Friday, January 30, 2009

Another Day, Another Book Winner

It’s Friday which means I’ve drawn a winner of “Joy’s LIFE Diet” book. Congratulations, Donna! You’re the winner! Please send me an email with your address and I’ll get it out to you right away.

Thank you everyone for posting a comment to try and win. I like giving stuff away, so hopefully I’ll get the chance again real soon.

Also, a big thank you to all of you for lending such supportive advice about my website being linked on a fake weight-loss blogger’s site (or as Crabby McSlacker put it, I have “colonic cleansing cooties!”). I’m taking advantage of the free advertising (let the fakers cough up the advertising bucks!). When people click on my site from the fake site, they are greeted with a “I don’t endorse berry or colon cleansing diets...but welcome to my site…” note and hopefully they’ll be encouraged to do safe and healthy weight loss rather than a quick fix.

Speaking of winners…

As part of my resolution to try a new recipe every week, I made Spicy Peanut Slaw Wednesday night and thought I’d pass it on. I found the recipe on Bell Plantation’s website (they make my beloved PB2, powdered peanut butter) and it was contributed by Kristina Landgraf.

I’d dragged my feet for months with making this. For some reason the ingredients didn’t seem like they’d go together. But I was really in the mood for something spicy and Asian, so I figured I’d give it a try and it would be cheap to throw together. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t feel guilty throwing it away.

However…not only did I like it, my husband liked it, and I couldn’t wait to get up Thursday morning and eat the leftovers for breakfast! A heads up, though. This is best served within a few hours of making it. It was OK the next day, but a little runny.

Spicy Peanut Slaw

1 1/2 tbsp. PB2 (just the powder; don’t mix it with water)
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (I used ¼ tsp ground ginger from a jar)
1 chopped green onion
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. sour cream (I used fat-free)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1- 2 packets Splenda (I used a packet of stevia which is about ½ tsp.)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (I used 1/8 tsp.)
3 cups shredded coleslaw/carrot mix (I used broccoli slaw)
1 tbsp. chopped peanuts

Wisk first eight ingredients together in large bowl. Add slaw, mix well, and top with peanuts. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. If you like it a little sweeter, add more sweetener. More sour? Less sweetener.

Here’s the Points low-down. Making it like I did with fat-free sour cream, the entire salad is 3 Points or 1 Point divided into three servings. By omitting the chopped peanuts, the entire salad is 2 points or 0 points divided into 3 servings.

Happy Friday! See ya’ll again in a few days.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And the Winner Is… (And I Need Your Advice)

Thank you to all of you who entered a comment to win “Half-Assed: A Weigh-Loss Memoir” by Jennette Fulda. While I wish I could give all of you a copy, the winner is Stacey! Congrats, Stacey. (Note to Stacey: Please send me an email with your address so I can contact the publisher who will send you your book.)

Now go out and buy “Half-Assed” because it’s good J //word

Reminder: You have until Friday to enter a comment in my blog entry Blogcleaning: Follow-Up, Book Review/Giveaway, and Smoothies! to win Joy Bauer’s new book, “Joy’s LIFE Diet.”

Now, on to my dilemma.

I was first alerted to diet scammers/fake bloggers when I read PastaQueen’s blog entry: My Four Year Fativersary and A Warning About Scammers. I had no idea so many fake sites were out there selling those stupid acai berry/colon cleanse diets. (For a comprehensive list, go to the site Jennette linked to: Weight Loss Weapons.Com: Arming You One Post at a Time.)

Now I find myself LINKED on a fake diet blog site! My original website, the one I used as a journal while losing weight, Lynn’s Journey, is listed on the fake website Helen’s Diet. I get dozens of hits a day from it, too, which has me concerned that people coming to my site from the fake site might think I endorse berry/colon diets.

I feel like I’m in a catch-22. If I post something on Lynn’s Journey about not endorsing acai berry diets or colon cleanse diets (in fact, I find them reprehensible), thus trying to defend my good name, will it encourage people to seek out such diets?

Jennette was kind enough to help me with an html script I can add to my site that will tell people who find my site via the b-word Helen that I do not endorse such diets, but I’m wondering if I need to make some kind of short announcement on the home page, too.

I don’t know what to do, folks. Any advice?

Another scam that Cranky Fitness wrote about a few weeks ago was the One Rule for a Flat Stomach scam. Read Cranky’s blog entry here so you won’t be tempted to click on that ad when you see it.

Thanks for your help!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blogcleaning: Follow-Up, Book Review/Giveaway, and Smoothies!

First of all, a big hello and welcome to new readers and delurkers who posted comments and sent emails regarding my recent blog post A Q&A With “Half-Assed” Author Jennette Fulda. You still have until Wednesday to leave a comment to win a copy of “Half-Assed.” The book is good stuff, I promise! (For the record, I corrected the misspelling in the original blog post title. I spelled “With” as “Wtih.” Talk about half-assed…)

Thanks, also, for the ideas and links about how to exercise for the greater good (see post Exercise and the “Greater Good”).

Carla suggested people who eat right and exercise serve the greater good by not costing the National Health Service (Carla’s from the UK) a fortune on obesity/sedentary-lifestyle-related illnesses. The costs are staggering. A USA Today article quoted a Centers For Disease Control statistic that reported “Americans racked up about $75 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2003.” And that was six years ago. I can only imagine what that number is now.

Carla also doesn’t own a car and walks wherever she can.

Several of you mentioned playing with children. Definitely exercise for the greater good! Not only in terms of the emotional outlet and bonding fun, but modeling active behavior for children in this age of little or no recess or gym classes is vital.

Thanks, Zentient, for the link to Keep It Simple Bike-Blended Soap. The soap is literally made by people peddling a bike. I’d work for them for free!

Pamela shared a Mother Earth News story about how Ed Begley, Jr. uses a bike to generate energy around his house, like 10 minutes of peddling for a piece of toast. The caloric trade off would mean you could add some jelly or sugar and cinnamon! There are links in this article to other pedal-energy sites as well.

Next, if you happen to walk past a book store any time soon, go in and find Joy Bauer’s new book, “Joy’s LIFE Diet,” and turn to page 240. I think you’ll recognize the face J. I’m one of several people who have lost more than 100 pounds through diet and exercise Joy has featured throughout the book. Most of the people have been inducted into the Today show’s “Joy Fit Club,” and while I was asked to become a “member,” we haven’t been able to find a time that works for Today or me just yet. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know if/when that happens.

(As a side, one of the women who was on Oprah with me, Mandy Tidwell, is featured on page 234. Small world. Mandy lost 232 pounds and is a hardcore fitness guru. Very inspiring.)

LIFE stands for Look Incredible, Feel Extraordinary. Joy offers sound advice on eating and exercise. Pretty standard stuff. Nothing scary. It is definitely a diet I would have followed while losing. She also includes several tasty-looking recipes (I plan on trying the stuffed Portobello mushroom caps this week).

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense plan or just a slight change of pace from what you’re already doing, pick up a copy of “Joy’s LIFE Diet.” If anything, the stories will inspire you. I mean, 232 pounds? Holy wow. And there are several people like that in the book.

Leave a comment and win a copy of Joy’s book. I’ll announce a winner on Friday.

Finally, smoothie love. My husband bought me a Cuisinart Hand Blender for Christmas, and I’ve been in smoothie heaven almost every morning.

My smoothie basics are: 1 cup of frozen fruit (no sugar added), ½ cup of soy milk or Almond Breeze, ½ cup fat-free Greek yogurt, and ½ tsp stevia. Here’s the best part. No two smoothies are ever alike! Some days I use raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Other days I throw in peaches or frozen bananas. I use vanilla soy sometimes, chocolate soy sometimes, flavored Almond Breeze, plain Almond Breeze…you have dozens of possible combinations. Once in awhile I’ll throw in a tablespoon or two of my beloved PB2 powdered peanut butter. It’s really good with the chocolate soy milk and strawberries and bananas.

Smoothies are so easy to mix up with the hand blender, too. Very little clean up and I eat the smoothie right from the mixing cup. No frills, and it’s cheap, too. Smoothies, particularly with Greek yogurt, are a great source of protein. Perfect before or after a workout.

I think that’s it. Just wanted to get caught up with ya’ll. Don’t forget to leave a comment to win Joy’s new book and a comment over on the Q&A to win Jennette’s book.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Q&A With "Half-Assed" Author Jennette Fulda

I'm very glad to be part of Jennette Fulda's viritual book tour. Jennette is the author of "Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir" and she blogs at Pasta Queen.

"Half-Assed" chronicles Jennette's weight issues and subsequent loss - more than 200 pounds - with a combination of humor and thoughtful, sometimes stark, insight. I said, "Aha! Yes! That's exactly how it feels!" many times over while reading it.

In our Q&A, Jennette and I focus on what happens after the loss, after the book, in the ominous world of maintenance.

We'd like your insights, too. If you're still losing weight, what are your expectations of maintenance? If you're maintaining, what has been your biggest surprise about the realities of maintenance? By leaving a comment, you'll be entered to win a free copy of "Half-Assed" (US and Canadian readers only...sorry about that). I'll draw a random winner on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

If you haven't read "Half-Assed" (and you don't win the free copy), you can pick up a copy online at Amazon or other book stores.

(Personal note to Jennette: Thanks for writing your book and for all the insight you've given me this last year through your blog and your guest post at Refuse to Regain. You're one smart and funny chick! )

OK, enough of the warm fuzzies...on to the Q&A.
Lynn: While losing weight and posting your weight on your blog, you wrote that "…public failure was not an option." Do you take the same approach with maintenance?

Jennette: After posting my weight online for several years I decided I needed to move that number back into the private section of my life because it was starting to drive me crazy. During maintenance, small fluctuations in weight are normal. Some weeks I'm up a couple pounds, other weeks I'm down a couple pounds. Yet, I felt like I had to justify every small gain and loss to my readers with excuses like, "It's my period this week!" It was getting silly, so I decided to stop my public weigh-ins, but I still weigh myself privately every day. I post enough photos on my blog that it's obvious if I've gained or lost weight. I've been pretty open about the fact that I've put on 25 pounds after a period of depression in the fall of 2008.

Lynn: How is maintenance different/same as weight loss?

Jennette: It's the same because you have to keep doing everything you did to lose weight, but it's different because you don't get the reward of seeing the number on the scale go down or the joy of fitting into a smaller size of jeans. If anything, you sometimes go up on the scale or your pants start to feel tighter.

It's also important to keep things interesting. Anything gets boring if you do it too much, so I try to preserve that sense of enthusiasm I had for healthy living that I did at the beginning. If I let myself get into a rut, I have to remember to try new activities or foods that will keep life interesting. For example, I recently I signed up for a race up 37 floors of a skyscraper as a new way to challenge myself.

Lynn: You've experienced chronic pain this last year that has taken you down a completely different emotional and physical path than weight loss. You've regained a few of those lost pounds. How have you recovered from the gain, both emotionally and physically?

Jennette: The weight gain I experienced was a physical manifestation of my emotional problems, so the first thing I had to do was deal with my depression. I got some anti-depressants, made efforts to be social and not to isolate myself, and kept a regular sleep schedule. All these things helped lift me up. I'm also still pursuing treatment for my headache, which helps my spirits because at least I'm doing something about my pain even if I haven't found a cure. Doing all these things lessened my desire to overeat because I reduced my triggers.

These days, I'm simply focused on maintaining my weight, which I've done for several months. One of my doctors emphasized that regular exercise helps alleviate pain slightly, so I'm trying to take his advice even if I don't always feel like working out when my head hurts. I need to focus my energy on my medical problem and my job. Eventually I hope to focus on weight loss again, but there are other things that need my attention right now and I can only split my focus so much.

Lynn: Do you find wisdom in your own wisdom? Do you go back and reread sections of your book or blog?

Jennette: I have not reread the blog or book recently, but I did read the blog 3 times while writing the book. I also read the book so many times while writing, revising and editing it that I think I could recite it from memory. People frequently email me and tell me how inspirational and motivating they find my story. That more than anything reminds me that I've done this before and can do it again.

Lynn: I loved the imagery of you and your body in "couples counseling," and also that in maintenance, you're on "permanent probation." Are you and your body still working out issues, and are you friends with your probation officer?

Jennette: The first few years were the happy, giddy dating years. Now we've settled into the more comfortable, couple's period of our relationship where I have to work harder to keep things interesting. However, I'm not looking for any divorce lawyers yet :)

Lynn: Another quote I like and would like you to expound on in light of maintenance/gain/chronic pain: "I've heard it said that people need to love themselves no matter what, but I think you have to earn your own love through the things you do for yourself. I had to shape myself into someone worth loving, someone worthy of my own respect."

Jennette: Yeah, it's important to treat yourself well. It's sad how some people will say awful things about themselves that they would never say to anyone else or how they'll treat themselves more poorly than they'd treat others. I still try to treat myself well and I think I'm a lovable person :)

Lynn: At the end of your book you were Jennette 2.0. What upgrade number are you at now?

Jennette: Oh, I think we're still at Jennette 2.0, but I'm working on a patch to fix some recently discovered operating system errors :)

Lynn: Do you still feel "proud and powerful?"

Jennette: Yeah, I do. I'm a believer that your weight is not the ultimate determiner of your self-esteem. So no matter how that fluctuates, I still feel pretty proud of what I've accomplished and believe I have the power to do whatever I want in life if I work hard enough for it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Think Happy Thoughts

A wise blogger wrote to me after reading my recent entry at Refuse To Regain. She said: “Don't be so hard on yourself. Nobody's perfect. And let me tell you something I've learned along the way. Nobody wants to listen to someone complain about how fat they are or how fat they feel. It gets old real quick. I learned this the hard way. Find something else to complain the weather.”

She’s right. I HAVE been a whiney ass lately. I suspected this was true even before I got her email, but I didn’t really acknowledge it until today when I was on my way home from the gas station and I listened to myself yell to no one as I drove down the street.

I was mad because a selfish/ignorant/belligerent/assholeofacollegestudent pulled up to the gas pump I was OBVIOUSLY waiting for. When he swerved his beater around me and up to the pump, his girlfriend turned around and laughed at me from the passenger seat (I think she pointed, too, the little b-word). I thought about the scene from “Fried Green Tomatoes” when Kathy Bates smashed into that chick’s VW Beatle after the little b-word stole her parking spot. I fantasized the boy and his girlfriend looking on in horror as I squealed in delight while I rammed his pathetic little car with my Jeep, and when I was done, repeating Bates’ infamous phrase: “Face it girls, I’m older and have more insurance.”

But the gas station was packed, there were too many witnesses, and the police station was just down the street. Not to mention I might have blown the place up, gas being explosive and all.

What’s at the heart of my rants and complaints and negative self-loathing is sometimes easy to identify. Other times…like now? Not so easy. But since losing weight and changing my attitude and and blah blah, blah, I’ve learned I have to sit down with myself and dig into the feelings rather than ignore them. Ignoring them only causes food to go in my mouth. Well, after the yelling in the car, that is.

When I got home, I started figuring it all out by thinking of something happy, namely Claire, which led me to remembering one of the songs my daughter sings to her when Claire’s sad. It’s from the show Yo Gabba Gabba (which you have to be a toddler to appreciate) and it’s called “Think Happy Thoughts.” I’ve watched Cassie sing this to Claire several times, and by the time Cassie gets to the chorus – “Think happy thoughts, happy thoughts / That’s what you gotta do. / Think happy thoughts, happy thoughts / and a smile’ll come back to you” – Claire’s tears have dried and she’s back to her happy self again.

So I’m thinking maybe it’s not always about figuring out WHY I feel the way I do. Maybe I just need to deal with the feeling, acknowledge it, and find a way to move on that doesn’t cause me to repeat the hurtful/angry/self-abusing behavior. Maybe I just need to think happy thoughts sometimes to get over the rough spot instead of shoving food in my mouth or whatever it is that satisfies me for two minutes.

My happy thoughts today of Claire led me to a satisfying emotional place. I no longer want to pummel that kid’s car. I’m not calling myself “fat” or any other name. I’m not “all there and together” necessarily, but I can feel what I feel in the moment without further self-degradation. And I’m not bitching about how fat I am or feel. That’s useless. Makes no sense.

Sure, the things that are bothering me and worrying me are still present, but there’s no need to take it out on myself or others. Life’s just like that sometimes. Hormones, bad moods, worries and complaints. That’s just the way life is. You gotta take it all in stride and think happy thoughts sometimes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Exercise and the "Greater Good"

As I watched my husband shovel the snow that was supposed to measure 1-3 inches when we woke up but magically turned into 8-10 overnight, like evil fairy dust, I thought about something PastaQueen wrote last month. In her blog entry, “Going to the gym is ridiculous,” she said: “I think it odd that our culture has developed to a point where we now have to set aside a block of time every day to do something our bodies were meant to do everyday anyway.”

Wouldn’t it be awesome if all the energy we spent exercising could go to some greater good beyond just sculpted calves and lower cholesterol? I’m just an English major, but surely some scientist could find a way to hook up those treadmills, stair steppers, ellipticals, bikes, and rowing machines to generate electricity, right? Think of it, especially with all the newbies joining gyms in January. In just a few weeks we could probably generate enough electricity to keep New York City in lights for months! We’d be more than simply mice on wheels.

I just came in from feeding birds. Their feeders were covered in snow and I felt guilty sitting here eating a smoothie while they pecked away at the empty containers hoping to dislodge just one, sad little sunflower or thistle seed. So I put on my “snow” pants (the size-larger stretch pants that go over the real pants), pulled on my boots, wrapped a scarf, zipped up the liner jacket, then the outer jacket, and put on a hat and gloves. For 15 fifteen minutes I plodded through knee-deep snow, then went back in the house, stripped back down to normal clothes, and sat in my office and watched several dozen happy birds eat lunch.

Fifteen minutes on the elliptical doesn’t give me that kind of warm fuzzy.

I know the economy is in the tank and he’s got more important things to think about then how to generate energy from crazyass gym folks, but maybe Barack Obama could ask his new energy secretary, Steven Chu, to find a few minutes to ponder it. He’s a physicist. Isn’t that what physicists do? Think all day about movement?

Call me Buck Rogers I guess. All this snow is making me a little punchy. But it’s also making me think outside the box of gym equipment. We’re supposed to keep exercise interesting and fun or it gets boring and we quit, right? So what kinds of things do you do or would like to do that incorporate exercise and the greater good, beyond your own physical health?

I’ll think about it, too, and let you know what I come up with. Besides feeding birds and shoveling my next-door neighbors walk, I’m at a loss. I look forward to your thoughts.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Year, New Moves

I think what I did to my thighs today is illegal in 20 states. Seriously. I’m only five hours out of my workout and my thighs are giving me the whole, “Are you freaking KIDDING me?” routine.

I’m pretty protective of my lower body because of all the arthritis and whatnot. I want to hang on to what knee and toe joints I have left for a few more years before becoming the Bionic Woman. So mostly I’ve done just cardio to strengthen my calves, hamstrings, glutes, etc.

However, a few months ago, I bought a used stepper. You know the ones they use in step aerobic classes? And I started using it to do calf raises. I hold a dumbbell in my hand and slowly do one leg at a time. I started at 8 pounds, 12 reps/2 sets and am now on 10 pounds, 15 reps/3 sets. I love the groove I’ve developed in my inner calf. It’s there somewhere under all these layers of clothes!

Then last week when my biceps tendonitis flared up in my right arm, I had to lay off the heavy upper body weights and modify my workout. In the back of my mind I thought maybe I would try a little lower body stuff to fill in for what I was going to lose for awhile in upper body exercise, but I wasn’t sure what to try.

I took care of the upper body first. I found some shoulder rehab exercises on YouTube and dug out one of my favorite strength training books, Strength Training for Women by Joan Pagano. I picked some modified upper body moves that will help get me back in lifting action pretty quickly – three shoulder, two biceps, one chest, and two triceps lifts. I miss the barbell, but it’s all for the greater good, I keep telling myself.

Nosing further through the book, I checked out the lower body section just for kicks. The knee extensions, ball bridge and inner-thigh lift looked like things I could do. Hmmm….. Flipping through the pages, out dropped a short article I’d torn out of a magazine months ago on how to “reduce my saddlebags.” (Question: Does anyone outside the desert southwest, South Dakota and Montana even know what saddlebags are anymore?) Anyway, using the book and the “saddlebag-reduction” leg rotation, I developed a 3 set routine. I bought ankle weights at WalMart and tried it all out this morning.

Sixty minutes. That’s how long it took me to get through my revamped rehab, and upper and lower body circuit. That was in addition to the the cardio warm-up and the abs workout afterwards, which also included a new move – side twists with a 5-pound weighted ball. I’m pretty sure my obliques will be bitching at me tomorrow, too.

Just when you think you’re in shape, another muscle comes around and yells, “Hey!! Guess what? I’m part of your body, too!!”


It’s a good pain, though. The kind that says, “Good job. You’ll appreciate this come tank-top weather.” For now, though, I’ll muscle through and keep stretching. I love stretching. Feels. Soooo. Good.

How do you mess…I mean MIX…things up? I’m always looking for knee-, shoulder-, toe-friendly moves. Got anything compelling I have to try?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Something About Curry…

I must have been Indian or a 16th-century traveling Brit in a past life because there’s something about the smell of curry that makes me feel like I’m home.

It’s a relatively new smell for me. I’m a Norwegian from Minnesota. We don’t put curry on boiled rutabagas or lutefisk. My husband introduced me to curry when we met 12 years ago, but I rarely cooked with it until last year when I discovered I really like Indian food. Its taste is so calming and homey.

I made curried bean soup tonight. I sautéed leeks and onions and garlic and curry for 8 minutes, and it was 8 minutes of total nasal heaven. Standing in the kitchen in a weird scent orgasm, I thought about other foods that make me feel…I don’t know…safe? Happy? Can smells make us happy? I guess so if I’m mentioning orgasms! *giggle*

There are obvious comfort food smells like turkey on Thanksgiving, ham on Easter, duck or goose on Christmas. But I’m thinking more of the everyday.

I love the smell of sautéing garlic because it reminds me of when Larry would cook me my favorite scallops dinner and I’d curl up on the couch listening to classical music and reading a magazine or book. I simply loved those moments.

I love the smell of vegetable beef soup. Even though I don’t beef, I make this soup for Larry and the smell takes me back to my mother’s and grandmother’s kitchens. They always found ways to make due with what they had – some beef cubes, a few root vegetables, a bay leaf. Amazing what you can make with so little.

I love the smell of brownies fresh from the oven. Not homemade brownies. Duncan Hines brownies. Mom used to make them at the last minute when I told her it was my turn to bring treats to some church youth function. God forbid I gave her advanced warning, but she always had a box of brownie mix on hand.

I love the smell and sound of popcorn popping. Every Saturday growing up, my mom would make popcorn and the family would watch the Carol Burnett Show. Thirty-five years later, when I stick a bag of popcorn in the microwave, I still think of those days.

It’s not just food smells that make me feel safe. There’s a type of incense I burn that always calms me for whatever reason. In fact, I’m going to go burn one now. Even though the house smells of curry and I feel warm and safe, that incense sounds really good right now, too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Q&A With Dietgirl Shauna Reid!

While I’d love a face-to-face interview with my favorite Aussie-turned-Scot, Shauna Reid (not to mention a photo op with that lovely face and svelte tush of hers), I’m very happy to have the second best thing, a Q&A here Lynn’s Weigh as she promotes the U.S. release of her book, “The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl,” a highly recommended read whether you’re losing, maintaining or just looking for a feel-good, hero-wins-in-the-end kind of story.

I “met” Shauna last year after she posted a comment on one of my blog entries. When I clicked on the link in her name which led me to her Dietgirl blog, my life got a jolt of fun and I’ve been a devoted reader ever since. I may not have known Dietgirl as I was going down the scale, but I’m glad to have found her in maintenance because Shauna’s the kind of “real” you need when you’re at goal and looking around thinking, “What next?”

Keeping it real here with me today: Dietgirl, Shauna Reid.

Lynn: You began in 2001 when blogging/Internet journaling was still quite new. How many personal weight-loss blogs were you reading at the time and how have things changed in 8 years regarding personal weight-loss blogs, i.e. the quantity and the quality? Do you see any trends?

Shauna: The first weight loss journal I ever found was called Getting2Goal. There was a photo of a woman standing inside her old fat pants, holding out the waistband in the traditional weight loss pose. I was so amazed that there was a normal, everyday person who had achieved what I needed to do that I burst into big snotty tears o' joy. I felt hope for the first time. Ahhhh.

Back then I read about half a dozen journals. There's been a massive explosion in numbers as the technology has made it easier to get started. I usually find quality blogs via comments - on my own blog or someone else's. If there's wit I click :)

As for trends, I've noticed a heartening shift away from traditional dieting talk (deprivation, short-term fixes, on/off wagon speak) and a greater interest in long term change, mindful eating, positive thinking and not torturing ourselves!

Lynn: In your book you said you hated change. You’ve made many changes in your life since you started losing weight. What was it that spurred you on to make changes even though you were afraid or reluctant?

Shauna: I think I just got a real taste for it! Once I had a bank of small triumphs it started to tip the balance away from my history of perceived failures. If I could change my eating habits maybe I could learn to exercise... if I could get bold enough to join a gym, perhaps I could be bold enough to find a better job... then get bold enough to start travelling... etc. The momentum started to build along with my self-belief.

Lynn: Your readers are fiercely loyal. Were you supported by fellow bloggers and/or your readers when making changes? Did you ever discuss your reluctances with your readers?

Shauna: Bloggers and readers have been fantastic. Even back in 2001 when comments weren't yet invented, I'd get encouraging messages in the guestbook. I had zero confidence back then, so the more I wrote about my escapades and knew that people were cheering me on, the more I felt compelled to hang in there with the big changes.

I still tend to write like it's 2001 and I'm chitty chatting to the same half dozen people. There's more readers now but I see it as a cozy retreat. I've blabbed on about my problems as they were happening, such as my visa/wedding woes and a knee injury that dragged on forever, which leaves you open for unsolicited advice and/or criticism. But I've had 99 percent positive experiences and found many ideas and tricks that I'd never have discovered on my own.

Lynn: Regarding body image, you said you’ve been to hell and back in your body and finally appreciate what it can do. Is this an attitude you’ve settled into over the years or do you still have to remind yourself sometimes that you love your body? Also, do you still find yourself automatically wanting to make an excuse for your body as you did so many times in your book?

Shauna: I like my body most days, especially when I take good care of it with healthy food and regular exercise. But if I'm in a crappy mood then try on a dress in a shop and it looks awful, it's all easy to poke an accusing finger into my belly. I said in another interview recently that my fat is a state of mind, so I try to do the work to keep the endorphins flowing!

As for excuses, I get annoyed that I can't pull the I'm Too Fat card when I'm struggling with a fancy move at kickboxing or slogging up a Scottish hill with my husband. It's my brain holding me back, not my body, and it's hard to admit, "Wow... I really do whine a lot."

Lynn: I know many people who are losing weight or want to lose weight believe that when someone gets to goal, all their worries are gone. I’m two years into maintenance and like you, often wonder if I am “one chocolate bar away from being” 300 pounds. What do you tell yourself in that moment to talk yourself down from that ledge?

Shauna: I remind myself that I've had setbacks many, many times before and managed to bounce back! There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to me and my weight shenanigans, so if confronted with an empty chocolate wrapper or nasty scale number I quite literally say to myself, The universe is not collapsing. You've been here before! You know what to do!

Lynn: When your book originally came out, you were “outed,” so to speak, as the “diet lady.” You said you felt exposed. How have you coped with your popularity and how have you prepared yourself, if at all, for an American audience?

Shauna: I try not think about how many people are reading otherwise I'd be too self-conscious to ever say a word! Like I said above, in my head I still treat the blog like a bitching session with friends over coffee. That said, I can't help worrying sometimes about who's lurking and how my words might be interpreted. I'm careful not write anything I wouldn't be comfortable telling my mum or my work colleagues; that's my acid test!

In terms of coping with popularity, I've felt guilty for not being able to keep up with reader emails. I remember how I felt when I started out and wanted to talk to someone who understood. I didn't deal well with this when the book came out in the UK last year, so now with the US release I'm trying to be more prepared with FAQs and more useful links on my blog so I can be helpful without going bonkers!

Lynn: In that vein, you said that you have a “strong tendency to hide from the world when things get scary.” It’s pretty hard to hide when you have a blog and a book. What kinds of things do you do for yourself to temper that need to hide?

Shauna: Despite having so many words in the public domain, I only write about 2 percent of what happens in my life so I don't really feel the need to freak out and run away. I've set clear boundaries about what's bloggable! I also have a policy of "write when you have something to say and go play outside when you don't" which means if I'm feeling a bit exposed I just won't write for a wee while. It's when I force myself to churn out a blog entry I end up saying something I regret :)

Lynn: I think you really hit on the biggest obstacle people find in maintenance when after losing 144 pounds you said: “You know what’s funny about losing a stack of weight? Nothing really changes. All that happens is that you lose the thing upon which you used to hang all your neuroses. Fat has shape and substance; you can poke it with a stick. It’s a scapegoat and a handy excuse. Once you start to lose it, you realize you’re stuck with the same moronic core.” For many people who get to a “goal weight,” they feel lost in this unfamiliar territory and find comfort in old eating habits. What clicked for you? How did you accept that you were “stuck with the same moronic core” and move into this new territory without reverting back to old habits?

Shauna: I've learned to accept my "moronic core" in the same way I learned to accept my stretch marks and wobbly butt. I was strangely pleased to realise that I really am lazy; that it wasn't just the fat cliché. So I bought some 20-minute workout DVDs and stashed dumbbells under the bed so I can work out without having to leave the house. Once I made my peace with even the most dodgy aspects of my personality they became easier to deal with.

Lynn: About that massage you talked about at the end of your book (fabulous ending, by the way). Are there other “body discoveries” you have left to tackle?

Shauna: The full body massage was pretty huge! I think the only thing that could confront the body image demons more than that would be a Brazilian (no thanks) or running naked through the village where I live. I think I'll go for more genteel discoveries, like seeing how I cope with skis or roller skates, or perhaps horse riding. I always fancied that but worried I would hurt the horse.

Lynn: What’s next for Diet Girl? Will her adventures continue or will eventually go into superhero retirement?

Shauna: I'll keep Dietgirl going for as long as I still feel the need to write. Right now I'm still stumbling along with maintenance so being part of this blogging community is still very important to me. That said, in 2009 I want to make more effort to write and do non-fat things - explore Scotland, get better at taking photos, learn to make a soufflé - all those little things I've kind of put off the past few book-crazy years :)

To read a guest post by Shauna in which she discusses her thoughts on weight maintenance, head over to my other blog,
Refuse To Regain and read “After the Happy Ending.”

Cheers, Shauna! Thanks for making Lynn’s Weigh (and Refuse To Regain) part of your Worldwide Web tour.

Monday, January 12, 2009

No Nore Navel Gazing (Or, How Happiness is a Pink Marshmallow)

I sometimes hate snow and sometimes love snow. It usually depends on whether I have groceries in the house.

I especially loved snow when my daughter emailed photos of Claire in her Michelin Man snowsuit. Saturday was the first time she’d really seen the stuff since she was too little last year to play outside. It made me happy despite the fact I hadn’t seen her in real life in almost two weeks. Claire lives just 75 minutes from me, but snow has kept us apart and has left me, in many ways, unhappy. But today there was a break in the weather and I trekked down to Pittsburgh in the morning and left behind my workout plans.

Plans, shmans. My body isn’t going anywhere in a day, physiologically speaking. I’ll hit the cardio tomorrow.

Did I just say that?

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about happiness (season affective disorder peaks for me in January) and last weekend I found an article titled “Six common barriers to personal happiness and fulfillment and how to overcome them.” I’m pretty sure it was posted on CNN, but I forgot to copy the web address. I only copied the section I wanted to post here:

Happiness Barrier No. 6: Navel-gazing

Solution: Connect with others

How important are social networks to your happiness? Perhaps even more important than you realized. A recent 20-year study of more than 4,000 people showed that happiness is influenced not just by your immediate friends and family. The happiness of a friend of a friend of a friend – someone you’ve never even met – can also influence your happiness. It turns out that happiness can spread through social networks, like a virus.

Unfortunately, many people spend so much time by themselves navel gazing, they don’t benefit from this positive “contagion.”

The more self-absorbed you are, the more your world closes in, and the less realistic you become, all of which produces a vicious circle. “You become oblivious to the needs of others, and the world shrinks still more, making you less able to see outside yourself.” If asked, ‘Why are your problems so special?” says Jinpa, you might respond, “Because they’re mine!”

“If you have such a huge ego, you’re setting yourself up as a huge target, which can easily get hit,” Jinpa says. But using a “wide-angle lens” instead helps you see connections you wouldn’t otherwise see, such as the universality of suffering. All it may take is having a loved one diagnosed with a serious disease to realize how many people are grappling with similar challenges. Feeling joined by others on this journey provides some comfort and happiness.

The straightest path to making connections like these? Compassion and caring for others.

Even primates seem to understand this, says Robert M. Sapolsky, PhD, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers and research associate with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya. Primates that groom each other after a stressful event experience a reduction in blood pressure. The clincher? Grooming others has a greater impact than getting groomed, says Sapolsky.

Compassion engages us with others, removes isolation, builds resilience, and leads to deep fulfillment, says Doty. “Without compassion, happiness is simply short-lived pleasure.”

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, may have said it best: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

I’m a social hermit and I navel gaze more than I realized. When I read that article, I started thinking about that “contagion” and how I contribute to other people’s happiness. Not that I am responsible for how other people feel in general, but my actions and words certainly can enhance or derail someone’s moment, and that can spread into their entire day. Did I respond the most effective way I could to an email? Did I sincerely thank the cashier or car wash attendant I encountered today? Did I reach out to someone who needed a helping hand?

I’m more inclined to thank people, offer a smile to strangers, or write more compassionately after encountering a happy moment, like today with Claire. But I want to be more compassionate in those moments when it’s snowing, so to speak, and when I’m not so happy. I don’t want to be a navel gazer, especially considering my navel isn’t much to gaze at – lol.

We used to sing a song in Sunday School that went, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands. If you're happy and you know it clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it, if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”

If you’re happy and you know it, how do you show it? If you’re not happy, how do you get happy? What do you do to get past happiness barrier #6: navel gazing?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Biceps Ligaments and Staying Mindful

I wasn’t going to mention it here because I thought it would just go away. But when I got my Sunday Reflection today from the Insight Meditation Center (and because the ice/ice/heat regimen isn’t working like I hoped), I decided to blog about what I think is a torn bicep ligament.

Gil Fronsdal is the lead teacher at IMC. He wrote the following piece about radical acceptance and used a sick child as the example. With all due respect to this awesome Buddhist teacher, I inserted “bicep ligament” for “child” in his essay to make the writing more relevant to my situation. I really needed to read this today. I haven’t fully accepted or digested it all, but it will be part of my mindfulness training over the next few days.

Here’s my edited version of Gil’s writing:

“In Mindfulness practice we are practicing a Radical Acceptance of the present moment, no matter what we find there.

“If our bicep ligament is ill, we would want to respond to the situation as skillfully as we are able to. If we use our energy bemoaning that it shouldn’t be this way, that our bicep ligament should not be sick – how could this happen, etc. – the result is a conflicted mind, which is less capable of attending to our bicep ligament. Our attention is entangled in our own conflict, instead of being fully available to our bicep ligament. If we can radically accept the moment, the truth of the situation, that our bicep ligament is ill, and not be in conflict with it, we can be free to attend to our bicep ligament with a more peaceful mind. We will do everything we can to help our bicep ligament heal, but we will be doing it much better if our attention is on what is needed in the present, rather than resisting the fact that the situation exists.

“The practice of mindfulness trains us to learn to accept the moment, no matter what it brings, even if we don’t like it. When we accept the moment, we can respond to it more skillfully. If we sit down to meditate and find the mind is agitated, can we accept that agitation is present? Can we say ‘Ahh! That’s what agitation is like!’ Be curious about it, be interested in it, be non-judgmental.”

My shoulders are messed up, especially the right one. Arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis…and still I lift weights like I’m 20 years old. Today, as I attempted to do the rehab exercises I’ve been doing for more than a year, I had to admit that it’s time to make some decisions. My orthopedic surgeon wants to cut me open, my chiropractor does ultrasound, my family physician can provide me with anti-inflammatory meds if I want (which I don’t take…not even Advil).

But here’s the deal. I’m not sure what to do. The pain is real. The inability to move is real. My shoulder is fragile and in need of my attention. My full attention. No more denying, no more macho lifting. I have to be present to the pain and the source of the pain. I can’t run away from it anymore.

I’m scared, I admit. Not only is my right arm super messed up, but my left arm is starting the same twinge, too. I worry I’ll gain 300 pounds. I worry my blood pressure will go up if I gain weight. I’ll get diabetes and arteriosclerosis. I just know it.

OK, so I don’t “just know it.” But see how easy it is for the mind to wander into panic?

I’m going to work on staying in the present moment. I’m going to deal with what I know, not what might happen. I’m going to eat well, do my cardio and abs workouts, and give my arms a break until I find out what’s going on. I’ll take a passive approach for now, chilling and meditating and asking Claire to climb on to my lap rather than pick her up.

I suspect many of us have a "biceps ligament" issue. It might be physical. It might be emotional. Rewrite Gil's essay with your issue. How does it look and feel after reading it that way? Just think about it and maybe make a plan to deal with it, here and now, in real life and not in the scary unknown future.

Thanks for listening. No need to respond. I’m just grateful I have this forum to express the things that make me happy as well as scare the crap out of me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bok Choy Rocks. Word.

I feel like I speak a foreign language when I go to our local grocery stores.

“No, that’s bok choy, not lettuce.”
“No, that’s zucchini, not a cucumber.”
“They’re artichokes.”
“It’s spaghetti squash. Yes, the stringy kind.”
“Hearts of palm. They come from palm trees.”
“Pita is a type of bread.”
“No, portabella mushrooms are naturally darker than button mushrooms. No, I won’t get sick eating them.”
“Yes, I’m making a big salad.”
“Yes, ‘vegetarian’ means I don’t eat meat. No. None. No, I don’t miss it. Really. I don’t.”

Seriously. Every time I go shopping, I either have to correct the cashiers so I get charged the right price for the right item or I get asked what all the vegetables are for. It’s a great opportunity to teach people about the wonders of vegetables and other healthy food, but most just laugh and brag about how much they hate vegetables. It makes me sad.

But….I can’t change the world in a day, right? So on to today’s quickie post about my new favorite food: bok choy.

I have Lyn over at EscapeFromObesity to thank for introducing me to a baby bok choy recipe she had on her site last summer. I modified it a bit and use regular bok choy (since it’s all I can find around these parts), so I thought I’d share the recipe I tested (and adored) yesterday while waiting for Mr. Elliptical Fix-It Man to fix my elliptical. Which he couldn’t. Again. This was his third try, too. Poor guy. Said he’d be back next week with another part. I just wish he’d bring me a new machine.

But I digress.

Bok Choy ala Lynn
Makes 2 servings at 2 Points per serving or 1 Bigass serving for 5 Points

13-16 ounces bok choy, chopped, rinsed and drained
½ C thinly sliced red onion
2-3 (or more) cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 ½ T slivered almonds (dry roasted beforehand in a pan or not, whichever you prefer)
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Spray a large fry pan with non-stick spray. Sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until slightly brown. Add oil, almonds and pepper flakes and stir fry for another few minutes. Add the bok choy and stir until the dark green leaves are wilted. You’ll want the white stalks still crisp.

That’s it. Very simple and very healthy: 8 ounces of bok choy has just 30 calories, only a trace of fat, 5 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, nearly 4 grams of protein, 240 mg of calcium (that’s nearly 25 percent of daily recommended calcium intake for women 18-50) and 570 mg of potassium (strive to get 4,700 mg a day).

I’m going to add bok choy like I would spinach to vegetable soup and eat it as is in a salad, too. The key around my neck of the woods is finding bok choy that doesn’t look like it just got off a 2-year boat trip from China. It’s that way with leeks, too. But I won’t get started on that. Promise.

So tell me, are you experimenting with new foods this new year? What are some of your favorites? I’m always looking for new food finds. Thanks for sharing!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Slow Steady Drip

“With dripping drops of water, even a water jug is filled.” Dhammapada 121-122

How many times have you read an inspiring quote like this and said, “Yeah…I’m going to remember that,” only to fall back five minutes later into the same old same old?

It’s one reason I took off an “inspirational widget” from this blog. Even I, author of this blog, wasn’t reading it every day. And when I did, it looked good for the moment, then eventually (like…within a mouse click), I’d forget about it.

This quote, though…I need to give this quote props. When I read it on Tuesday night, I was distracted by the sound of water dripping in the kitchen. Thinking I’d left the faucet slightly on, I figured I’d check it out on my next visit to the kitchen. A few minutes later, I heard “splat, splat, splat” and I knew it wasn’t the faucet. We were having an ice storm, and what I found was water dripping from a leak in the roof.

I dug out a bowl and a towel and laid them under the drip. Water dripped slowly with an off-beat cadence for another few hours. Eventually it stopped and the bowl had filled to a few inches. I could have dumped it into the sink, but then I thought, What the heck? and watered one of my plants instead.

It was just a little serendipitous outcome, but one I thought about at length. If my original plan had been to generate enough water from the leaky roof to water my plants, I’d have been ticked off at all the time it took to gather a few inches of water. But my plan was to merely save my kitchen floor from a mini flood. The bonus wasn’t foreseen.

A “diet” and its real results are the same thing - the diet being a bucket and towel and only one hopeful outcome and the results being the water gathered for a plant. When you stick to your rudimentary plan, it will reap greater benefit. That’s what most people who aspire to lose weight miss.

I remember when I weighed 300 pounds and all I wanted was to lose weight IMMEDIATELY! As in RIGHT NOW, the moment I joined Weight Watchers. But it didn’t work that way. Right now, Weight Watchers centers and gyms all across the country are filled with people wanting a torrential wave of weight loss. I wish there was a way to let them all know that they have to chill, to drip, to gather water slowly. It will be worth it in the end.

Four years ago, when I started this journey, if someone had told me I’d still be grappling with weight issues after the big 168-pound loss, I’m not sure I’d have kept it up. But plugging along month after month with the drip, drip, drip of a pound here and a pound there, isn't so bad. I've learned so much and met so many awesome people that I wouldn't give that time up for anything.

So to those of you new to all this, please, stay in the moment. Day after day. Count your calories, Points, fat grams, carbs, whatever, but stay with it. Stay with the drip. Your bucket will fill up eventually (and your ass will diminish). Be patient. Be still.

Inspiration is fleeting. Dedication is key. And remember, roofing contractors don’t usually work in the winter. You’re on your own :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Forgive Me For Getting a Little Testy...

I normally don’t take issue with fellow bloggers over their beliefs or opinions about weight loss, but this post really has me p’ed off.

I’ll leave it up to you to find the culprit, but here’s the post (it’s very short):

“I Hope You Gained Weight Over The Holidays”

That’s what I’m telling my patients.

Frankly I think for many (certainly not all), significant losses over Christmas and New Years carry a worse prognosis than small gains.

Why? Simple.To lose weight over Christmas and New Year for many would require an overly strict approach, a slap-your-wrist, wish you could have seconds, damn than stupid pie, type approach. An approach otherwise known as a ‘diet.’

Diets by definition are temporary. Lifestyles are forever. Life includes Christmas.

Hope you enjoyed yours.

(And if you did lose, don't feel guilty, just ask yourself if you were reasonably indulgent and if not, perhaps loosen your reins just a touch)

What the…? Reasonably indulgent? Life includes Christmas? It also includes Valentine's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Easter, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, birthdays, and every other excuse of a day to eat. I’m sorry, but gaining weight is NOT part of my agenda. I don’t give a sh*t what time of year it is. Choosing not to eat sugary sweets or overload on potatoes and meat doesn’t make me strict or a “dieter.” It means I’m consistent and have a plan.

I lost five pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas because I’d slowly gained weight due to excess carbs and I wasn’t feeling my best. I tweaked my eating a bit, but never did I “slap my wrist” or yearn for seconds. I never felt “deprived” (I really hate that word). For my efforts? I feel fabulous.

Many people feel differently about the holidays and indulging and that’s totally fine! I just think it’s absurd that a doctor would encourage his patients to gain weight over the holidays, and to call those who stuck to their plan and menus “unreasonable” is way off base. It’s the wrong message to send to a public already confused about what the hell they’re supposed to eat and when.

I realize how defensive this sounds, and I don’t write this entry as a way to make excuses for my weight loss or apologize for my position. I’m simply tired of all the mixed messages from the medical community about weight loss. If you have a plan, stick to it. You needn’t feel guilty for it, whether it incorporates extras during the holidays or not. I just don’t want to see anyone condemned for doing what it is the medical community suggests they do in the first place and that’s to lose weight.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Look to the Past to Battle Complacency Today

The new year is when most people look forward and resolve to change something about their future. That’s all well and good, but it’s also the perfect time to reflect on the past, particularly if you’re losing or maintaining weight. It’s the best way I’ve found to keep complacency at bay.

I’ve spent a good part of this new year’s weekend asking myself these questions: What was my original motivation to lose weight? What did I look like along the way? How did I feel at this weight or that weight? What lessons have I learned and do I need to relearn any of them?

Today I was most interested in January 2006. I’d lost about 90 pounds and had emerged from a nearly four-year self-imposed exile during which time I’d stopped writing my column, having my hair cut and colored professionally, and socializing with friends. When I looked at photos from Christmas 2005 and new year 2006, I remembered I felt like someone had lifted a heavy blanket off of me. I could breathe again. No more did my world feel dank and cold.

Second only in importance to losing weight was my decision to write again. For seven years I’d written a bi-weekly column called “Been There, Done That” for our local paper. I even won a few journalism awards for it. But I stopped writing it in 2002 because I was too busy running an antiques business. After a year, I missed my column terribly and wanted to write again, only I knew my editor would insist on a photo. It was standard corporate procedure to include a columnist’s photo with with their byline, and in 2003, there was no way I was putting my face, as it was, back in the paper. I’d gained a significant amount of weight since the last headshot was taken (sometime in 1999, I think) and I worried what people would think. I denied myself one of the most important creative outlets I’d ever know all because I couldn’t bear the thought of people opening up their papers and gasping, “Oh my, she’s gotten fat.”

Seems like messed up thinking now, but I have to remember that that was the mindset of 300-pound me, not 128-pound me. Big difference (so to speak). In 2006, when I’d lost enough weight to feel somewhat comfortable having my photo taken, enough that writing became more important than what someone thought of my weight, I re-launched my column and fell in love with writing all over again.

On the left is the headshot from January 2006. On the right is my headshot from January 2007.
I didn’t lose weight so I could write again. But writing was one of the by-products of my weight loss. It’s one of the many things I like to reflect on and remember so when I’m tempted to eat a little more than I should or skip a workout or two because I don’t “feel like it,” I can make the best decision for myself knowing what I know now based on what I did then. And for that, I thank and love the old me and the wisdom culled from the past.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Take the Milk Out of the Microwave...So To Speak

And you thought the possum analogy was out there…..

I had a strange dream last night in which I was to demonstrate for an audience of Catholic school students (hunh?) how to make a milk-based soup using a microwave. I felt really stressed because I don’t use a microwave in real life for anything other than reheating food or melting butter, and I was horrified when I saw that milk had been poured directly into the microwave. No container. Just milk in the microwave with the door shut.

The recipe I was using called for heating the milk but not boiling it. That meant I would have to test it several times to make sure it was heating adequately. As the students filed into the classroom, I tried desperately to figure out how I was going to check the milk without it spilling out. Just before I woke up, I decided I’d lift the microwave over on its back every time I needed to open the door.

Still in that half awake dreamy state, I thought about other possible solutions to the microwave problem as I began to wake up fully this morning. If I’d been presented with a problem like that in real life (and it wasn’t a joke and I had to make the best of it), I’d have dumped what milk I could into a proper cooking container and proceeded with the demonstration from there rather than worrying about tipping over the microwave each time.

I read this article called The Top 10 Healthiest Diets in America and I thought about how the milk in the microwave is like a diet program. How many times have you chosen a program you think will work for you, only to find yourself bending and twisting to the diet’s needs rather than your own? A “diet” should be a lifestyle change, I know you hear that a million times, but it’s YOUR LIFE that your changing. So shouldn’t the lifestyle you choose work with you rather than against you?

When I started losing weight in 2005, I read Bob Greene’s book “Get With The Program.” While I eventually joined Weight Watchers, Greene’s ideas laid the groundwork for what would become a life-changing journey for me.

I bend the Weight Watchers rules all the time. While the basic foundations of the program are sound, I often go outside the box to find ideas that work best for me. For instance, I love Dr. Dean Ornish’s book “Eat More, Weigh Less” and Pamela Peeke’s “Body for Life for Women” and have implemented several of their philosophies and strategies into my eating, exercise and mindfulness program. Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” has some solid ideas, too, although his recipes are pretty dull and bland.

While I’ve not tried Alyson Mead’s “Write It Off Club,” mostly because I’m not losing weight anymore, I suspect it is something I’d have done if it was offered while I was losing weight (click here to read my review of her book, “Wake Up To Your Weight Loss.” I’d probably have liked using MaryLou’s Weigh, too (click here to read my review).

My point is, as you travel this road of lifestyle change and adjustment, remember that you’re the expert of you. Not the lady who weighs you at Jenny Craig or the words that come off the page in your South Beach Diet book. What feels right to you? What are you willing to change or not change?

Part of what made this last weight loss so successful for me is that I consulted my body and mind every step of the way. I didn’t rigidly follow a set of rules. People have written to me asking me to just tell them what I eat every day and how I exercise every day, thinking if they do exactly what I do, they’ll be successful, too. Sorry, I tell them. It doesn’t work that way. You have to do your own research, follow the program(s) that work best for you. It is the only way to achieve long-term success.

Dump the milk out of the microwave, folks! Make the program work for you, not the other way around.

And if any of you analyze dreams, can you tell me why the heck you think I dreamed about showing Catholic students how to make soup in a microwave?