of categories like best bread. best energy bar, best cereal, best condiments, etc.  I like that it shows the calories, fat grams, sodium and sugar content of every choice and, where appropriate, the carb and fiber counts too.

Overall, I learned a lot and got some great, useful ideas that I can introduce into my life.


Mood and Food Connections

It’s been a crazy week.  Correction, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks — all work/industry related.  Lots of work, often unexpectedly, which took higher priority over the many projects already on my list of things that needed to be accomplished.  This all creates no small amount of related stress.  I’ve never been one who could just leave it all behind at the office when I leave.  Out of sight is definitely not out of mind.  I keep thinking about the circumstances, working on solutions or tactics, figuring on what needs to be done, what could be done better, what I can bring to the table in a positive way, how can I best serve.  All that kind of stuff goes on in my brain whether I’m at work actively devoting time to the situation or not.

Even some people who are not compulsive overeaters with eating disorders will stress-eat.  (Or stress drink, stress shop, stress whatever.)  Whether the behavior distracts from that which is creating the stress, or whether the food or other behavior is a form of self-medication, it is still not the healthiest coping mechanism in the world.  In my case, it can trigger repeated compulsive eating, even when I am no longer strongly in the throes of the stress incident/situation itself.  The long-term residual effects can be much more damaging than the temporary handful of chips or extra piece of chocolate.  Then the fact that I was compulsive creates further negative reactions because I get all kinds of pissed off at myself for not handling the situation without using food.

The mood-food connection is strong.  Sometimes I am stronger; sometimes I’m not.  In order to combat the increased stress and craziness of the last couple of weeks, I’ve tried to be good to myself whenever I can.  No, I’m not always eating right, but I’m trying to keep up with the two decent dog walks a day. (By the way, I finally ordered myself another Fitbit to replace the one I ruined by including it in the wash-dry cycle.  The replacement arrives by Tuesday so I’ll get back to logging my steps.  I find it’s very motivating to go for the minimum of 10K steps a day!)  I practice my Tai Chi which is not only good physical exercise, but good for easing stress.  I keep up with my daily readings and do my best to practice self-kindness and acceptance to replace beating myself up for imperfect actions.

This weekend, I’ve scheduled a facial which is so much more than taking care of my skin.  It’s very relaxing and good for my spirit.  I have a lot of chores around the house that need to be done, but I’m also going to take some time to go and paint pottery.  A little time in creative endeavors will also nourish my serenity and calmness.  I can focus on that and not on stressful things.  Keeping my fingers crossed for calm winds on Sunday so I can also take a boat ride.  It’s been too long since I splashed my boat and time on the water is one of the most relaxing things that I can do.

Food-wise, I have yummy fresh vegetables in the house from our organics delivery earlier this week.  I attempted to make a version of fried tomatoes last night.  The results weren’t great, but they weren’t totally inedible.  I also roasted some romanesco which is a very pretty cousin of broccoli and cauliflower.  I have fresh Brussels sprouts to cook in a favorite recipe too.  Eating nourishing, delicious food that aligns with my food plan reinforces good self-care.  The act of cooking said delicious food is relaxing.  I can connect mood and food in positive, not damaging ways.  Healthier all around.


Update to the February 3rd Post about Facing a Fear:  I successfully faced my fear and climbed up the temporary tower.  My heart pounded the whole way and was still pounding when I stood up there the first time.  I was even more nervous about climbing down.  However, I did the return trip successfully as well.  So, I’m good to go and can participate in the activity.  I know that I’m not going to fall or break anything on the structure.  So, booyah to me!


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I went to a two day International Workshop for Taoist Tai Chi this weekend.  The instructor trained with the master that originated the set that we do in this form and has practiced it for more than 30 years.  He says he’s close to 60.  If that’s the case, then he is a walking advertisement for the health benefits of practicing this soft martial art.  Not only does he not appear to have any of the aches, pains or normal things that affect us when we get older, but he also doesn’t look older than 35.

I derived a number of benefits from this weekend.  We had three sessions on Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending around 10 p.m. with lengthy breaks for lunch and dinner.  On Sunday we returned for another 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. session.  It’s a lot of Tai Chi for sure, but if you were there watching you could be excused for being bored watching 100 people do the same few things over and over and over and over and over and . . . you get the idea.

This was my first time attending an International Workshop and it wasn’t quite what I expected.  On Saturday, it seemed like the instructor did more talking than showing – which isn’t what we’re used to in our regular classes where there is comparatively little chatter and explanation but repeated demonstration of the moves.

Honestly, I started to get really impatient by lunch time.  Internally, I felt myself getting out of sorts and borderline annoyed.  It was ironic to me that we were spending so much time talking about the importance of being balanced in our movements when the program appeared to be so out of balance between actually doing Tai Chi and yacking about it.

Just the fact that I characterized it in my head as “yacking” shows that I was feeling sort of pissy and diminished what was being said.  Had I kept on with that attitude, I would have been in for a miserable weekend.

At some point, I moved from annoyance to acceptance.  The workshop would be what it would be, I decided, and told myself to get what I could from it when I could.  I turned off my internal bitching and opened myself up to whatever teaching was offered.

I’m so glad that I did.  When I got out of my own head and stayed in the moment, I found wisdom and insight all around.  As Saturday progressed, I saw that while we weren’t overall as actively engaged in doing moves from the set, we did plenty and what we did advanced our understanding and improved how we physically performed the moves.  Maybe we focused mostly on two foundation moves but the instructor showed us again how those two moves are part of almost every move in the entire set.  If we didn’t see it for ourselves right off, we sure did when we did an entire set with the instructor constantly pointing it out to us as we did our moves.

One thing we talked a lot about was expansion and contraction.  While the instructor wanted us to remember to expand and contract physically, I realized that my understanding had also expanded.  The awareness was so strong that it infused every movement.  When we did the set for a second time, with the focus on expanding and contracting and finishing each move before flowing into the next, time wise we slowed down, but the benefits were ever present.  I felt the good cardio effects as if I’d been taking a very brisk walk.  My entire body felt oxygenated in a way that I’d not experienced before with Tai Chi.  This was simply amazing.

From that point on, after experiencing that and the realization, all of my annoyance and impatience evaporated.  I truly was open to whatever happened.  I stopped gnawing on things mentally and just opened myself to it all.

In so doing, I kept learning.  We must have done a few hundred Wave Hands Like Clouds, but I was never bored.  I remained intently focused on the elliptical up and down, the weight shifts, and the timing of the steps.  It was great, just working it all into that one move.

At the end of the first long day when I got back to my hotel room, I was mentally and physically exhausted, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what I learned.  I took so much away from the process, realizing that I need to be willing to give up the upset when something isn’t what I expected or plans don’t unfold the way that I wanted.  There are whole other ways that life events can occur, ways over which I have no control, but they aren’t bad.  They just are — and when I open to them, great personal growth can occur.  Living in that kind of acceptance doesn’t mean lying down while someone flattens you with a heaving roller.  It means expanding from within to make room for whatever experience life offers.

It also reduces stress, discontent, annoyance, impatience and, did I mention, s-t-r-e-s-s?

I know that acceptance is often the answer, but knowing and putting it into practice are often at two equal and opposite ends.  It’s really good when the knowing and praticing come together.

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Face Everything And Recover

I’ve made it more than 36 hours without weighing myself.  Funny how that seems so hard when I’ve made the conscious choice not to get on a scale, as compared to being away for a week and not even thinking about getting weighed.  This is turning into a great lesson.  It came to me expressed so clearly when I was riding my bike after work.  I need to keep repeating this to myself and reinforcing it in my mindset so that it truly sinks in.

It’s not about what I weigh; it’s about how I’m eating.  Recovery comes from not compulsively overeating.

I’ve had two days of compliance with my food program.  Keeping my focus on eating according to my plan and not grabbing things impulsively is so powerful. Just two days of abstinence lightens my spirit, mood and how I think.  I treat myself better emotionally when I’m clean and clear of diseased eating behavior.  I’m looking forward to doing it all over again tomorrow — one day at a time.

Moving on with a different topic focus, I have a fear that I need to face.  Something’s come up at work where more of us from a variety of departments are needed to help with some observations  Some of these observations are done from the vantage point of a temporary tower and one has to climb a ladder to get up into the tower.

The structure is sturdy.  Really sturdy.  It was built with every attention to detail, strength, stability and safety.

I am afraid to climb the ladder and go into the tower.  It’s not that I don’t have the arm and leg strength for the climb.  I’m not so fearful of heights that being in the tower itself scares me.  Heck there’s another taller, bigger tower that I go up to on a regular basis.  Oh really, I’ve zip lined!  I want to go up in a hot air balloon.  So this fear really isn’t about the height of the structure.

It’s the darned ladder and my mind throwing back to when I was so heavy that I could have broken one of those ladder rungs.  Logically, I know this is not going to happen now.  Heavier people than I go up and down that ladder without incident.  This fear thing is best summed up as False Evidence Appearing Real.  The old reality is lurking in my mind like a child’s “monster in the closet”.

I need to confront my diseased mindset; open the door to the closet, let in the light and expose that the monster isn’t real.  In short, I need to go up that ladder into the tower and demonstrate to myself that I am not too fat.  I won’t break the rungs.  The structure will not crack and crumble under my weight.

It’s a little surprising that I’m experiencing this fear.  I think it’s a continuation of me having lost a little confidence in myself because I’ve been sort of stalled and focused on the wrong aspects of my recovery.  I’ve let the doubts and fears crowd out the “can do” rekindled spirit of adventure that I’ve been enjoying — the one that led me to do that zip line adventure and the dozens of other activities I’ve explored in the last few years.

It’s time to look the issue in the eye, then face everything and recover.

I won’t have the opportunity to tackle this tomorrow.  I’m aiming for Thursday.  Wish me luck.  I’ll report back for sure!

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Goal-Setting Revamp

When I dieted, I lived and died by the numbers.  Okay, that’s overly dramatic because, hey, I never actually died, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that I fixated on the scale number as the sole measure for my success.  (I originally typed that as soul measure which, in its own way, is also accurate.)

It wasn’t enough for me to say that I wanted to lose X number of pounds.  Oh no, I had to say things like, “I want to lose three-four pounds a week” or “Must lose 20 pounds before such and such date”.  I was ruled by this practice.  It has taken me a lonnnngg time to realize that not only am I setting myself up for unreasonable expectations because I always determine high numbers for the measure, but also in so doing, I was creating huge stress for myself.

Anytime I obsess over any aspect of my program and progress, I stress myself out.  It all becomes an exercise of wondering and worrying what my weight will be any time I get on the scale.  Then, if I didn’t hit what I projected, or didn’t think I would hit the week’s goal, I’d add negative feelings of disappointment, disillusionment, despair, self-loathing and other things to my stress.

Then, in true compulsive overeater/food addict form, I’d want to eat huge amounts of not-good-for-me foods to try to squelch those horrible feelings.

When I first started learning more about my compulsive eating disorder and joined OA, I learned to focus less on the numbers.  Instead the goal was to just follow my program one day at a time.  I worked on developing self-honesty as to whether I’d been abstinent of compulsive eating.  I didn’t set weekly or monthly goals for the number of pounds I wanted to lose.

I began to learn how to foster self-esteem in ways that were not connected to my weight and body size.  I wasn’t obsessed with numbers but with taking good care of myself through healthy, non-diseased eating.

I’m thinking about this a lot today.  I still haven’t gotten on the scale since returning from the cruise.  At first, this started because of pure avoidance.  If I gained weight while on vacation I did not want to know because I didn’t want to feel lousy about myself.  Now, a week later, this has shown me how, once more, I’ve become such a slave to the numbers as the measure of whether I’m in recovery.

That’s not the way to do this for me.  The measure of recovery and healthy eating is the process.  Am I following my program, maintaining my defined abstinence from compulsive overeating, making healthy choices?  Those are the things that matter.  If I’m not paying attention to those things but monkeying around, I could still end up with a good number on the scale – but it would be a false indication of the consistency of my abstinence and recovery.

In the course of writing out this blog and working through my thoughts, I’ve decided that I’m going to shove my scale under the dresser for the foreseeable future and go back to solely focusing on my daily behavior.   Look, if I do this one day at a time and build up long abstinence, I will lose weight.  That’s a given.  However,  can let it happen in a relaxed, stress-free, natural time frame, sans the obsession on the scale number.The commitment to abstinence is the single most important tool.   I need it to continue long term recovery.

I feel it’s important to point out that what is necessary for me is not automatically what is necessary for anyone else.  Not every person who is overweight has an eating disorder.  One size does not fit all when it comes to weight loss and healthier living.  I support every individual discovering what works and is appropriate for them and salute them as they follow their own path.

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Achieving Re-Entry

Whenever I leave the Keys for vacation and then return, I feel like I’m splashing back into my regular life from another planet.  No matter where I go or what I’m doing, trips away take me out of the customary routine.  The amount of time required to readjust is determined by how long I was away, where I went, and what I was doing.

It’s been particularly challenging for me this week, no doubt in part because I was so far away and on a cruise ship and then, when I returned, I brought home a cold.  So, I’ve been sick and more tired than usual.  I started doing the liquid detox and then realized that I had to go back off of the rock out of town all day on Wednesday to a regional forum.  That was a long day.  A good one, but it also threw me out of my routine.

One other strong reminder for me is that it’s easier to stay on the wagon than to climb back on it when you’ve fallen off.  So, I’m a little out of sorts this week and am relying on not letting the little I can do keep me from doing the little I can do.  I’m definitely eating better than I did while away, which is good.  I’m not perfect, but I’m better, and that’s an improvement.  I’ve been busy as all get out with work which impacts my available time.  While the dogs and I haven’t gotten out for long treks, we are at least getting in daily shorter walks.  Again — the little I can do is getting done.

I’m giving myself this week to get my act together.  The cold is waning.   I have a few things planned for this weekend but nothing stressful that will wear me out.   I’m getting used to my own routine again and that just feels better all around.

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Home from the Cruise

Thank you all for the good wishes about my trip.  I had an amazing fun time.  I love country music and every day featured multiple concerts, interview sessions and other activities.  Plus, I met numerous nice people from all over the country – many of whom I will remain in touch with going forward.

We visited three ports plus the cruise line’s private island.  I was active in all four places.  I also walked all over the ship, seemingly all of the time, every day.  I also frequently took the steps, climbing four or five decks.  For fun, I took part in three or four hour-long line dance lessons and then a couple of times went up for the nightly dancing again.

Full disclosure time:  I ate well every day, but I did not eat right.  By right, I mean that my good intentions apparently stayed in port when I sailed away.  I definitely ate too many carbs and too much sugar.  I’m not going to lie or pretty it up.  I won’t claim that I didn’t mean to do it.  I got on board surrounded by all of that delicious food and I ate it.  Conscious choice.

So all of the activity was intended to be not only for fun, but also to partially compensate for the increased caloric intake.

I am absolutely terrified to get on the scale.  So, I’m not going to right away.  Now that I’m home, starting tomorrow I’m going to do a three day liquid diet with protein drinks and fresh fruit & veggie smoothies.  Because I know that I get a crunch-texture craving when I do this, I also have some celery sticks and crisp apples.  Those will be the only deviations.

This is a real test of recovery for me.  It is one thing to deviate so drastically from my food plan.  It is another thing all together to pull my act together and get back on track.

Emotionally, deviating from the plan did not affect me.  I wasn’t consumed with guilt.  It didn’t make me feel fat and ugly.  A couple of my daily readings reminded me not to let those negative feelings and emotions overtake me and ruin my fun.  Instead, I enjoyed myself.  I was social all of the time.  I took part in snorkeling excursions, and a bike and kayak ride.

I wore a beautiful gown for costume night and joined the parade across the stage.  I was even mildly flirted with by a charming Texas gentleman who asked me to dance and assured me I’d do fine even though I’d A) never danced the Texas two-step and B) was dressed in a full gown and hoop skirt.  I’m delighted to say that I didn’t stumble, trample his toes, or tangle us up in a satin heap of material.  I was actually on the graceful side and I do not have a lot of experience dancing in a couples’ dance.  So, booyah for me!

Even though all of the musical artists mingle around the ship and are open to people approaching them for photos and autographs, I am so reluctant to go up and ask.  Seriously, I’m such a nerd about it.  However, I will help out a friend on ship if they need someone to be their photographer while they get a photo taken.  Honestly, doing that paved the way for me to also get into a few pictures.  Not once, I’m proud to say, did I think any bad thoughts of myself or my body as in, “I hate asking these people to put an arm around my fat self.”

Seriously, years ago, that thought would absolutely have prevented me from asking.  Oh hell, when it came to pictures, I was always eager to stand in back of a group instead of actually letting my body be seen.  So, I am also proud that I was even willing to pose – and that I’m willing to share the photos here.  Enjoy!

Like I said, I had a great time and am now excited to get back on track and down to business!

I felt beautiful in this gown and loved that so many people complimented me and the dress.

I felt beautiful in this gown and loved that so many people complimented me and the dress.

After we took this photo, he played with my hair and complimented my curls.  I didn't feel too much like a cougar. :-)

Singer/songwriter Darryl Worley and me. After we took this photo, he played with my hair and complimented my curls. I didn’t feel too much like a cougar. :-)


Singer-songwriter Wade Hayes and me on costume night.  He is a super nice guy and complimented me on my outfit.

Singer-songwriter Wade Hayes and me on costume night. He is a super nice guy and complimented me on my outfit.

I've been a big fan of Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers for more than 20 years.  I was thrilled to get a photo with him - particularly since I didn't last year.  He was so nice about it!

I’ve been a big fan of Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers for more than 20 years. I was thrilled to get a photo with him – particularly since I didn’t last year. He was so nice about it!


Vacation Plan

So, I’m going on my cruise.

Note to potential thieves: My house is protected by a friend who is staying here in my absence.

Cruises offer a lot of food.  Alllll day long and late into the night you can eat and eat and eat.  All I can think is that I’m so glad that I had weight loss surgery, otherwise I could easily eat myself to the dimensions and graphic results of that little girl in the Willie Wonka movie or Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.   Still, temptation is every where and the food choices are pretty much all varied and delicious.

However, as we know, my recovery is not just about abstaining from quantity.  It requires abstaining from compulsively eating unplanned items or at unplanned times.  The key thing here is “plan” — as in I need one for cruise survival.  It’s vacation.  I want to enjoy the delicious prepared foods without then feeling swamped with gilt and other negative, destructive emotions.  I don’t want to feel emotionally deprived and sulky.  I also don’t want to be consumed by constantly obsessing about the whole thing.  I also don’t want to gain weight while I’m away.

Here is my plan.

  • Continue to follow my three-three eating plan – three small meals, three small snacks so that I eat every couple of hours.
  • Stay out of the buffet restaurant except when I’m there for the specific meal – usually breakfast and lunch.  Do not drop in and pick up a random couple of cookies just because I’m on that deck for another activity.
  • I do not need to eat a dinner roll.  I love bread and they always serve a basket of it on the table at dinner.  This is basically a junk carb for me.  Besides, it takes up room in my stomach that is better reserved for whatever yummy protein and vegetables will be on my entree plate.
  • If I really want dessert, I can have it after dinner.  Remind myself that just because it’s in front of me does not mean that I’m obligated to finish it all.
  • Maintain physical activity.  On the days at sea or when I have a later excursion time, I will get up and walk the deck and do the morning wellness program the ship offers.  I will not rely on the elevator but will take the steps – up and down – most of the time.
  • Stay hydrated.  Water is best.  Green tea is tasty.  Fluids in are important.
  • Remember that these are all positive actions that I choose to take; healthy changes that I choose to make.  This is not a diet.  I do not resent the way that I choose to eat in a healthy, appropriate, yet still delicious manner.

So, here goes.  I am not taking my computer with me and will not have phone access much while away.  I don’t think I’ll have any chance to post so I’ll catch up with everybody after I return.  Have a great week, everyone!



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