No Thanks

If you follow me on Twitter then you know that on Saturday I bought my very first pair of size 8 jeans. They are a size 8 boot cut jean from Banana Republic. They fit like a glove yet they are not snug or tight. I had quite a moment on my own in the dressing room. I have worn a size 14 for as long as I can remember. Then I was in a 12 for about a year or so. At some point this year I bought my first size 10 and that felt amazing, but nothing compares to how I’ve been feeling lately. With that said I’m more determined than ever to ring in the New Year feeling fabulous and fit.

This week I’ve experienced my first taste of holiday temptation. My friend and I run the Secret Santa Holiday Shop at our children’s school. On Monday night we had set up and she brought pizza. It smelled heavenly, but I ignored it because it would have put me over my Weight Watcher points for the day. I had a kale salad waiting at home and I knew that I would be much happier after eating that than if I ate the pizza so I said no thanks.

Yesterday and today we operated the shop from 8am until noon. Yesterday my friend brought hot out of the oven cinnamon rolls. Oh my goodness they smelled so good which is code for I don’t know what they tasted like because I didn’t eat them. Thanks but no thanks. I had eaten a bowl of cereal at work earlier in the morning. I sipped coffee and water in between each class. I brought Trader Joe’s lemon wafers and had a few of those because they killed my sweet tooth and I knew the points value. After the shop yesterday I had a hearty vegetable wrap with hummus. It was worth the wait.

Today it was my job to stop and get a box of Joe from Dunkin’ Donuts along with a box of assorted munchkins which included the special holiday flavor red velvet munchkins. My friend brought in brownies a la Dunkin Hines, but still they smelled great. Mmmmm no thank you. Again I sipped water and coffee. I had a couple of lemon wafers, but I passed on the other treats. I just didn’t deem them worthy of my points.

Tonight I went Christmas shopping alone. I ate a healthy dinner compliments of the hot bar at Whole Foods. Instead of sweets after dinner, I had a tall skinny peppermint mocha hold the whipped cream at Barnes & Noble and a dark chocolate Adora disk which doubles as a calcium supplement. After my shopping excursion I hit the gym. I did some speed work on the treadmill and some strength training. I could have easily skipped the gym. I wanted to. Normally I get my workouts done in the morning, but my schedule is really off this week because of the holiday shop. I’m really glad I didn’t skip my workout today.

It’s really hard to pass up treats that are right in front of my face. There’s that little voice that says things like, “oh come on just have one; don’t you want to try the red velvet munchkin; you can’t deprive yourself all the time; live a little.” Only I know better now. One leads to two which leads to too many. I’ve been down this road too many times. I absolutely refuse to go backwards. So unless it is something really great I’m going to have to say no thanks.


Skin Deep: Mozambique

Thank you so much for the kind comments about my previous Skin Deep posts (Adolescence and the College Years). I feel as though I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of my weight issues and part of getting to the root of my struggle is identifying how my emotions affect my eating.

I could write volumes on my life in Mozambique. It was one of those life altering experiences that no one else quite understands except maybe my site mate. I beam when I talk about it even today. Sure I had my ups and downs living in a third world country, but overall it was wonderful.

Someday I would love to chronicle my Peace Corps experience here, but for now I’ll just give a brief overview. I joined the Peace Corps when I was 25 years old and received an invitation to serve in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers ever in Mozambique. Mozambique is located in southern Africa on the Indian Ocean coast.

In October 1998 I left the United States for a 2 year 3 month assignment as an English teacher. The 3 months is pre-service training which includes language, culture and teacher training. From there I was assigned to teach English at the secondary school in a town called Chokwe.

About 6 months before I left for Peace Corps I was at my heaviest weight, 208 pounds. Despite my ups and downs during college and the progress I made with improving my self-esteem I let all that go and of course gained a lot of weight. I joined Weight Watchers at that time and I think I managed to lose about 20 pounds. Before leaving the U.S. my Peace Corps (PC) group met in Denver, Colorado for a 4 day staging event. I remember arriving to the hotel and meeting the group for the first time. I distinctly recall feeling very self-conscious about my appearance. I instantly hated all of my clothing and felt frumpy and fat.

My group was mostly women. Once in Mozambique we found ourselves living in dormitory-like conditions with the women separated from the men. I was angry about my weight, frustrated about my ugly clothing and depressed about my appearance overall. Our shower stalls had no doors on them which only added to the anxiety I felt about my body. I seemed to quickly retreat into myself causing unpredictable mood swings. Needless to say I probably wasn’t very well liked by my colleagues. I did make friends but I don’t think my attitude was often appreciated. I was aware of my negativity, but I couldn’t seem to control it.

By the end of the 3 month training I know I had lost weight. I remember getting weighed at some point during training and I was in the 170s. I certainly felt better and my mood lightened. Upon arriving to my permanent site where I would be teaching I lost more weight. I was walking everywhere. My site mate and I bought bikes and spent hours almost every day riding through the vast agricultural fields that surrounded the town. The heat made me eat less as did the fact that we didn’t have a refrigerator and everything had to be prepared from scratch. I went from being a non-vegetable eater with a diet of mostly white starchy carbs to  a diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables. Mozambique opened up a whole new world of flavor for me.

I gradually lost more weight and had to buy new clothing. I started wearing dresses and skirts. I added cute tank tops to my wardrobe. For the first time in a very very long time I wore a bathing suit at the beach. I actually went into the water sans large T-shirt. I don’t think I weighed any less than 160, but I felt fantastic. I would go out to the disco on the weekends in a cute dress something I don’t think I ever did before living in Mozambique.

About 2 months after arriving to Chokwe I met Orlando. Our friendship developed over the next few months into a more serious relationship. He didn’t seem concerned about my body. He obviously liked what he saw and would compliment me on my appearance. He never made a negative comment about my weight so I didn’t mention my issues with weight.

In June 1999 I went to a PC conference and on my way I caught my pinky finger on something while getting off the bus. It developed quickly into an infection and the medical officer told me to stop smoking. I didn’t bother to heed her warning and by the next morning my finger was extremely swollen and sore. I stopped smoking cold turkey and have never looked back. I had wanted to quit. Orlando didn’t smoke and didn’t seem to love the fact that I did, but I also had misgivings about what it might be doing to my health. I worried that I would gain weight, but miraculously I didn’t.

The Mozambicans had different reactions to my body and they let me know. A comment I heard quite often was how voluptuous I was in reference to my full hips and bottom. The women would outline the shape of my body in the air with their hands and then tell me what a good mother I will be obviously meaning to say that I clearly have the perfect body to deliver a baby.

A perfect example of how Mozambicans viewed weight is exhibited in these typical comments I received often. I might go out in the morning and hear “oh teacher you look so fat today!” I would instantly sulk. My day ruined completely until later in the day wearing a totally different outfit I would be greeted by friends with “are you ok? You look so thin today. Do you feel ok?” Suddenly I would grin from ear to ear, comments from earlier in the day forgotten. To the Mozambicans carrying extra weight was a sign of wealth, health and well-being. Appearing thin signified illness. So in my dysfunctional warped brain I preferred looking sickly. There is something very wrong with that kind of thinking.

It took me a while to wrap my head around the Mozambican mentality towards weight and body image, but in time I grew increasingly less self-conscious about what I looked like. By the time I left Mozambique in 2002 I weighed somewhere in the 160s. I had quit smoking. I overcame my picky eating habits and finally added vegetables to my diet. I discovered that I liked dressing in feminine clothing. I became more active. I was walking and bike riding regularly. Life in Mozambique happens outdoors and I learned to enjoy that aspect of life too. I smiled more and felt a sense of peace inside. Overall I felt better than I ever remembered feeling. I was also a newlywed. My life changed so positively in my almost 4 years overseas. I loved my life in Mozambique and I was very reluctant to leave.

Skin Deep: College Years

College was a bit of a bumpy ride in the beginning. I went away to college, then transferred to another out of state college before finally settling back into my childhood home just before the beginning of second semester my freshmen year. I attended community college for the rest of freshman and sophomore years before transferring to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I commuted throughout my junior year and then finally moved to Amherst the summer before my senior year.

Needless to say my first 3 years of college did not at all mirror the mental image I created before leaving high school. I struggled both physically and emotionally. My weight crept up higher than ever. By the time I moved to UMass I was not only obese, but I was indulging in some terrible habits. I was, at that time, a pack per day cigarette smoker. I drank coffee first thing in the morning and other times throughout the day which would be ok if it hadn’t been loaded with milk and sugar. I turned 21 the summer I moved to Amherst and subsequently enjoyed my share of Zima (anyone remember those!), wine coolers and Kamikaze shots that summer and well into the fall semester. It took me all of a few months to realize that drinking was not my thing. Instead I began drinking Diet Coke like it was going out of style.

My eating habits went from bad to worse. Once I moved from my Mom’s house to an off campus apartment in Amherst my diet consisted of things like bagels, calzones, pizza and burritos. I didn’t eat vegetables then and I was most definitely a meat eater. I also didn’t cook, so much of what I ate was from restaurants or a box, as in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

During my winter break junior year I did a 3 week intensive Spanish class in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I quickly became friends with the two other women from UMass. Within days of knowing each other they both encouraged me to stop wearing my big baggie T-shirts. They told me that I didn’t have to hide my body. One night before going out my new friend suggested I tuck in my shirt (gasp!). Not very fashion forward but in many ways better than the shirt dress I had been wearing. It took some getting used to but it was the impetus for thinking about what I was wearing rather than simply covering myself.

The second semester of my senior year I lived in Mexico again for a study abroad experience. I had the time of my life. This time I lived in Taxco, a beautiful silver mining town located south of Mexico City in the state of Guerrero. The town was carved into the mountainside which made for lots of hills. I walked everywhere and naturally slimmed down enough to feel somewhat comfortable with my body. I was still pleasantly plump and curvaceous, but it turns out the Mexican men find that attractive. For the first time in my life I was asked to dance at the discotecas. I received harmless cat calls and one funny marriage proposal on the way to school in the morning. It didn’t go to my head if that’s what you’re thinking. I found the attention a bit comical, but it was never crude or degrading. Honestly it made me smile. I met a lovely man towards the end of my semester abroad. We dated briefly. He was kind, thoughtful and made me feel beautiful. Our time together was short but it left a lasting impression on my self-confidence.

There was one other factor in Mexico that significantly improved how I felt about myself. I became friends and later roommates with two young women from England. They were the two most confident, brazen, hilarious women I had ever met. As if that wasn’t enough they also had those great British accents! Only a Brit can tell you to F off and make it sound like they are paying you a compliment. They put up with my self-loathing for all of a minute before one of them was fashioning together an outfit to wear dancing and the other was giving me a makeover. They simply wouldn’t stand for my negativity and therefore in order to hang out with them I had to start liking myself…at least a little.

At the end of the semester I spent an extra few weeks traveling all around southern Mexico by myself. This was a very empowering journey. It was a tremendous experience. I learned a great deal, met interesting people along the way and saw some amazing places like the pyramids of Chichen Itza, the quaint colonial town of San Cristobal in Chiapas, the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque, and the pristine beaches on the Oaxacan coast. I discovered that I was resourceful, capable and much more confident when exploring life on my own.

Family and friends couldn’t help but notice how much better I looked upon my return home. It wasn’t just that I had lost a little weight, it was that I had gained some self-confidence. I was refreshed and so enamored with my entire experience in Mexico.

I still fell prey to the vicious cycle of dieting throughout college. The negative self talk seemed to be most rampant when my friends were dating. I felt left out and lonely. These feelings were  inevitably linked to how I felt about my appearance. I set unrealistic goals on the weekend, vowing to make drastic changes just about every Monday and by Tuesday I would be back uptown chowing on a huge slice of pizza. I joined the gym, I quit the gym. I began vigorous walking and roller blading routines only to find other more important things to do with my time like hanging out at a pub with friends.

My college years were fun. I finally had friends and a social life. College life didn’t quite end upon graduation for me because I took a job on campus. My bad habits continued as did the yo-yo dieting. The little bit of self-confidence I developed remained, but I wasn’t truly happy. At a time when I should have been meeting the world head on with enthusiasm and ambition I shrunk back. I had dreams and plans, but they were buried under doubts and skepticism.

“If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.”  ~Author Unknown

Food Journal 2/10/12

After writing my angry letter to myself I got busy with my food journal. If you haven’t visited my food journaling partner in crime’s blog please head on over to Marion’s site to see what she’s been eating. If you don’t regularly read Marion’s blog Affection for Fitness please take a few moments to read through some of her recent posts. They are so well written and thought provoking as always.

This is my food journal entry from Friday, February 10, 2012.

Breakfast: Smoothie with spinach, 1/2 c frozen pineapple, 1c almond milk and 1 scoop protein powder
About 1 hour after breakfast on my way to pick up Carlos from school: an apple
Snack before lunch: I’m snacky and I just packed up a bag of Cheerios in Carlos’ snack bag for school on Monday. I left a  1/2 c. dry Cheerios out on the counter. I’m going to leave them out and eat them one by one as a way to give myself something to snack on while keeping it healthy and low calorie.
*This is hard. I want to eat the whole measuring cup in one bite. How terrible is that?
Note: I managed to take at least 15 minutes to eat the Cheerios
Lunch: kale, broccoli and 1/2c. chick peas sautéed with 1T coconut oil, 4T lemon juice, 3T water and 3T nutritional yeast (this is ridiculously addicting)
This afternoon we went ice skating for about an hour and 15 minutes.
Snack: 2 apple cinnamon rice cakes, 1 cheese stick
Dinner isn’t for another hour. I’m making pasta fagioli soup. I’m in the kitchen and naturally want to eat. Instead I’m sipping on a 25 cal packet of diet hot cocoa. 
Dinner: bowl of Pasta fagioli with about 2T grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Snack later while watching Dateline with Orlando: kiwi and banana with cinnamon, another packet of diet hot cocoa because the fruit didn’t really kill my sweet tooth
Clearly snacking is an issue. It’s as though I think about food all day long or I just need to be munching on something at all times. I really envy people like my husband who eat because they have to, not because they really care about food. I care…a little too much.
In researching ways to stop snacking so much I came across a segment from the Dr. Oz show on food addiction. In a companion article Dr. Oz outlines the 5 warning signs of a food addict. These are namely:
  1. Hiding food
  2. Thinking about food more than 1 hour a day
  3. Emotional eating
  4. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not eating (shaking, dizziness)
  5. Unable to stop eating even when not hungry
Dr. Oz points to three strategies in order to regain control of your eating habits:
  1. First think about why you are eating. If it is out of frustration, loneliness, anxiety or boredom put down the food.
  2. Journal your emotions about food
  3. Keep a food log
So am I a food addict? Well Dr. Oz notes that in order to be considered addicted to food you would experience 3 out of 5 of the warning signs. I would say that numbers 2 and 3 are definitely applicable to me though there are times when emotions are running high and I actually don’t eat. I don’t hide food. I have never experienced withdrawal symptoms from not eating. I can stop eating most of the time, but sometimes it feels like I have a black hole inside my stomach that just won’t get full. I don’t usually give in to that feeling yet it bothers me.

While I may not have a true food addiction I definitely struggle with my relationship with food. I’m glad to see that a significant part of battling my often out of control eating habits is writing about it. It has helped me a lot over the weekend and definitely staved off some of the eating I would have normally done.

Attack before it Attacks You
I have been trying to get out of the kitchen as much as possible particularly in the afternoon. Twice last week we went ice skating. I also moved myself into the dining room for laundry folding, bill paying, etc. Being out of the kitchen removes the immediate temptation of food all around me.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
I love kale. I buy big bundles of kale almost every week. I find that if I clean it, tear it off the stems and store it in a container I am much more inclined to make myself a healthy lunch. Half the battle is preparing it but once it’s all prepped I make massaged kale salads, the sautéed kale I mentioned above, kale egg white omelets or kale smoothies. Lunch is not my favorite meal. I don’t like sandwiches so having the kale on hand and ready to go really helps me to make a better choice.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun!
I have mentioned my latest fun activity ice skating. Well I actually bought my own ice skates last week. They aren’t figure skates. They were recommended by my cousin who is a hockey player. His wife owns the same kind and loves them. They are SofTec Recreational skates and look a little like these only mine are black and red.
Jackson SofTec 1500 Recreational Figure Skate Ladies
On Friday when I took Carlos to skate during the public skate hours at the rink nearby I met a hockey coach/ice skating instructor. He was there with his youngest son who was only 3 years old. We got to talking and I told him that while I really enjoyed being on ice skates I really have no idea how to skate. He mentioned that he teaches an adult Learn to Skate program. It starts in March and runs for one hour every Sunday afternoon for 6 weeks. It’s more hockey skating rather than figure skating in the sense that we will be learning the basics of skating like stopping, going backwards, turning, etc.

Guess who is going to be taking ice skating lessons?! I’m so excited about this. I’ve gotten a few funny comments and looks from the few family members and friends that I’ve told about it, but I don’t care. It is a nice break from the running. It’s great exercise. Plus it just sounds like fun.

You know for years I avoided doing things like this because I was so uncomfortable in my skin. Now I might not be where I want to be with my weight but I’ll be damned if I am going to let that stop me from trying new things. So Olympics Learn to Skate here I come!

Aimee’s and Marion’s Excellent Food Journaling Adventure!

I have been trying to get back into weight loss mode for some time now. Over the last 5 years I have successfully lost 60 pounds and kept it off. However, I still have around 15-20 pounds to lose to be at a healthy weight. One thing that has always helped me to lose weight is journaling my food. For some reason I just haven’t been able to get back into it…until now. Sometimes things just click into place like this new food journaling adventure with my great blog friend Marion from Affection for Fitness. She is such an inspiration to me. She is positive, motivating and genuine. Her blog posts are intelligent and thought provoking. If you haven’t read her blog I highly recommend that you visit. She recently wrote a post about flaking out. After reading it and contemplating it for a while, I commented that:

I begin each day with the best intentions that today is the day I buckle down, start that food journal and get serious about shedding those last 20 pounds. A few days later a Weight Watchers coupon comes in the mail and I remember how I’m supposed to be taking charge of my eating, cleaning it up and controlling my portion sizes. I contemplate a return to WW but then I convince myself that I have the tools right here in this brain of mine to do what it takes to get this weight off once and for all. I know I will feel better and I will run faster without the excess weight. I know the doctor will be pleased with my efforts. I know I will love the results because I will better than ever. Yet nothing ever seems to happen. My scale has bounced around the same 4 pounds for months now. Up/down and the cycles continues. So why am I such a flake?

I do think, in my case that there is a correlation between food management and my flakiness if you will. I’ve got the fitness part of healthy living under control, but I still struggle with the food aspect. It’s as though I use my activity as an excuse to eat without limits. 

I know this wasn’t written with me in mind, but if it was I would say thank you for calling me out on a really bad habit and for providing some realistic tips to help me curb this terrible behavior.

Marion asked if I would be interested in doing a journal exchange on our blogs. I jumped at the idea and so this adventure was born.  As of February 1, 2012 I have started keeping a food journal again some of which I will be posting about here two or three times a week. Marion will be doing the same on her blog. We will be linking to each other’s posts. To make this somewhat mundane task more fun and interesting we will talk about the following topics:

  1. Food Eaten
  2. Reflection/Readings/Thoughts
  3. Attack Before It Attacks You (Stress management ideas)
  4. Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail (strategies/plans/rules we are using)
  5. Girls Just Want To Have Fun! (fun non-food things we are doing)
The credit for the design and title of our project goes to Marion, but it’s as though she read my mind. I am in a place in my health journey where I really want to analyze the food I eat, the decisions I make related to food and how I can improve my diet so I begin to lose weight again and more importantly keep it off.
As a former Weight Watcher I loved the idea of the meetings, but I always left feeling somewhat cheated and disappointed. The leaders are clearly following a lesson plan of sorts for the meeting and once they got through their material there was little time for anything else. What I wanted was to hear about how everyone was doing, not just weight loss or gain. I wanted to know about anything helpful they might have learned over the week, successes, new recipes or healthy low point snacks. This will be almost like the WW meeting I always dreamed of.
If this interests you please join us. Marion and I would love to hear your ideas or input on our posts. We also welcome encouragement and motivation!
To get this show on the road here is my food journal from yesterday, February 2, 2012.
1. Food Eaten
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 – 5.3 oz. container of plain nonfat Oikos Greek Yogurt
  • 1/3 cup blackberries
  • 1 T slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp almond butter
  • cinnamon and 1 tsp Agave
  • Smoothie with a banana, 2 T light cottage cheese, 1 T pumpkin, 1/2 cup rice milk and 1 scoop Amazing Grass chocolate powder
  • an apple


  • a handful of blackberries
  • a Hershey’s mini


  • Veggie Coconut Curry compliments of this incredible recipe from Ashley of Edible Perspective served over a 1/2 cup brown rice

Evening Snack

  • 2 black bean brownies (I had a free coupon for Duncan Hines mixes. I bought one for chocolate brownies and mixed the batter with only a can of black beans and water, then baked per instructions. First you would never know there were beans in there. Secondly it tasted as sinful as it was! Lastly husband and son approved.)
2. Reflection/Readings/Thoughts
Reflections: I definitely didn’t need the 2 brownies. I justified the first as a taste test before my family was subjected to such horror! The second was just because I wanted more.
Readings: I read this article in the New York Times a while ago and wanted to post about it, but I didn’t get around to it. It’s called “Is Sugar Toxic?” by Gary Taubes and addresses the link between processed sugar and their negative impact on the body. I have thought about trying to go cold turkey to eliminate as much sugar as possible from my diet, but that isn’t realistic for me. I just don’t work that way. I’m hoping to explore ideas and solutions through my food journal.
Thoughts: I wasn’t hungry at all. I was satisfied and really enjoyed my food.
3.  Attack Before It Attacks You (Stress management ideas)
In thinking about the brownie issue I wonder if simply letting my husband know that I only wanted to eat one might have decreased the urge to go for that second? It wouldn’t hurt to try this in the future.
4.  Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail (strategies/plans/rules we are using)
Carlos and I were out running errands and we ended up being gone longer than expected. I didn’t have any snacks on hand which is unlike me. Thus the mini Hershey’s bar eaten at my grandmother’s. She’s a bit like a candy pusher! We were there very briefly and it was like her parting gift. One for me, one for Carlos! Not good 😦
5. Girls Just Want To Have Fun! (fun non-food things we are doing)
Want to see what Carlos and I have been up to this week?

Carlos on ice!

It's just like riding a really!

Carlos starts ice skating lessons tomorrow, but he missed the first few classes so I thought it would be a good idea to try it out before his lesson. Oh my goodness so much fun! I haven’t ice skated in probably 30 years but I was quite proud of myself. I didn’t fall once. We’ve been twice since Wednesday!

Sunday Ramblings

1. We had two parties to go to this weekend and it was my weekend to work so I didn’t have a lot of time to get creative. There are two go to salads that I’m able to whip up fairly quickly for a party or get together. The first is one of my own concoctions. It’s simple, light and really quick and easy to make.

Broccoli Slaw Salad

1 bag of broccoli slaw

half a cup of Craisins

1/3 cup of crumbled goat cheese

1/4 cup of slivered almonds

mix with about 1/2 cup Poppy Seed dressing (any kind will do)

-The measurements are estimates. I never actually measure. I just eyeball it because it’s really up to what I have on hand. I’ve also added matchstick sliced apples or pears, peanuts instead of almonds and I’ve used a lemon vinaigrette dressing rather than poppy seed dressing though I prefer the poppy seed.

The other is Southwestern Black Bean Salad compliments of Gina at Skinnytaste. If you have never visited this website please do. It is a treasure chest of recipes complete with Weight Watcher points and nutritional stats not to mention the gorgeous photos that accompany each recipe. I get rave reviews every time I bring this salad somewhere and I am always asked to provide the recipe.

2. My favorite facial cleanser is Checks and Balances by Origins. I try to be economical and at $15 this product seems a little pricy to me. I didn’t buy it again after I ran out last time and I have missed it ever since. My face just doesn’t feel as squeaky clean with the other cleansers I tried. I received an email from Origins offering free shipping and 20% off so I ordered the cleanser. I’m so happy to have it back. Now I will say this stuff lasts forever and I probably only go through 2 tubes a year. I think my face is worthy of $30 a year!

3.  Mother Nature has been ridiculously awesome this December. I never imagined I would still be running outdoors at this point, but I am taking full advantage of the clear weather.

4.  I haven’t even started Christmas shopping unless you count the fact that I have open in another tab on my browser and I have three things in my cart. This month is going by way too fast.

5.  My baby is going to be 5 years old on Saturday. He was born on my sister’s birthday. For years she has been trying to convince us how horrible it is to have a December birthday especially one a week away from Christmas. I believe it now and ironically Scary Mommy did a fantastically funny post about this topic. She would like to declare March National Abstinence Month!

6. Only 23 days until the Disney Marathon! I received my bib number. It is 8503. It’s starting to feel real! And speaking of the marathon…I will be back tomorrow will a recap of my training last week. It was a great week.

Weigh in day: Week 5

I weighed in this morning as planned. I wasn’t jumping for joy by any means. I’m sort of indifferent to the scale right now.

Weigh in #5 = 161.4

Last weigh in I was 162. I think I definitely have a handle on maintenance. The whirlwind of holiday parties and December birthdays has begun and I’m just taking it one event at a time. I attended a retirement party for one of the doctors at work last week and I enjoyed a small plate of food and I passed on the cake. Tonight is a coworker’s birthday. Nurses are notorious for bringing in tons of food for any celebration. Thankfully I only work with two people on my unit. Usually we just bring a cupcake for the birthday girl or some other treat they enjoy. On my birthday the girls brought a fruit platter! I thought that was so thoughtful.

I have to say that I have the most supportive coworkers and husband when it comes to trying to lose weight. If I say no to a sweet treat or other food they never try to coerce me into eating it nor do they say things like “come on it’s just one,” or ” you have to live a little.”

Growing up we were always encouraged to eat more. Seconds were normal and portions were huge. To this day my mother will try to make me eat the last piece of something or offer seconds despite knowing how much I have struggled with my weight. I don’t think she’s trying to be malicious. I just think she is set in her ways and to her offering food and nourishment is somehow equated to offering love and caring..

I received an email the other day from Amanda, a graduate student at Clark University. She is doing a study about people who experience a spouse trying to sabotage their efforts to eat healthier. Fortunately for me I don’t fit the criteria to participate in the study because my husband does not exhibit sabotaging behaviors, but she has asked me to pass the information along in hopes of possibly finding others who might be able to take part in the study. The following is from the email Amanda sent to me:

While it’s hard losing weight on your own, it’s not necessarily easier with a spouse or partner.  Sometimes partners/spouses undermine weight loss through acts like complaining about healthier food, gifting high-caloric foods, or even through abusive language/acts.  I’m creating an anonymous, online survey to assess for partner undermining and to learn more from those who experience it.  To be eligible to take the survey, participants need to have experienced this in their current relationship (of at least the past 2 years), and have been participating in a weight loss program for the past 5 consecutive weeks.  For more info, you can check out or Google PUBS-WL.

 Also, here’s a link describing my study on a blog post by an obesity medicine doctor, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff:

I’d really appreciate your help spreading the word about my survey as I think this is a very worthwhile and important study that could help health care professionals better understand their patients’ barriers to weight loss.

Thank you in advance for your help,

        Amanda G. Harp, M.A.
        Doctoral Candidate
        Clinical Psychology
        Clark University
        Worcester, MA

If anyone reading this might be able to help or might know of somebody who could help Amanda please email her or link to the study. According to the informational page the survey should take no more than 45 minutes and it is completely anonymous. There is also an opportunity to enter a drawing for $100 if you participate in the study.

I know there are so many people out there trying to live a healthier lifestyle but they have a difficult time leaving behind old habits because the people around them are still engaging in the behaviors. I know that only I can lose the weight, but it sure is nice to know that I have support from the people I’m around the most especially my husband.

Weigh in day: Week 4

I’m just going to get right into it. I weighed myself this morning and I was shocked.

Weigh in #4 = 162

Then I left for my solo turkey trot. I ran 10 miles at the reservoir this morning. I did the same thing last year and I’ve decided to make it a tradition. I did a lot of thinking on that run. At first I was angry, angry at the scale, at myself, at my body. Then the anger turned into a string of justifications. I’m PMSing. I’m running more. I ate more than a few of the treats I baked last night for Thanksgiving including Mama Pea’s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls and Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt. Vegan does not equal fat free, but it does equal delicious. Try them you won’t be sorry, but only try one or two then give them all away.

After being angry and blaming the weight gain on random things I started to calm down. In my comment on Biz’s Holiday Challenge update this week I wrote:

“OK so as far as the challenge goes, I’m feeling so unaccomplished. I weigh in again on Thursday, but honestly I don’t feel much different. My goal was to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year and I’ve done nothing but stay the same. I was thinking about my goal today. Was it realistic given that I’m training for a marathon? I do not use running as an allowance to eat whatever I want. However, I do realize that I need to nourish my body after it has run 10, 15, 20 miles. I try to be sensible about replenishing calories. I have maintained my weight throughout training and actually have lost 2 pounds since the actual beginning of marathon training.”

I probably won’t lose 10 pounds by the end of the year. That’s ok. I will lose it after the marathon. The scale is not going away yet because this is a challenging time of year. Food is everywhere and not necessarily healthy food. There is a party every week it seems between now and Christmas. I no longer see the holidays as a time to indulge and lose sight of healthy behaviors. I have worked very hard to maintain this weight that I am at for over a year and I intend on staying here until the marathon is over. If I end up losing a pound or two great. I suspect that the 162 is largely due to a bit of water retention and if I’m correct then the scale will return to the 160 it seems so comfortable.

I may not meet my Holiday Challenge goal, but the challenge has helped me to meet other bloggers, stay focused on portion sizes, and be cognizant of what I’m eating despite all the miles I’m running. My weight loss journey is far from over, but at least I’m no longer waiting for it to end. I’m out there running and strength training, playing outside with my son, baking and cooking more and more healthy recipes that are whole food and plant based, eating a rainbow of colors and enjoying it. I’m happy, healthy and I have more energy than I have ever had before.

I am thankful for so many things in my life on this Thanksgiving Day. Here are my top 5:

  • My beautiful son Carlos tops my list. He makes me smile and truly makes me want to be a better person. When I run I do it for both of us. I want him to grow up with a healthy, happy Mom and I want him to know he can do anything he sets his mind to.
  • My handsome husband Orlando is next on my list. We celebrated 10 years of marriage in September and it has been wonderful. I love him very much.
  • Breaking my rib in September…weird right?! I know it sounds crazy, but in a strange way I’m grateful for the experience. It reminded me of how I take my good health for granted sometimes. It taught me to listen to my body and treat it with care. It also proved to me how incredible the body really is and how deserving it is of excellent nutrition and fitness.
  • My job. I’m lucky to have a job and even luckier to have a job that I really like. I have to work tonight and I don’t even mind. I’m looking forward to seeing the girls I work with. We generally have an enjoyable time no matter what.
  • Running. I promise to not get all sappy about how running has changed my life so I’ll just leave it at that!

I am also very thankful for those of you who have been visiting my blog and leaving kind, encouraging comments. Thank you so much. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Thanksgiving Plans


OK I know it’s really Tuesday. I read about Friend Makin’ Monday (FMM) on Carrie’s blog late yesterday and I really wanted to participate. The idea is to answer a question of the week on your blog, then post a link to your response on This is a great way to discover other blogs out there. This week’s question is fitting given the upcoming holiday. I love to hear how others celebrate holidays.

FMM: Thanksgiving Plans

What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year?  Does your family have traditions?  If so, share them…(I know that some of you live outside of the US so  feel free to fill us in on other holiday traditions!)

My family always celebrates Thanksgiving at my Mom’s house. She cooks a huge dinner with all the usual fixings, turkey, gravy mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables and lots more. I am from a big Italian family so no holiday meal would be complete without some kind of pasta. This year it will be stuffed shells with homemade marinara sauce. The dessert table boasts pumpkin pie, apple pie, Italian cookies and various other treats. There is always way too much food.

Sadly we don’t have any family traditions other than eating dinner together. My parents divorced when I was ten years old. As children, my sister and I would spend the morning at the local high school football game. In my college years while living off campus I often rolled out of bed in the late morning hours and drove home just in time for dinner. I missed four Thanksgivings while living in Mozambique as a Peace Corps Volunteer. There was usually some kind of celebration in honor the of the holiday. The American volunteers would get together at someone’s site and create a Thanksgiving feast to be shared with Mozambican friends. Upon return to the United States in 2002 Thanksgiving is still hosted by my Mom.

I started my own tradition two years ago and I treat myself to a run on Thanksgiving morning. Last year I made it a 10 mile run and I plan to do the same this year. There are no Turkey Trots or other races in my area so I just get out there and run on my own. The best part is that I can taste a bit of everything including dessert later on at dinner without feeling guilty.

We have started urging my mother to allow more time between dinner and dessert. It was always eat dinner, quick clean up and then get dessert out. There was no time to relax and digest. Now my sister, my son and I usually end up taking a walk after dinner if the weather is decent outside.

For the first few years I worked as a nurse at the hospital I had to work both the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and the Thursday night of Thanksgiving. Once in 4 years I had the Thursday night off. Since transferring to the unit I work on now I either work the Wednesday or the Thursday night, but not both unless I choose to pick up the extra shift. This year I am working Thursday night but I don’t go in until 11pm so I won’t miss anything.
My food tastes have certainly changed over the years. I no longer eat meat, though I was never a huge fan of turkey and I know that I skipped it most Thanksgiving in favor of the delicious side dishes. I like to bring a side dish and a dessert that are somewhat more healthful though I haven’t decided what to bring yet.
I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday by far because there is no commercialism attached to it, just pure family together time. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I look forward to reading about how others celebrate the day.

Weigh in day: Week 3

“Slow and steady wins the race.” –Aesop

“Success is steady progress towards one’s personal goals.” –Jim Rohn

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” Confucius

You probably already know where I’m going with this. Call me the Tortoise. As promised I haven’t weighed myself since the last weigh in (160.2). I didn’t feel much differently as I got on the scale and the scale agreed.

Weigh in #3 = 160.1

I know it’s still a loss, but really .1? Maybe if I took off my socks and shaved my head it would have pushed the scale to 159. I won’t go to those lengths just yet.

I have to be realistic about this weigh in. Even though we don’t have Halloween candy in our house save for a few things Carlos got at school and a recent birthday party, one of my co-workers has been bringing in a bag of mini candy bars a night for the last couple of weeks. I have had at least two or three minis on the nights I work with her. I now refer to her as the candy pusher. She even snuck a regular size Butterfinger bar in my mailbox at work. She is evil!

I’m running a lot lately as my marathon training has really picked up. I don’t look at it as an allowance to eat everything I want, but since I haven’t been diligent about journaling maybe I am over doing it.

And then there is my failed attempt at journaling. I suck at this. I cannot find a system that works for me. It’s ridiculous because I am around my laptop and iPhone all day yet I find entering the data to be tedious. OK I just read that last statement and I sound whiny. I know that I need to stop the excuses and do it. I start off the morning great journaling in Spark People then I fade out as the day goes on. I lose track of how many snacks I had and how much I’ve eaten before dinner.

I did well with my other goals though. Peanut butter and I met up only twice and we kept it casual, no spoonfuls from the jar, just a swipe on toast or an apple. I stayed hydrated with water and tea. I did well monitoring my portions by measuring out certain foods like cereal and rice.

Goals for the next two weeks:

Weigh 150 something, anything, please!

Journal every bite

That’s it. I am going to get back in the habit of journaling a la my Weight Watcher days. I have done it before and I can do it again.

Do you journal? If so what works best for you?