Monday, December 30, 2013

"I Just Want to Eat Normally!" Do you?

Another blog today on our support site got me thinking about a Blog Post of my own for today with something she said about realizing that she had been, deep down, "Hoping that I could lose my weight and then go back and eat like a normal person."

This is a very real desire that we all have to confront at some point or other in our journey towards optimal health.  As I commented on her post, it sparked so many thoughts in me that I decided to make it a blog instead of commandeering her comment section LOL.

Well, put it this way, we don't HAVE to confront this idea, we can IGNORE what is deep down and simply ACT on that hope after "losing weight", which WILL likely cause us to gain it all back again.

Or, we can deal with it and CHANGE OUR WANTS.

Let me give you a different perspective on it.  Do you REALLY want to "eat normal"?

Firstly, doing what you've always done will get you what you've always got.  Is that the status quo you want to maintain after all your hard work?

Secondly, the idea of "normal" in this country is what has 2/3rd's of Americans being overweight and fully HALF of those overweight Americans are OBESE.  So, "normal" is overweight or obese.  Healthy weight is actually the EXCEPTION.  We are the MINORITY, those of us who are a healthy weight.

Most people who are a healthy weight remain so because their bodies naturally tend towards that.  Some of us are a healthy weight because we were FORMERLY obese or overweight and decided to make a lifestyle shift, to fight for the right to be healthy!

Since only about 5-15% of people who lose a significant amount of weight maintain their losses for two years or more, that means those of us who have done that, who ARE in the healthy weight range, are the minority of the minority (of the minority of the minority....it feels like one of those pictures of a mirror with a picture of a mirror with a picture of a mirror....I digress.....).

So tell me, do we WANT to eat NORMALLY to BE NORMAL, or do we WANT to eat EXCEPTIONALLY to be EXCEPTIONAL?

I choose EXCEPTIONAL.

Do you know who else chooses "Exceptional?"

Olympic quality and elite athletes. 
Henry Cavill a.k.a "Superman" (had to throw that in there, if you have seen any of his interviews about his work-out/eating regimen while training for and shooting the Man of Steel movie, you will see what I mean!)

Exceptional in this context means that you are comfortable with and striving towards your health goals.  You have lived the life of a "normal" American adult, and it did NOT bring you peace and joy.  In fact, quite the opposite, it brought you heartache and emotional conflict and pain such that you made a decision to NOT BE THAT WAY ANYMORE.

Our bodies are our bodies, we can't swap 'em out for bodies that DON'T store extra calories/carbs etc as fat.  Our bodies will always do that, we have not and will not change that propensity.  What we HAVE accomplished by losing the excess adipose tissue (long-term energy storage) is that we have brought our bodies back in to energy balance.  We are no longer hoarders of calories on our person.  We are also living a life, those of us who have done that, which is necessarily more active.  For me, this life I live now is infinately  more satisfying and exciting and downright FUN that the life I was living as a Class IV Super-Obese-yet-"normal"-eating individual. 

And I will eat exceptionally, and I will move exceptionally, to maintain what I have gained, which is optimal health, so that I may be able to continue living exceptionally.

Thanks Rosie for the inspiration!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy 22 Year Anniversary to Hubby and I, and Other Musings....

Today is our anniversary.  My hubby and I have been married for 22 years, and I'd like to THINK we've gained some wisdom about relationships and good living in general.

One thing I truly appreciate is that he and I are in this "health" thing TOGETHER.  We were talking just yesterday about how difficult a prospect it would be to radically change our views on health and lifestyle without the other spouse (eventually, at least) adopting the same or similar views on the importance of bringing health into one's life.

For us it is a non-negotiable.  Our son's transplant docs (kidney) told us that the BEST thing we can do to be good advocates and good caregivers for our son (who is 9 now and has had his transplant for 6 years now) is to be MODELS of HEALTH.  When he told us that, we were already adopting healthy habits and making health an integral part of our lives, and it only confirmed what we already knew, that our family was best served living in HEALTH and not in OBESITY.

You see, a transplanted kidney is a finite thing (as the rest of us is also, but a transplanted kidney even more so), and any EXTRA weight our son carries throughout his life is an added stressor to his kidney.  In other words, him being overweight could shorten the life of his kidney, and consequently, his life.

WOW.  To have it presented to us in no uncertain terms was very eye opening.  I mean, we know in GENERAL that for ALL of us, being overweight and obese can have negative impacts on our internal systems and our longevity, putting us at risk for all sorts of obesity-related diseases and co-morbidities. 

But to have this FACT displayed in such clarity with our son's situation really helped change our views on health from having an "interest" in it to being "committed" to it.

We are COMMITTED.

And our son is reaping the benefit of being a healthy weight, and having 2 parents who are a healthy weight. 

We have organized our lives around what matters most to us.  Our health.  Our son.  Our lives even as a team, my husband and myself.

Twenty-two years.  Wow.

For 20 of those 22 years I was overweight or obese.  Class 3 and Class 4 Morbid and Super Obese for about 16 of those years.  Our new life together is beyond amazing.  Do we still have stressors and our share of "problems"?  Absolutely, but I maintain that EVERYTHING is easier at a healthy weight because my brain is not battling the obesity-driven feelings of failure and obesity-related depression that came from hauling around an extra person on my frame.  From not fitting in to any of the clothing in my closet.

Do you KNOW how many of those black extra-large landscape bags' worth of clothing I have given to Goodwill through the years?  About 25.

Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of clothing, none of which I LIKED, all of which were bought and worn simply in the hopes that they made me look a little bit "less big".  Lots of black and grey.  Lots of free-flowing fabric.  Nothing "cute" or "beautiful" or "stunning" or "flattering".  Just "less bad".  Those were my options.  And I STILL managed to stand in there crying and trying on dress after dress for special occasions, in utter denial at how big I had become.

I've been reading a book called "Ultra-Fat to Ultra-Fit" about a Neuroscientist who conducted an experiment on himself to lose weight and although he used some unconventional methods in his actual eating plan that I would never recommend, his commentary on obesity in his own life and what he observed in others (as a scientist he couldn't help but observe and take note), as well as his thoughts on "dieting" in general are profound.  Here is an excerpt from that book, taken from pages 212-214:

"On a Proper Diet:  Before I say anything else, it's important to clarify a concept that can have a fuzzy interpretation:  what it REALLY means to go on a diet.  The term has become something of a misnomer.  To most people, "going on a diet" conjures visions of a draconian, albeit temporary, state of self deprivation, where cutting back on the daily quota of treats is rewarded by a steady loss of ounces and pounds.  In a stereotypical sense, this is accurate.  But what happens after you've lost the weight?  Certainly controlling what and how much you eat is a lifelong process, rather than a temporary affair with defined start and end points.  Indeed, the conceptualization of dieting as a transient inconvenience leads to significant difficulties in the formation of a proper attitude for long-term weight management.  A more mature understanding of dieting views the process as the beginning of a permanent alteration to one of the most basic components of your lifestyle.  To make this even clearer, if you make changes for a while, you may get results, but only for a while.  To get long-lasting results, you must make accordingly long-term changes.  Viewing a change to your eating habits from a longitudinal perspective can make the decision to diet even more intimidating.  It's important not to make the process overly daunting.  Diets take time to mature; it's unlikely that you'll immediately adopt the eating habits you will practice ten years down the road.  In this light, dieting becomes a series of stepwise alterations, with each change aimed at producing a slightly healthier, leaner person.  The prominent role of a diet in daily life makes changing it one of the most challenging lifestyle alterations a person can make.  Overeating and eating badly are medically recognized as legitimate disorders.  These encompass addiction to and/or dependence on food for a sense of well-being.  Thus, when embarking on a diet, you are essentially launching a similar campaign to that of an alcoholic who decides to put down the bottle for good.  While struggles to break free of alcohol and drug addiction are well documented, the challenges of combating (over) eating habits are generally not given due consideration.  However, one can easily argue that some obstacles associated with dieting equal or exceed those related to battling alcohol and drug abuse.  The major difference between breaking an addiction to a particular substance and embarking on a diet is that it is clinically impossible to quit eating food.  To illustrate this point, let us compare hypothetically a smoker who has decided to quit and an obese person planning to lose weight.  Practically speaking, the smoker needs to reduce and eventually eliminate his cigarette consumption to achieve his goal.  The obese person must continue to eat, but eat less and/or different food in order to become thinner.  He cannot simply abstain from the substances he struggles with, he must learn to deal with them differently.  In practice, it is a simpler matter for the smoker to remove tempting substances from his life than it is for the dieter to avoid the multitude of widely available junk foods.  While other deleterious behaviors can be straightforwardly corrected by quitting, the dieter must not only excise his bad habits but must replace them with good ones.  To do this, a dieter must effect a significant psychological overhaul of his relationship with food.  This fact is increasingly recognized by scientists, if not by the commercial diet community.  Indeed, recent studies have found improved efficacy in weight-loss programs supplemented with behavior modification therapy.  Viewed in this light, dieting becomes inherently more complicated than the comparatively simple act of breaking a particular pattern of behavior, even a deeply ingrained one.  The psychological challenges faced by dieters can be illustrated again by comparing our imaginary smoker and dieter.  The smoker's goal is to stop smoking; the dieter's goal is to lose fifty pounds.  In their first acts toward their goals, the smoker goes "cold turkey," and the dieter has a bowl of steamed vegetables and goes for a walk.  The next morning, both are craving their vices: a pack of Marlboros for the former smoker and a heaping plate of bacon and eggs and pancakes for the latter.  Aside from sheer willpower (an often finite resource), what does each person have in his arsenal to help him battle his cravings?  One of the most important psychological tools for lifestyle changes is the ability to validate our actions by examining the results they produce.  This common tactic for behavioral reinforcement clearly is more effective in the case of substance addiction.  The smoker can now legitimately say, "At this moment, I have accomplished what I set out to do.  I am a non-smoker.  I have only been one for a day now, and it's still unpleasant, but I have achieved my goal."  What can the dieter say to justify his methods?  He is still on his diet, and is no doubt suffering as much as the smoker, but he is still fat.  He cannot say that he has accomplished his goal or even made significant progress towards it.  Thus a dieter faces the added challenge of staying motivated.  As is evident in my account, much of a new dieter's time is spent trying to do just that.  The bottom line here is that a diet has the potential to be one of the hardest things you can ever attempt.  Only from understanding and accepting this can the prospective dieter fully appreciate the situation, acknowledging the scope and difficulty of the challenges he faces, and commit to fixing the problem.  Succeeding must be your top priority, and must take precedence over other confounding life factors.  Though it may sound overly dramatic, when the dieter begins to equivocate, he begins to fail."

OK Wow.  That was a LONG excerpt.  But I didn't want to include just snippets of it.  It really encapsulates that this has to be a lifestyle change, it really encapsulates that this is possibly the biggest and I would argue the most important challenge we obese or overweight people will have to face in our lives.

This is one reason why I include so much about what my life is right NOW.  I want you to see the stark contrast between what WAS and what IS, and that staying on plan JUST ONE DAY matters a great deal.  In fact, it is of primary importance.

I submit to you that if you stay on plan TODAY, you can be EXACTLY where you want to be EVENTUALLY.  Someday, provided you stay on plan TODAY, you will be a healthy weight and will be living the life you have always wanted.  And if you view this proess as a joy instead of a drudgery, if you view each day in a positive light of what you get to create with your health instead of one big deprivation, the likelihood of you achieving EXACTLY what you set out to achieve is high!

It is a mathematical certainty, actually!  And all it takes is staying 100% on plan TODAY.  Then tomorrow? 

Rinse and Repeat!

Monday, December 23, 2013

You Can't Take a Vacation From Your Body

I can't tell you how many times I have ACTED as though I could take a mini-vacation from my body.

What does that look like? 

Well, it usually involves some sort of break from my usual schedule.  Sometimes it involves going someplace on, you guessed it, vacation.

At some point my brain would make the errant conclusion that since I wasn't at my usual place doing my usual thing, I could eat whatever appealed to me at the time because I must be on VACATION, and therefore I could ENJOY myself and usually that included OFF PLAN FOOD and DRINK.  And not only this, but somehow I would delude myself thinking that I wouldn't have to face the very real consequences of this behavior.

Problem is that my BODY did not agree with the whole "suspension of consequences" thing.

My body would continue to process those extra calories, sugar, fat, and alcohol as it always has done with extra calories, sugar, fat, and alcohol.  Namely, store it as fat.  Get bigger.  Jeans would get tighter.  Face would get puffier.  And all that could be accomplished in LESS than a week of this attitude!

LESS than a week.  ONE day of this kind of eating sets my body into that very predictable cycle of getting bigger.

Because I can't take a vacation from ME.  I take ME everywhere I go.  I take my BODY everywhere I go.  And my BODY has set limitations, and rules that I DO need to adhere to if I want to live a joyful and healthy life with no regrets.

I can't swap bodies.  I can't leave it at home, either. 

So the only alternative is to CONTINUE to make the HEALTHY CHOICES that I make every day, no matter what my context.  Whether I am at home, in another country, on Christmas Break, at a friend's house, on an airplane flying all day, in a car driving all day, at a Spa or Resort, on the Ski Hills, WHEREVER I AM, and WHEREVER MY BODY IS, I need to continue to make healthy choices. 

I need to fuel my body properly with the right kind of nutrition and hydration, all day every day, if I want to have peace and joy on my journey.

This week has been particularly hard because one of my obstacles I have had to overcome in my life has been sentimental eating.  Christmas is the biggest challenge because my Mom, who is no longer with us, used to go all out for Christmas Eve.  I'm feeling the pull, feeling the tug, having to reconcile the uncomfortable feelings and anxiety that often come when I'm beginning to focus on FOOD and not HEALTH. 

So I'm pulling myself back, and getting in to Dr. A's Habits of Health book and workbook today.  It is an exercise I do when I begin to feel I'm being tugged toward unhealthy choices.

What will YOU do this Holiday Season?  What HAVE you done?  Even if you have been off plan this week, you can start TODAY to make healthy choices again.  Are your jeans a little more snug this week than they were LAST week?  Forgive yourself, and make your next meal a Medifast Meal.

You can't leave your body behind this Holiday Season, so don't leave your Health Goals behind either!




Please contact me at stacymichellephillips@gmail.com if you would like to get started on YOUR path to optimal health!

Rock on!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

You WILL act in accordance with how you EXPECT yourself to act

"I just know I'm going to cave....I just know it's going to be SO HARD for me this weekend at the office party....I just have a feeling I'm going to eat off plan...I'm just afraid because of all the yummy things there....I just don't think I can stick to my eating plan ALL WEEKEND....It's simple during the week, but come the weekend it is SO HARD!"

Have you every uttered these words, and then SUCCEEDED through that challenge?

I haven't.  I know through my experience with achieving and maintaining optimal health that I will act EXACTLY as I EXPECT myself to act.

If I EXPECT myself to "cave", or if I EXPECT that I will "night-eat" because "well, I ALWAYS night-eat, I am a night-eater" then guess what?  I WILL ALWAYS night eat and I WILL ALWAYS be a night-eater.

We will step up or down to our expectations. 

When I began this journey the second time with TSFL I EXPECTED to achieve my healthy weight range.  I EXPECTED to keep it off.  I KNEW that I was going to intentionally develop the mindset I NEEDED in order to do exactly that.

As Epictetus says "First, say it is what you would be.  Then do what you have to do."

If you have ZERO expectations of yourself to ACTUALLY stay on plan over the weekends, you never will. 

If you already think you will fail at this because, well you have failed at every other diet you have tried, well then my friend you are setting yourself up to fulfill that prophecy.

Manage your expectations.  Don't let them just happen.  Change your expectations if they aren't serving you well.

There is so much more than "just losing a little weight" hanging in the balance here.

If you could see the difference in my life between 4 years ago and now, you would be amazed.  And anyone can achieve optimal health.  It just takes utilizing this tool, and following this plan.  And we all start somewhere.

When I started I was 272 pounds, Class IV Super-Obese and walking with a cane because my knees hurt so much.  I was as wide in circumference as I was tall, 63 inches at my widest part around my hips.  I got stuck in the turnstiles at Disneyworld and they had to let me through the stroller-gate with NO stroller.  I was tired all the time.  I hurt everywhere.  My chronic fatigue syndrome was flaring up every day.  My plantar fasciitis prevented me from doing much but sitting on the couch.  Not much fun for my then-5 year old son.

And then something happened.  I decided I was going to "do this one more time but this time keep it off."

It was my expectation.  Of COURSE I was going to lose the weight, of COURSE I was going to keep it off.  I expected myself to this time, because I told myself that I was not even going to START again if there was an INKLING of a chance I would gain it all back.  AGAIN.

It was too heartbreaking and devastating doing that the first time!  I lost 140 pounds only to gain 144 back in the same time it took me to lose it!  And I remember saying after hitting my goal the first time "I'll probably gain it all back now, because it seems that is what I do, if I'm not losing I'm gaining!" 

Yes.  I said that OUT LOUD to a friend back in 2007 after losing the 140 pounds the first time.  And yes.  I did gain it ALL BACK.

This time I went into the process EXPECTING NOT TO GAIN IT BACK.

And I have been maintaining 130 pounds lost and even lost a few more to get UNDER my goal of 128 over the last few months. 146 pounds lost en toto.  Never to gain it back again.

My life NOW looks and feels something like this:

I have a BMI of 22.5 and am working toward a BMI of 21 through transiton/maintenance and exercise (I am finished with Phase 1 of the program, the weight loss phase of the 5&1).  I bounce out of bed in the mornings, greeting the day with a smile.  I begin my day with a healthy fueling, usually a Medifast Meal, and a cup of coffee.  I can wear ANYTHING in my closet, and my sizes range from 2-4 in pants and skirts and dresses, and XS - S tops.  (I used to be a size 26 Women's Stretch Jeans and XXXL tops).  If it's a "running day" I'll go for a run.  If it's a "rest" day I'll rest.  I go to work (my kitchen table) with a smile, as my family gets their day going.  The words that come to mind are ENERGY.  VIBRANCY.  JOY.  Far cry from HOPELESSNESS.  DESPAIR.  BLACK HOLE that I was living in before I DECIDED to make this permanent change.

Some people may say "never say never" and to that I say it is hogwash.  I can tell you I will never be a serial killer.  I can tell you I will never join the circus.  There are some things you CAN SAY NEVER too....and SHOULD.  No offense to circus workers.  But I will NEVER gain my weight back.  There is no question mark in my head.  I am as certain of that fact as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow.

And that is my expectation.

What do YOU expect of yourself?  Whatever it is, you WILL achieve it.  Positive OR Negative.  It will happen. 

Rinse and Repeat.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's Not About Being "Good" or "Bad" on My "Diet"

We hear it all the time, don't we?  We tell it to ourselves.  We see others telling it to themselves.  Does this sound familiar?

"I was SO GOOD on my DIET yesterday!  I didn't CHEAT one BIT!"

or

"I was SO BAD on my Diet yesterday!  I CHEATED with a few extra almonds."

The first one implies success and "good".  The second one implies failure and "bad".

What if there was another way to look at this, a way which did not tie a moral absolute to your food choices?

Because really?  Eating ON plan does NOT make you a GOOD person, no more than eating OFF plan makes you a BAD person.

I think if we could absolutely identify this and make a paradigm shift in our thinking, it would mean WORLDS of progress to our goal of attaining and maintaining optimal health!

Let me share what I have learned through the years, most of it from Dr. A, and validated in my own life through my personal experience.

For me, part of my hang-up, part of my journey (the part that saw me lose 140 pounds over 14 months and then gain it back over the next 12 months), was staying in a "diet mentality". 

This mentality was highlighted by the goal of "to lose weight", and used self-shame to keep me "on track".  Eating something deemed "off plan" was BAAAAAD and would bring feelings of frustration and shame, an overriding sense of failure to my day.  A "good" day was staying ON PLAN 100% and garning a sense of "I'm a SUCCESS!" at the end of those days.  The goal? 

"To Lose Weight".

The second time I did the plan, I actually read Dr. A's Book and began to implement the Habits of Health listed therein.  And I had a watershed moment.

My watershed moment was realizing that my choices to eat "on plan" or "off plan" had nothing to do with success, failure, being good or being bad.  It was so freeing!  I almost didn't know what to do with that information!

I realized that if I stretched out a timeline and put "Optimal Health (or, in my own words 'attaining and maintaining a healthy weight') on one end of the timeline, punctuated by Habits of Health, and I put "Where you came from" on the other end of the timeline, punctuated by Habits of Disease, that I could look at each choice in light of where it would take me on that timeline, and NOT as a moral decision of good or bad.

Ergo, eating ON PLAN was a choice I could make to MOVE TOWARDS OPTIMAL HEALTH, and eating OFF PLAN was a choice I could make to MOVE TOWARDS WHERE I CAME FROM.

Since I never want to go back to where I came from, I consistently make choices that will move me towards optimal health.  Simple as that.

And the choices I make that don't take me closer to that goal?  The choices that I make which don't support my primary goal of optimal health are few and far between now because I examine every eating or drinking decision in light of where it will take me on that time line.

You know what else I found?  I am a perpetual teen-ager at heart.  Sometimes I just LIKE being BAAAAD!  A little bit rebellious, and that was evidenced in the past by "acting out" with my food choices.  "Because if eating a snickers is wrong, baby I don't WANT to be right".  Seems as though with all the structure and responsibilities of being an adult, a wife to an amazing man, and a mother to an amazing 8 year old boy with medical special needs, well that takes structure, organization, discipline, and responsibility and sometimes I just wanted to be a little bit irresponsible and, well BAD! 

My brain would be a bonanza for someone with a psychology degree but I literally diffused the "acting out with food" by taking away all the moral associations with those choices.  Literally.  It was almost an overnight decision.  And I felt the difference immediately.

How did I do it?  How did I just all of a sudden diffuse the moral associations? 

Intentionally.  I DECIDED that if I chose to eat off plan, that I would NOT view myself as a BAD person.  That is was NOT a moral decision, and I just told myself BEFORE eating the off-plan item "Eating this makes me neither BAD nor a failure.  Eating this is a choice I make, which will either take me towards my primary goal of optimal health or farther from it.  Which is it, Sista?"

And you know what?  Taking that brief moment to STOP and CHALLENGE my behavior in a non-moral way, in a non-failure way, put it into perspective for me.  I would REALIZE that what was about to eat would NOT in fact take me closer to my goals (the goals that I said I wanted, BTW, the goals that I chose, not any goal that was foisted upon me....), and 9 times out of 10 I would put the item down and continue my day ON PLAN.

When my goal became "to attain and maintain a healthy weight" is when I feel I made great strides at breaking free from the diet mentality (which is an oscillating pattern of lose-gain-repent-repeat) and making this a lifestyle change.  And if you rolled your eyes at "lifestyle change" like I used to do, then I recommend you get a copy of Dr. A's Habits of Health and begin to thoughtfully read it (with a journal and pen nearby) because I had NO idea what a "lifestyle change" was until I saw it laid out so beautifully and understandably as in that book.

I thought "yeah, I've made a lifestyle change, dieting IS my lifestyle LOL" and I'll tell you right now, that previous diet mentality was all about deprivation and bondage to some system. 

A lifestyle change, on the other hand, is all about HOPE, FREEDOM to live the life I WANT to live, and choosing Habits of Health because it is a JOY to do so. 

A diet mentality is all about what I CAN'T have. 

A lifestyle change is all about what I am choosing to create with this process.  All the good things I am bringing in to my life as a result of my decision to get healthy.

And that's a wrap!

Friday, December 13, 2013

As You Are Now...So Shall You Be

How you manage yourself today, how you stay on plan or don't stay on plan, this is how you will BE in 3-6 months.

So many times prior to FINALLY changing my mind about my health I would say "well, just this little thing, just this once, I'll do better tomorrow."

There is NO tomorrow.  There IS only today.  And how you manage yourself, TODAY, whether it is in your spending decisions or your eating decisions, is THE NUMBER ONE determiner of where you will be next year at this time.

Are you still making excuses in the break room when the treats are brought in?  Then next year you will likely be as big or BIGGER than you are TODAY.  NO MATTER WHAT YOUR INTENTIONS ARE.

Intentions DON'T count.  Actions do.

"But I didn't MEAN to stay fat all year...."

Yes, but how did you ACT all year? 

"But I didn't MEAN to be in so much consumer debt from last year to this year....."

Yes, but how did you SPEND all year?

For me, spending and weight management have been the most challenging issues of personal growth I have had to tackle in my adult life.  For me, the issues surrounding BOTH are similar, they stemmed from a lack of impulse control.  Wanting what was in front of me REGARDLESS of how it would effect my body or my pocketbook.

Why do we do that? 

Many times those of us who struggle with spending and/or weight have a very SHORT TERM view of things.  We really only analyze things according to how they will make us feel RIGHT NOW.  TODAY.  We don't give too much thought to consequences.  For me, I kinda felt like a perpetual teenager.  Live NOW!  Do what I WANT!

Only I found that my WANTS didn't go beyond NOW.  And I ended up 272 pounds and in massive credit card debt, and not much to show for it.  Stuff.  Just stuff.  Stuff on my outsides (from the spending) and stuff on my insides (fat). 

Both were symptoms of the idea of EXCESS.  Of ACCUMULATING more than I NEEDED.  Another word for it would be HOARDING. 

I hoarded things, and I hoarded calories.  That is a conclusion I came to as I began to lose the weight, and simultaneously began giving things to Goodwill on a MASSIVE scale to de-clutter my outward environment.

I began to see the big WEIGHT that I had willingly placed on my outsides and my insides with this mentality, and I began to see the freedom that could be had with shedding both.

There is a book I love to read every once in awhile called "The Simpler Life" by Deborah DeFord.  Here is a paragraph/exerpt I wanted to share:

"Practice the art of composting.  Inevitably as we live more intentionally, we discover habits and attitudes that don't belong in a life simply lived.  We cling to them because they're familiar and therefore comfortable or because we are lazy and don't want to exert the energy required to change them.  Or, conversely, we grab them by the neck and enact murder, full of indignation and self-criticism.  Personally, I prefer to consider old, outdated thoughts and actions along an organic model.  They've had their day, for better or worse, and now they're like a garden's stubble.  We can plow them under and allow them to decompose without rancor.  In that way they come to enrich the living material of our present and future."

I love this.  I need this.  I moved away from those habits of disease, both the inward AND the outward manifestations of those habits of disease clearly present on my person and my surroundings, and I plowed them under.  They had their day.  They served the purpose of experience.  Who I USED to be is now fueling, in a way, who I am with clear intention.

I don't despise the old me, I don't hate her or wish she had never existed, she was ME!  I was HER!  I have simply changed, and I have shed those habits that did not serve me anymore, didn't serve my happiness, my contentment, or my inner peace.  And boy has it made all the difference.

Remember that what you do TODAY will determine the direction you head, in BOTH the areas of health AND finances. 

As you are NOW, so shall you BE.  If you practice habits of health, and healthy spending TODAY, then your outside situation (both your body and your financial situation) will reflect that over time.

Conversely, if you practice habits of disease and overspend today also, over time your body and your financial situation will reflect that inner reality.

Which do you prefer?  Start TODAY.  =)

Rinse and Repeat!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Confessions of a Former Food Addict

Can I just tell you how ecstatic I am to report this?

I am PROOF that a food addict can, with adopting habits of health incrementally, over time, CHANGE.

It was a long road.  I dare not say I have "arrived" because I have my WHOLE life ahead of me to continue pursuing health, and there is no expiration date or "end" to that, well, until there is.  =)

In years past, the baking of the annual Christmas goodies was always a tenuous activity, fraught with peril.  I would feel anxious leading up to the day of baking, and then anxious all day long, trying so hard to keep my fingers out of the dough and all that sugary chocolaty marshmallowey (I thought at the time) goodness.

Since last year, I have been intensely working on MY own journey, discovering MY "why", becoming the person I have always wanted to be.

I am still becoming her.  But I like her a LOT!  And she honestly couldn't care one whit about bites licks or tastes of ANYTHING that she baked today.  It doesn't even appeal to me.  I am not saying this just to SAY it, it is ABSOLUTELY 100% true that THIS FOOD IS NOT MY FOOD ANYMORE.

But sugar has lost it's hold on me.  Gone.  I pray never to return. 

You see, every day I make the choice to pursue health.  And eating Chocolate Fudge or Fleur De Sel Caramel Pumpkin Fudge, or Christmas Wreath Cookies don't appeal to me any more.  I love giving it away, and I don't feel bad giving it to other people because NOT EVERYONE has a food addiction like I did.  Many fit and healthy people are ambivalent and pretty responsible when confronted with a plate of fudge.  They can have a piece or no.

Do you notice that?  Fit and healthy people, when they go to parties with Christmas Cookies and Fudge and all sorts of fattening treats don't go GAGA over the tables.  Their eyes don't get super-wide, and they could have some or not, it depends on how they feel, and how they WANT to feel later on.

Fit and healthy people act in this manner.

Do you notice how overweight and obese people act when they see the same table?  Eyes wide, mouth watering, instant thoughts of deprivation if they are on a latest "diet", putting on their martyr face and then saying "well perhaps just one piece, I can always start again tomorrow, after all it is Christmas".

I used to be that person.  I am not her anymore.  I don't look down on the way I used to be, I rejoice that I am not like that anymore.  But it didn't happen by accident.   How did it happen?

#1 - Over time. 

You MUST be patient with the process.  It didn't come on overnight, nor were our habits of disease that got us here formed overnight.

#2 - With intentionality.

The first time I did the plan (the time in 06/07 when I lost 140 pounds on "Medifast" and gained it all back in 08) I just "did" the "plan".  I was not intentional about developing habits of health (as per Dr. A) and I never WILLFULLY took my focus off food.  I remained food-centric, which is the LAST thing a food addict needs to be.  The second time in 2010?  WAY different.  I was INTENTIONAL about my focus.

#3 - With purpose and direction

Every day I woke up and said "Am I going to move CLOSER to my health goals today, or farther FROM them".  Notice I didn't wake up and say "Am I going to deprive myself of all the yummy food today and stay on my eating plan, or aren't I?"  Again, HEALTH oriented NOT FOOD oriented.

#4 - With grace

I forgave myself when I would slip and do something I had not planned or intended.  I made my NEXT meal a Medifast one and did NOT look back or beat myself up.

#5 - With compassion

I understand the limitations of my body, and I attempted to respect and honor those in my journey.  Rare were the times I would throw myself under the bus by eating BLATANTLY off plan sugared up food or drink. 

I hope this helps ANYONE this holiday season.  Act like a fit and healthy person and eventually you will become one.  Act like a food addict who is on a diet, and you will remain one.

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tiny, Like YOU!

Well that was a first.  I know for a fact I have never once been called "Tiny!"

Until now that is! 

4 years ago where I am now was only a dream, but it was a dream that was ATTAINABLE because I set a STRATEGY in motion that INCLUDED "Today".

Yes, 4 years ago was my first real "Today" with Take Shape For Life.  It was August 1st, 2010.  I was 272 pounds, walked with a cane, had plantar fasciitis and became winded when walking from my kitchen table to the car in the driveway.  I was OVER 50% Body Fat (I have a hand-held body-fat analyzer) and was OVER 47 on the BMI chart which clinically classified me as "Class IV Super-Obese" which is WORSE than "Class III Morbidly-Obese".  Whoever came up with those classifications I'd like to have a discussion with them by the way.  I don't think MORBID should be considered LESS serious than SUPER.  Just sayin'.  I digress.

Today I re-discovered an old book I bought in August of 2010, (picture attached) which has a record of my daily weights near the end of August of that year.  The book is has the Eiffel Tower on the front and says "Paris" on it, because it was THAT MONTH when the idea of someday participating in the Paris Marathon entered my mind.  I began to make that dream a reality one day at a time.

Fast-forward 4 years.  I've lost 144 pounds, I've kept a majority of that off for over 2 years, I am a healthy BMI and am living the life I ENVISIONED for myself 4 years ago.  This didn't happen by accident.

I didn't just think "I have to lose some weight NOW, I feel like a big fatty fat tub!"  NO.  I didn't think that.  I wasn't hard on myself, I was KIND to myself.  I didn't DEVALUE myself, I VALUED myself.  I valued myself enough to realize that I was a WORTH THE EFFORT it was going to take to CREATE THE LIFE that I wanted.

Two things about that. 

Firstly, I VALUED MYSELF.  I forgave myself and my body and I made ME my ally instead of my nemesis. 

Secondly, I began to envision WHAT I COULD CREATE with the process of getting healthy. 

This journal proves that.  It is a small testimony to the power of a dream.

What is YOUR dream of being healthy?  And do YOU value yourself?

If we hate ourselves, we won't want to do kind things for ourselves or take care of ourselves. 

I'll tell you what, you are stuck with YOU!  So get to know you, get to LIKE you, because you will still be YOU at "goal".  So which YOU do you want to be?  Choose and begin acting like it.

Back in August 2010 I began to ACT like a fit and healthy person.  I made the same CHOICES that a fit and healthy person would consistenly make, on a DAILY basis.  Eventually my outsides caught up with my insides.

What are YOUR insides like?  Is your OUTSIDE a reflection of who you ARE inside? 

If I ALLOWED myself to continue that kind of self-talk, that kind of self-talk that told me I was a big fatty fat tub, THAT would be ALWAYS be how I would ACT because it is ALL I would EXPECT of myself.  And my outsides would ALWAYS reflect those thoughts, and I would have stayed 272 pounds class IV Super Obese.

Change inside.  Change your self-talk.  Change your mind.  Change your strategy.  Find a dream.  Love yourself.

Rinse and repeat.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

No Substitute for Doing the Work

Wishing things were different, HOPING things will be different, LONGING for things to be different....

Nothing changes if nothing changes.  All the hope and wishing and longing in the WORLD will not MAKE IT SO.

What will?  Doing the work.  Day in.  Day out.  When you feel like it, and ESPECIALLY when you DON'T feel like it.  When you have an abundance of resolve, AND when you have NONE.

Especially when you have none.

It is what you do in THESE times which define whether or not you will be successful at attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.

Do the work.  Get the results.

Don't do the work?  Then don't be disappointed with the results you DIDN'T get with the work you DIDN'T do.

I know it doesn't sound especially motivational.  I know it doesn't give you chills to read this.  Maybe it actually puts a damper on your day.

Sorry.  Today I'm all about truth.  Today I will tell you EXACTLY how I achieved success in losing 144 pounds and EXACTLY how I know I will be keeping it off.

Because I'm not afraid of a little hard work.

Are you?  If you are asking "what does she mean by 'hard work', I thought this plan was supposed to be simple!"

It is simple.  It is NOT easy.  The "hard work" I'm talking about is making it your BUSINESS to remain ON PLAN TODAY.  On THE plan, not YOUR plan. 

Now, if you have been in the habit of doing that anyway, then it DOES sound easy AND simple!  If you have NOT been in the habit of doing things you are probably thinking "there has to be another way, because I can't seem to do that!  I can't seem to even spend one full day on THE plan!"

Well, get to a place where you ARE spending one full day on THE plan.  I got no tricks for you there.  THAT is the hard work.  Staying on plan TODAY.

Or, you if you AREN'T in the habit of staying on plan for a whole day, you will likely go a few months attempting this, find out you have turned it into a quasi-maintenance plan, and ditch it altogether, only to go looking for something you don't have to quite work so hard at.

I've got some news for you, THIS PLAN is the SIMPLEST thing out there, so if you can't do THIS PLAN I can't think of a solution for you.  At all.  Your best bet is to wake up tomorrow morning and commit to staying on THE PLAN.  Expect it of yourself, and you might just surprise yourself at what you actually CAN accomplish!

So, there are your choices if you'd like to be successful at attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.

Ya gotta buckle down and DO THE WORK.

And this isn't JUST a lesson for weight loss and getting healthy.  It really applies to ALL goals.  Today I had 8 miles on my marathon training schedule.  Eight daunting miles.  I cringed just thinking about it as I was getting my shoes on.  Could I REALLY run 8 miles today?  Me?  Was there another solution?  Could I build my endurance for the long 26.2 mile run in April just by hoping or wishing or longing for it?  I realized as I DID get my shoes on and got OUT the door, that A) I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for, as it turns out I ran 10.3 miles today when I checked my GPS, and B) no, there is no substitute for doing the work and logging the miles.  The ONLY reason I was able to run over 10 miles TODAY is because LAST Sunday I ran 7 miles, then I ran 3 miles two days later, 5 miles two days later, then 3 miles the next day, took a day off and then TODAY rolled around.  I have been DOING the WORK.  And guess what, I am TRUSTING the training program that I committed to.  I am layering miles upon miles and my body is keeping up!

It is the same with the plan.  There is JOY in the journey, and part of the lesson IS the journey.  Do the work.

Rinse and Repeat!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Creating a Micro-Environment of Health

So Happy Day After Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope your day yesterday (and every day but especially yesterday!) was filled with laughter, love, hope, and good memories being made!

It was at my house.

I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time EVER at my house.  My sis usually has it at her house, since she is the one who never left Arizona LOL.  I was the transplant traipsing around the world and other states, so who ever knew where WE were going to be any given Thanksgiving!

England (Lancashire).  Austria (Schladming).  Canada (Winnipeg).  Jerome (near Sedona, AZ).  Colorado (Lyons, near Boulder).

Yes I was the wanderlust always ready for an adventure.  My sis was the set-down-your-roots and with her 4 kids it just seemed like the place to have Thanksgiving every year, and Christmas Eve too!

The gathering place.  But her house is in the "middle" of being painted on the outside, so it is all taped and oversprayed with primer and the like, so we decided to have it at MY house on the next street over. 

SUCCESS!

Yesterday we had all manner of EVERYTHING to eat.  Sprouts did it up for us very well, everything was delicious.  We had far more pies than necessary, and it really smelled like Thanksgiving when we warmed everything up (the pre-cooked Turkey was AMAZING!).

So this morning I was thinking about what it MEANS to create a micro-environment of health in our lives.  I came up with a few ideas, some borrowed from Dr. A and some how I've implemented things in my own  home/life/friendships.

Creating a Micro-Environment of Health in the HOME ENVIRONMENT:

While we are focusing on health, it is important to identify in us what "triggers" we may have, and then change our routines and our environment to one that will PROMOTE our health goals, not HINDER them.  I've done that in my own house and with my immediate family, I've created a "safe zone" so to speak, where those items that cause me the biggest temptations historically just aren't around.  I don't have them readily available, because I know that even if I am doing SUPER WELL on my plan and with my health goals, there is about 8% of my day (it's a hypothetical, I've never actually measured that.....LOL), where my track record historically has shown that I am LESS focused on what I want EVENTUALLY (health goals) and MORE focused on what I think I want NOW (yummy food).

So I keep my trigger-items OUT of my house because I have created a "micro-environment of health" in my house.  I only want those things which will further my health goals to be readily available, I want my house to be a place of peace for me and not a battleground. 

What are those items for YOU?  For me, they are:  An OPEN bottle of red wine, Blue Cheese, Brie or Stilton, and Black Licorice (soft kind, what they call "aussie style).

No matter how I THINK I am doing, if I put these things in my house they WILL hinder my plan, because I allow them to.

So they don't reside in my house.  Yes, I pour out half-empty bottles of wine every once in awhile, after we've entertained and I want to set myself up for an on-plan day the next day.

Creating a Micro-Environment of Health in our
DAILY ROUTINES:

What else do I do?  Well, if I am going running the next day I'll spend about 10 minutes the night before, just around bedtime (I'm sure that time of the day is PART of my 8%!), gathering my running gear, my ear buds, my running shoes, etc, and placing them on a chair in the kitchen near the coffee.  Then I'll grind the coffee and set up the coffeemaker for the morning.  Why do I do these things?  Not just to be "ready to go" in the morning, but to keep my mind and my actions right before bed focused on health.  If I didn't DO this routine, I may instead direct myself to the pantry to grab a handful of nuts or dried cherries. 

But I don't.  I have a healthy ROUTINE.  I have created a micro-environment of health, and have established healthy ROUTINES which a repeat every day.  This promotes an attitude of moving towards health in my life, instead of an attitude of food-centricity.

SO!  It doesn't matter to me what I may or may not have eaten yesterday, for Thanksgiving.  What DOES matter is what am I doing TODAY.  How am I acting in accordance with my long-term health goals TODAY?  With this very next DECISION?

Well, I sent all the left-overs of EVERYTHING home with my sister to deal with.  TODAY we are back to our regular routine, and my regular routine looks something like this:

Wake up, have my "perfect" cup of coffee with 2 TBSP half and half and 1 packet of splenda in it, and a Medifast Meal.  This morning it was a Choc Chip Cookie Dough Chewy Bar.  Some days it is Oatmeal or Blueberry Muffin.  Occasionally a Brownie.  Always with my perfect cup of coffee.  Then I fill up my 44 oz water cup with water and a Mixed Berry Flavor Infuser, I blog, I read the blogs, and I drink my water.  By about 8 am I have had my 1st Medifast Meal, my coffee, and am a good way through my water.  The day has started out right, in a way that supports my health goals, because it is my ROUTINE to do so.  I don't wake up in the morning and think "do I want to stay on plan today?"

OF COURSE I do.  It is a given.  It is not a daily choice anymore, it is now a routine.  An established HABIT of making my first meal a Medifast meal, and drinking plenty of water.  This sets up my next meal and has me thinking clearly with plenty of energy to continue my healthy routines.
Creating a Micro-Environment of Health in our CHOICE OF FRIENDS AND ACTIVITIES:

We all get to choose who we spend time with (outside our family of course!), and we also choose what we spend our time DOING.  Who are  your immediate circle of friends, and what do you do when you are with them?  Do you have a group of friends who support you in your journey?  Or are all of your friends constantly pressuring you to drop this "diet thing" and come have fun with them at the movies with popcorn or getting froyo after eating out?  If THIS is your group of friends, then perhaps YOU can be the healthy one with healthy goals and influence THEM.  But if not, then you may find THEY are influencing YOU.  I'm not saying drop them and never do anything with them, indeed I am not saying that.  What I am saying though is that we become LIKE those we hang out with the most.  We are sort of an average of the 5 people who hang around with most.  So improve your odds and find at least ONE person who IS health minded, who DOES have the same health goals as you do, whatever phase they are on in that journey doesn't matter but the MINDSET does, and spend some good time with THEM ALSO.  They will bring up your average!  =)  Do you like to hike?  Look online for some hiking groups that get together on the weekends to go hiking.  And join them.  Do you like to ride your bike?  Lots of cycling groups out there, and if there ISN'T a group, START one!  Are you a walker or a runner?  Look online and you will find there is a healthy vibrant active community out there and you CAN be a part of it.  Spend a part of every week with these like-minded people and you will begin to see it rubbing off, you will begin to see that it is easier for YOU to stay true to YOUR health goals because you are spending time with other people FOR WHOM it is NORMAL to be HEALTHY, and not an exception.

Dr. A talks about the importance of surrounding yourself with Healthy Community in his book Dr. A's Habits of Health, and I have found this to be 100% true in my own life.
So this is a peek inside the routine of someone who is still on her journey.  I hope you find it helpful!
Rinse and Repeat!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

GOALLLLL!!!!!!

*Disclaimer, I've been maintaining a little bit higher than where I wanted to be for the last several years, and recently made the decision to get "that last 20" off and live in ultra-health.  So I jumped back on the weight-loss portion of our system, and today I write that I have arrived at my goal weight.**

I love these blogs that announce "Goal!"

Today I write one of my own.

TODAY I am 128.  Sunday I begin transition for the LAST time.

Because losing the weight is only the 1st STEP in the process of attaining and maintaining optimal (and even ultra) health. 

Back when I began this process, I began at 272 walking with a cane with a BMI of over 47 and my body fat percentage was OVER 50%.  It was July of 2010.  I knew it was a turning point in my life, and I knew that if nothing truly changed, then nothing would truly change.

So I submitted myself to a plan called Take Shape For Life.  Take Shape For Life was not just a "diet" (I call it "eating plan"), it was:

* an EATING plan (utilizing the Medifast 5&1 PCMR program which, when followed, gives a 2-5 lbs/week weight loss for the first 2 weeks, and a 1-2 lb/wk weight loss every week thereafter, results vary)

* Personal one-on-one accountability with a FREE TSFL Health Coach.  Yes, I have a wonderful Health Coach.  Yes, I've called her just about every WEEK for a 5-10 minute conversation for YEARS now, because she will ALWAYS be my health coach no matter whether I utilize the products in maintenance or not!

* Behavior Modification as directed in Dr. A's Habits of Health System, and the SYSTEM is the book, the companion guide workbook, and the DVD.

* The Additional Bionetwork of support that TSFL offers it clients, which includes this site as well as weekly support calls on a conference format.  These three calls are:  Doctors Call, Nurses Call, and Habits of Health Call.  I was able to log on to these anytime I wanted even if I missed the live call during the week by going to supportcallsonline.com and choosing from the archived calls.  And I DID.

So when people ask me "How did you DO that?" (Lose 144 pounds), and "How do you plan on continuing to KEEP IT OFF?" I tell them those 4 things. 

FOR ME, "just" doing the "eating part" was NOT sufficient for me to change my lifestyle.  For me, "just" doing the "eating part" was like holding my breath, white-knuckling it, viewing it as a big deprivation and having a "when will this be OVER so I can go back to being NORMAL" mindset.  I'm not just speaking hypothetically that I THINK it wouldn't be enough for me, I KNOW it wasn't enough for me because in 06/07 I DID just do the "eating part" and yes it did "work", I lost 140 pounds (from 268 to 128) and when Nutrition Support wisely advised me that I could NOT transition because I had JUST found out I was pregnant, I happily obliged that advice.  Twelve weeks later I had a miscarraige (not my first, I was prone to them, it was actually my 5th), and because I had NOT LEARNED the "Habits of Health", because I had NOT been incrementally adding them to my life and my routine, my mind snapped right back to pre-Medifast days and I "ate normally" for the next year, managing to GAIN BACK everything I had lost, plus 4 more pesky pounds to boot.

I was even LARGER than I had been.  I felt HOPELESS and I felt HELPLESS.

Until two things happened.

#1  I went to  Beth Moore Conference, and I still have my notes from it, where she was talking about discovering, in as best as we can, what our full God-given potential is ON THIS EARTH and LIVING IT.  I knew that my keeping my "fat suit" was actually keeping ME from living the life God wanted me to live HERE.  So many of us Christians (including me) forget that WE HAVE A PURPOSE here, this life isn't merely just a waiting room for Heaven.  Our purpose is to REFLECT HIS GLORY, since we ARE His creation.  I knew that I was NOT doing that, I'll tell you I didn't feel so gosh-darn glorious hobbling around on my cane singing the "poor me I gained back all my weight I'm such a failure" tune in my head.

#2  I went on a Make-a-Wish trip with my son who received a Kidney Transplant, and we went to Disneyworld on a co-sponsored trip with Kurt Warner's "First Things First" Foundation.  I didn't know who Kurt Warner even WAS at the time, and when they said "do you want to go with Kurt Warner's family?"  I said "Sure!  Who is he?"  Turns out he is only one of the BEST Quarterbacks in the NFL who EVER LIVED!  He was not retired yet, and was still with the Cardinals, but he and his ENTIRE FAMILY (wife and 7 children) would be coming with us!  So we went.  During that trip I was able to talk with his wife, Brenda Warner, a few times and get to know her.  She is a former Marine sharp-shooter, and let me tell you she is an AWESOME and classy lady who has been dealt her hard times in life but has used them to truly become the person she 'might have' been!  In fact, that was her motto: "It is never too late to become the person we 'might have' been!", and I adopted it as my own, I think she recycled it from a famous philosopher.  During that trip we talked about nutrition, and potential, and living our best lives to the glory of God, etc, and although I was at my heaviest and got stuck in the turnstiles getting into the park (they had to let me through the stroller gate with no stroller!), she treated me as if I WERE THAT PERSON already.  She respected and valued me as a precious individual, and I can tell you that is more than I had been allowing myself, and it wasn't how I WAS treating myself!  I had been viewing myself with disgust and an overriding sense of failure.  And that is a very dark place to be.

Perhaps it was HER belief in ME that I borrowed to place my first order and get going again.  Her attitude when I spoke to her of doing it again (losing weight and getting healthy) was "but of COURSE you can do that!" 

The second person who believed in my ability to get healthy was my husband.  He said "Honey, you know the program works for you, why not do it again?  It will work again!"

So I bundled up their faith in my abilities and I KNEW that THIS TIME would HAVE to be different in my MIND because NO WAY was I going to put forward all the effort I knew it would take to lose 140 pounds "again" and it was too heartbreaking of a scenario to even THINK of the possibility I would gain it all back YET AGAIN.  I knew that I only had it "in me" to "do this" one more time in my life.  That is how I felt at the time.

Enter Take Shape For Life.

It has been a wild ride, I can honestly assure you there has been no downside.  It has been 4 years of growth, mental gymnastics, self-discovery, and some tears.  It has ranged from almost banging my head against a wall because I didn't understand "why" I tended towards certain behaviors that I couldn't seem to change, and the "ah-ha" moments of realizing I didn't HAVE to understand the WHY, I only needed to adopt HEALTHIER HABITS to over-ride those habits of disease that had been firmly entrenched in my earlier life and were stubborn to dislodge.  The WHY's hardly even existed anymore, the REASON I had developed those unhealthy habits were likely coping mechanisms I had turned to in childhood and adolesence which had simply become habits.  Stress-eating?  Habit.  Comfort-eating?  Habit.  Bored-eating?  Habit.  Conflict-eating?  Habit.  Now it was time to develop HEALTHY habits and focus on those.  So I did. 

And it didn't take rocket science to do so, it didn't take me inventing the wheel.  The system and tools and methods were ALL THERE provided for me, I simply needed to submit myself to doing the work of those who had developed it.  I read the book.  I did the workbook.  I followed their instruction and advice, meanwhile adhering as close as humanly possible to "the eating part" of the Medifast 5&1, which is the tool that TSFL uses in the science of fat-burning, to actually USE UP our fat reserves.

Was I perfect?  Can I get a clear and resounding "NO!"  But I view it similarly to how I view Bible Studies.  I don't have to be perfect to point people to the materials.  I don't have to be perfect to host a Bible Study in my home, for example.  Can you imagine if we set the same expectations of perfection on Pastors and Bible Study Leaders?  "You aren't a perfect person, you must have 'sinned' this week therefore you are disqualified from hosting the Bible Study."  Whew!  Our entire Church, Inc. in this country would shut down OVERNIGHT!

No, not being perfect doesn't make me a hypocrite.  I live an authentic life in both my faith AND my health.  And it is authentically transparent.  I'm not afraid of my faults, and I share them whenever I can LOL!  They are many.  But my overriding orientation is towards optimal and ultra-health, and if I stumble I get up and make my next meal a Medifast one.  Period.  Rinse and Repeat!  Period.

And I have never given up.  Nor have I ever just decided to give FOOD a place on the throne of my life.  So many people ditch the plan and ditch their health goals because they wanted the yummy food.

I want more out of life than food can give me.  Food, when used improperly in my life, gave me heartache, disease, pain, and a feeling of emptiness, a feeling that I was missing my purpose.  And I was.  By my own doing. 

How I feel now is so night-and-day different than how I felt 4 years ago I can't even describe to you the place I am in now without sounding like I am bragging or something. 

I give credit where credit is due.  I am no superwoman.  I simply agreed to following a system and I will be forever grateful to Medifast and Take Shape For Life and Dr. Andersen for making it their BUSINESS to get America healthy.  I simply followed.  I followed and followed until someone told me I couldn't follow anymore, and guess what, no one has EVER said I couldn't follow anymore.  And so, I "found myself" here.  Because of the choice I made to follow, adhere, submit, and live authentically.

Where is YOUR "here?"  Are you happy with where you are?  Are you thrilled with where you are going?  The tools are here.  The tools are waiting for you.  Connect with your Coach.  Read the book.  Yes there is a fair amount of DOING involved, but that is how healthy habits are built.  By doing.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Goal.  Of Phase 1.  Now on to Phase 2:  Transition! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

This Program is SO EXPENSIVE!!!

I cannot believe how expensive this program is.  It really is a shock to my wallet!

I just spent $$$$ on a PLANE ticket to PARIS and $$$$ on pre-paid lodging on Airbnb.com to stay in a cozy HOUSEBOAT moored at the BASE of the EIFFEL TOWER for 11 nights so I can run a MARATHON that cost me $$$ to register for (my bib# is 61234).

I cannot tell you how much of a surprise it is how EXPENSIVE this plan really is.

I can tell you, I would not HAVE to be spending this money right now if I had just LISTENED to that little voice in my head at the BEGINNING, when I started the plan with 140 pounds to LOSE.

But I guess I can't go back in time NOW, it is TOO LATE FOR ME.

LOL.

All kidding aside, let me be candid here.  When I began the plan in 2010 I can tell you from the bottom of my heart our financial situation was NOT in the place where we could easily add $300+ a month to our budget.  But we made some HUGE sacrifices.  We prioritized ALL of our entertainment budget, gift budget, clothes budget, vacation budget, etc into my monthly MEDICINE, which is what I considered the PCMR's to be (The PCMR's are the only thing you pay for on this plan, besides one book which has the educational component for behavior modification in it).

I had no "diagnosed" medical condition except for plantar fasciitis and a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome suspicion from my college days.  But I was not living.  I was slowly dying inside AND outside with a BMI of OVER 47, and I had just purchased a cane because my knees hurt when I walked.  I got stuck in the freaking turnstiles at Disneyworld in Florida on my son's "Make-a-Wish Trip" when he was 4 years old after he had his kidney transplant.  Life was not looking hopeful for me, and the prospect of life as a Class IV Super-Obese (that is one class BEYOND "Morbid-Obese") individual was unable to get health insurance OR life insurance.  I was a ticking time bomb.

Had I STAYED in denial because "the food costs $339 a month" and NOT taken action, I cannot tell you where I would be right now because there just are no guarantees in life and I was a prime candidate for a sudden, massive coronary event that could have TAKEN my life.

But instead, I looked at the PCMR's (Portion-Controlled Meal Replacements) as my lifeline, my tools, my medicine, and I looked at myself as the person who would run the Paris Marathon IN Paris someday.

That someday has a date.  It is April 6th 2014, Lord willing.

And now I have a plane ticket on British Airways.  And I have a place to stay, which looks like the coolest place on the PLANET to stay, a little houseboat moored right on the Seine River at the base of the Eiffel Tower.  I saw what my life COULD look like, if I committed to MAKING IT SO one day, one decision at a time.  When I fell I got up.  When I ate off plan for a day I got right back on plan immediately.  I carved this out with my determination and what I am trying to say here is that ANYONE CAN DO THIS.

ANYONE can decide, TODAY, that you are going to create something amazing with this process.  Whether you want to dance, skydive, horseback ride, kayak, snowboard, ski, WHATEVER IT IS, fix it firmly in your sights and keep at it.

And know that changing your life can indeed be EXPENSIVE.  =)

Indeed.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Who WAS That SMURF?

Yesterday I had 3 miles on the schedule to run for my Paris Marathon Training!  Problem was it was raining CATS AND DOGS the entire day, and it was even a little bit chilly (and that is SAYING something for Arizona!).  By the time I could get out the door it was getting dark, but I was NOT going to NOT do it.  It was on the schedule.  Didn't matter how I felt.  Didn't matter what I WANTED to do right that moment.



So, I put on all my gear and went out the door.  Got SOAKED within 5 minutes, so returned and found my TSFL Rain Poncho!  I had packed it in my backpack already for Paris (which isn't until April, but I'm kinda excited for it as you can tell), and I opened it up and put it on and away I went! 

Sometimes ya gotta do what you may not think you want to do just because you decided it was important.

What are your plans this week?  Have you decided that it is just "too much stress" to adhere to your food plan while the Holiday week unfolds (or unravels, depending on how you look at it)?

Then you are probably holding your breath while you are doing this plan.  You are white-knuckling it, using all of your energy and are probably EXHAUSTED trying to adhere to your "diet".

If I didn't have a strong "why" you better believe I wouldn't have been out last night in the dark cold rain running 3 miles.  Who does that?

Someone who has determined that doing that is necessary to achieve a greater goal.  Someone who not only wanted to ATTAIN, but wants to MAINTAIN optimal health.

Are you looking at today's food plan as a drudgery?  Something to "get through" and something to be sort of miserable and unhappy because you HAVE to do it?  I encourage you to rediscover WHY you are doing this whole thing.

Are you focusing on being DEPRIVED of all the YUMMY FOOD this next week?  Is it putting you in a right bad mood?

It is the plain truth that there are people on this site RIGHT NOW maybe even reading THIS BLOG who will decide that it is just TOO HARD to DIET over the Holidays.  They will decide to "take a break" for a couple of weeks, you know, just until after Christmas or New Year, and then they'll "get back at it" because it will be "easier".

Is that the goal?  Easy? 

Or is the goal that you want out of your fat suit? 

Is the goal convenience?

Or is the goal that you have a tiny spark of hope inside you that maybe, just maybe, you can RADICALLY CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

I challenge you to fan THAT flame.  Fan the flame of radical change.  Is it easy and painless?  No.  Easy and painless would be anesthesia.

I was done being numb.  I chose life.  I chose health.

What will you choose?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why My First Triathlon was a Raving Success!........

....Even though I did not ever cross the finish line......

I'm still remembering, as if it were YESTERDAY, the very first Sprint Distance Triathlon (and in fact ONLY Triathlon) I have ever competed in.

I hope to do another someday, but for now the Golden Gate Triathlon of 2012 stands as the pinnacle of my athletic success (until I reach another pinnacle, the Paris Marathon, in April 2014 Lord willing!)

"How could it have been a success?  You didn't even finish the race!"

No, but I STARTED it. 

Let me explain.

In order to cross the STARTING line of the Golden Gate Triathlon in June of 2012, I had to:

Lose 130 pounds
Be able to swim 1/4 mile
Be able to ride a bike for 12 miles
Be able to run a 5K
Put all of those together and have a prayer of even THINKING I could finish it in one event.
Buy a ticket to San Francisco
Buy a wetsuit, and have it fit
Rent a bicycle when I got to San Francisco, and keep it in my little hotel room
Get up at 3:30 am on Race Day to ride my bike in the dark through the streets of San Francisco with for 1 hour with all of my gear in my backpack including my wetsuit just to get to the STARTING area by 5:00.

Every one of these task had to be accomplished in the proper order, at the proper time, with the proper equipment and in the proper place for me to accomplish my goal.  My goal of STARTING the Triathlon LOL.

And I did it.

If you ask me "what was the moment when it all came down to the wire, which was the moment when it was do or die?" 

I can remember it vividly.  It was actually when the alarm clock went off at 3:15 am on the morning of the race.  The bed was warm.  I had an inkling that I had forgotten my swim-suit for underneath my wetsuit (turns out as I was to find out later swim-suits are indeed optional underneath the wetsuit LOL!), and decided to give ONE MORE LOOK in my luggage, half hoping I would NOT find it and could crawl back underneath the warm covers on the chilly San Francisco morning.

I turned on the light.  I looked in the bag I KNEW I had already looked in, just ONE more time. 

And I found my suit.

Bear in mind, I had already told my husband the night before that I couldn't find my swim-suit, and wasn't sure if I would be able to compete in the Triathlon, so I had already sort of set the expectation for him that I would NOT do it.

But the steely resolve, that bull-dog tenacity that I have noticed in myself in some of the most interesting ways at the most interesting times rose to the surface.  For me, that moment, the moment of "Decide quickly because  you are truly running out of time to make this decision....what will it be?  Follow through?  Or throw in the towel?"

All of the preparation I had done, all the training, those laps I swam, those miles I rode on my one-speed back-pedal-to-brake $50 Garage Sale Bike with the Swarovski Crystals glued to the handlebars (yes I blinged it out myself..spent more on the crystals than I did on the bike!), those miles I ran, the weight I lost, the ticket I bought, the expectations I set, EVERYTHING came down to what seemed like a small decision at 3:25 am in a little hotel room near the Embarcadero.  Do I stay or do I go.

10 minutes later I was cycling through the fog. 

An hour later I was suiting up into my wetsuit and lining up on the beach of the San Francisco Marina near the Golden Gate Bridge.

And the airhorn went off, and I scrambled into the cold bay with hundreds of other ATHLETES. 

I think that was the DAY I became an athlete, although I knew I was one at heart.

Does it matter that the current turned into a dangerous rip-tide trying to sweep us under the bridge and out to see, and after 45 minutes of all of us swimming and very few of us even getting to or around the first bouy they apologised profusely as they instructed all of us to return to shore and they ditched the water-portion?  No.

Did it matter that I was SHAKING from the exertion of swimming for 45 minutes against a current, and could hardly pedal 4 of the 12 miles for the bike portion?

No.

Did it matter that I collapsed in a heap after biking that 4 miles and ignoring completely the 3.1 mile run? 

No.

Because that's just how races go sometimes!  But I HAD BECOME an athlete.  I WAS a participant in an amazing sprint distance Triathlon.  In my eyes I was a success because I SHOWED UP FOR MYSELF WHEN IT MATTERED.

That's kind of what we are all doing here, aren't we?  We are showing up for ourselves.  We are betting that we CAN DO THIS!  (Because we all CAN!)  And we are putting faith in OUR ability to do what it TAKES when it MATTERS.

Our life matters.  Our health matters.  Consistency and persistence matter.  Conditions can effect us, but it is what we do and what we decide when we absolutely are tired of doing all the hard work it took us to get as far as we have which determine whether we will succeed.

I could have packed it in that morning at 3:15, I could have gone with my initial assessment that I had forgotten my swim suit, been a little disappointed in myself, and come home.

I didn't.

The extra effort it took at the moment of decision, deciding to be brave and to DO what seemed INSANE (cycle 1 hour in the dark in a strange town just to get to the starting line) at the time was ME showing up for myself.  Being my hero that day.

How will you be your hero today?  For some it will simply be drinking 90 ounces of water.  Yay you!  For some it will be actually getting out that kitchen scale, dusting it off, and USING it to weigh your cooked lean protein, making sure to adhere to the amounts as written in the Quick Start Guide and intentionally adding your required healthy fats to your meal.  You see, you've been resisting that, fighting against it, and it really is to your BENEFIT to do it as written.  For some it will be saying no to that second cup of coffee with half and half in it, because you've already had one perfect cup today.  Make the next one black.  Be your hero.  For some it will be setting your cell-phone timer to 2.5 hours after you eat so that you get your next meal in on time, because you ALWAYS are late on your second Medifast Meal and go 4-5 hours in between meals sometimes.  Be your hero.  Set that timer.  For some it will be asking Aunt Penny if you can bring a salad to Thanksgiving.  Be your hero.  Be brave.  For some it will be getting the shoes on and getting out the door for that 1/2 hour walk, even though it is a little gloomy outside and you don't really feel like doing it. 

Next time you don't feel like it, picture me cycling an hour at 3:30 am in the dark.  =)  It is my GO-TO memory for days I just don't feel like it....

And it works every time for me LOL!

You can borrow it for awhile until you make your own memories of doing things you don't want to do.  The OLD you wouldn't do that.  The NEW you?  No boundaries baby.  You got this!

Rinse and Repeat!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weird New Trick Solves Your Weight Problem Once and For All!

Boy that would sure get my attention if I saw that guarantee somewhere!  I mean, really, who DOESN'T want their weight problem SOLVED once and for ALL?  Gone?  Kaput?  Never have to think about it or worry about what will fit you in your closet and what won't again!  Never have to look at those pesky shaded charts on the back of the Spanx package to pronounce your fate of which letter size you fall into, hoping it isn't still a D or E.  You know what I'm talking about!

Here's the thing.  Sure I'm not morbidly obese anymore.  Sure I'm a healthy weight.  Sure it took time.  But I didn't "Solve my weight problem". 

This body, and the way it functions, is still the same body which was capable, if I allowed it, to be Class IV Super-Obese.  I will never "solve" the way my body uses calories and certain types of foods. 

What I'm trying to say is that I give a PROPER RESPECT and consideration to the limitations of my body every single DAY. 

Every.
Single.
Day.

People say "the hard part is maintaining".  And to that I say "It's all hard....but it is all worth it!"  It is simply giving EACH DAY it's due, and respecting my goals, my eating plan, and my limitations.

It's not a once-for-all-for-always decision, nor is it a once-for-all-for-always action.  Now I know this is a tough pill to swallow for us "All-or-nothing" mentality folks.  I used to be an all-or-nothing mentality person, and what it usually left ME with was NOTHING.

There is no "final decision" or "magic thought switch" that will transport you to a world of being able to disregard the limitations of your body.

BUT, if you DESIRE health, you have chosen the RIGHT METHOD to get you there.  This health plan I coach for is indeed a Maserati of plans, it will get you there safely, rapidly, effectively, if you EACH DAY submit to the plan and follow the directions and recommendations.

But each day is a new choice. 

I didn't decide "once-and-for-all" in July of 2010 to "finish this thing and be done with it already".

What I DID decide was to take that first step towards health, and stay on plan THAT DAY.  Once I got through THAT DAY, I got through the NEXT DAY.

But the decision and the choice is always one I have to re-make every single morning, and it looks something like this:

Good morning me!  Today I have a choice.  I can either act in accordance with my goals of attaining and maintaining a healthy weight/optimal health, or I can NOT.  What am I gonna choose TODAY?"

And the choice is ALWAYS OPTIMAL HEALTH.

At the end of the day, did I always succeed 100% in my endeavor?  Most days yes, some days no, but I take it ONE DAY AT A TIME and I never waiver in my commitment to MAKE THAT DECISION every morning.

Some mornings it is harder than others.  Especially if the night before I indulged in something that would NOT take me closer to my goals.  The carb-brain takes over and I don't FEEL like choosing health that day.  But on THOSE days I do it anyway.  I make the choice.  In the morning.  First thing.

All I have to do is GLANCE SIDEWAYS at the alternative for me if I DON'T daily choose health.  And that alternative is in my BEFORE photos wearing a PINK shirt and she doesn't look happy at ALL.

No, I choose health.  I choose it every day.  And twice sometimes on Sundays.  =)  And let me tell you the peace and joy I feel when I do.  It is very real.

Rinse and Repeat!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

That Little Voice In Your Head Telling You That You Can't Do This Is a Liar!

I was just looking at accommodations in Paris in April for when I run the Paris Marathon.  Me.  Run.  The Paris Marathon. 

Can I tell you how exciting it is to greet every day with optimism instead of the despair I used to feel as a Class IV Super-Obese person who needed a cane because her knees hurt so much?  If anyone was allowed to have a reasonable doubt of my ability to be a healthy weight, let alone run a MARATHON someday, it was ME! 

I decided to ignore my doubts.  I decided to live EACH DAY in accordance with the knowledge of the FACT that if I followed the plan EXACTLY, over a matter of time I WOULD become a healthy weight.

Eventually I even began ignoring my doubts about whether or not I could actually be an athlete, and I BEGAN to BE an athlete.  I started slowly, just walking.  Then, as I had more energy and was moving towards "just" overweight (from obese) I challenged myself with the C25K Free Podcast Program in order that I might be able to run a 5K someday.

And I ran a 5K.

Then I set my sights on a 10K.  And I ran a 10K.  Then a sprint-distance triathlon.  I didn't finish that, but I DID participate.  I HAD BECOME an athlete, and I had the triathlon wetsuit (which I fit into!) to prove it.

Now I am training for a full Marathon.  And I am solidly an athlete.  And I am solidly a healthy BMI.  And I am living SOLIDLY in Optimal Health on my way to Ultra Health.

Because I ignored that little voice.  It never disappeared, I just learned how to identify it and put it into the same category I put fairytales.  Not.  True.

And I DID every day what I knew would take me towards all of my goals.

Simply?  Move a little more, and adhere to the food plan.  Drink my water and read Dr. A.  Act EACH DAY in accordance with where I wanted to be EVENTUALLY, not allowing the momentary temptations or doubts to bloom into action.

Was I perfect?  No.  Was I consistent?  Yes.  Did I persevere?  Yes.  Anytime my foot slipped I would pick myself up again and make my next meal a Medifast Meal.  Every.  Time.

And, OVER time, results are obtained.  Every decision you make TODAY, this instant, will have an impact over time if it is repeated daily.  So make today count.  TODAY.  It WILL shape your tomorrow.  And it can lead to STUNNING results or TRAGIC results.  You choose.

Rinse and Repeat!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Will We Project on Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Do you catch yourself thinking or SAYING "I can't have that" quite a bit? 

If you are thinking that or saying it out loud, don't be the least be surprised when your family seems to pour on the pressure on Thanksgiving and Christmas to just "have some of your favorite foods already!"

The longing looks at the pumpkin pie, the wistful glances at the stuffing, all of these betray you and serve NO purpose but to make your family members and friends INTENT ON SEEING YOU ENJOY YOURSELF.

If WE make it about the food, THEY will make it about the food.

Don't you just ONCE want to taste the freedom that comes from NOT CARING about what you are going to have for that Thanksgiving meal?  Not caring that everyone is going back for seconds and thirds of pecan pie with real whipped cream or a' la mode?

And truly truly NOT CARING?

Then decide to CHANGE your MIND about food.  Ditch that hyper food-centric relationship you have with what you put in your mouth.  Because whatever you project will be reflected back to you.

Don't even mention what you are having or not having until Thanksgiving Day!  Here's something that will BLOW THE MIND of everyone who asks YOU, the person on a diet, how you will handle Thanksgiving.

"I don't know yet.  Haven't really thought about it.  Sort of ambivalent.  I'll probably eat some sort of, well, FOOD."

Can you imagine the double take you will get when you say something like THAT?  I mean REALLY? 

If you are wondering what my plans are, they are to not make a big deal about anything.  I don't feel entitled for anyone to either MAKE something that I "CAN" have, nor do I feel I need to plan out to the last detail, take my little tupperware items and make a big show or big deal about "being on MY plan....."

What does that mean practically?  Well, since it's at my house I will show up.  My job is to make the Turkey so I will make the Turkey.  My sister is bringing the sides.  Likely she will bring a salad, because they eat healthy too, but if she doesn't I don't really care one way or another.

Because for me, Thanksgiving is about the people, and giving thanks, and I will not attach meaning to a piece of pumpkin pie or some cranberry sauce EVER AGAIN.  It's just not who I am anymore.

If I can't hobble together a perfect Lean and Green then so what, I'll have some turkey and eat a salad later on.

MIND.
BLOW.

I know.  I'm ambivalent.  I don't care.  Because I'm thankful for my health, I'm thankful for my family. 

Please don't misunderstand, I am not condemning those who still attach sentimentality to their Christmas Cookies.  That person just isn't me anymore.

In past years I've had the question a few times "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?", and the person asking would let it hang in the air as with baited breath, as if it would be great entertainment for them to watch the girl on a diet try to avoid the goodies.

It just won't be that way for me.  I won't allow it to.  You see, I'm not that girl anymore.  I'm ME.   Actually, to tell you the truth, if someone asks "What are you doing for Thanksgiving" I'll likely be saying "Oh on that particular day my training schedule says I will be running 5 miles."

Rinse and Repeat!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"You Know You Want It......"

.......came the comment (more like the taunt LOL) from the Costco Sampler Lady who was baking fresh (from a mix) cornbread today.

Actually, I don't.  Really.  Truly.  Honestly, and from every fiber of my being.  I don't want it.  It doesn't tempt me, haunt me from the other aisle, linger on my memory as I wander into the fresh meat section with any "I wish I could have that" thoughts. 

The truth is, I can have it.  I can have anything I want, as much of it as I want, whenever I want.  And what I DON'T want is cornbread samples from Costco.

So no, I know that I DON'T want it.  I've been the consumer she IS actually targeting before.  I've BEEN the morbidly obese fat girl wandering from Costco sample station to Costco sample station, just because FOOD was AVAILABLE to me.  Didn't really matter WHAT was being sampled, whether it was cheesecake, sugared almonds, chocolate truffles, chipotle-raspberry-sauce-on-cream-cheese on Ritz, tuna salad, mozarella poppers, whatever.  You can bet I'd be in line, standing quietly, waiting for that hot pocket to come out of the toaster oven, waiting for the sample-lady to cut it up into 8 bite-size pieces and put them in the little paper-cup thingies.  Oh yes.  I remember.

I also remember how I felt back then.  I remember the lumbering way I used to walk, arms swinging OUT from my shoulders instead of straight down, because I was as big around my middle (circumference) as I was tall.  I remember wondering if I would be able to have enough room to get in and out of my car door depending on how close someone had parked to me.  I remember wondering whether the theater seat would fit me.  Wondering whether the booth the waitress was taking us to had enough clearance for my very large middle, and should I just request a table BEFORE we even GET to the booth so I don't have to find out?  Wondering whether the intermittent pain I felt in my chest was REALLY anything to worry about.....

I'll tell you how life is different now. 

I can wear everything in my closet.
I can greet the day with a smile, and everyone in it.
I can squeeze through a turnstile sideways without even engaging the metal turny thingy!  (I remember getting STUCK in the turnstile at Disneyworld in 2009, they had to let me through the stroller gate with no stroller)
I can walk down the center aisle of an airplane straight on, no turning to the side, no scooching sideways at all.
I can put my seatbelt on in the car AND in an airplane with plenty of room to spare.
I can run 10 miles without walking.
I can wear knee-high zip-up leather boots.


Pure Joy.

I'll tell you what I truly wake up WANTING.  Nothing.  I don't WANT for anything anymore.  I am truly content with my HEALTH, my LIFE, all of it!  I am living in Ultra-Health right now and sure I suppose I could trade that for a piece of Costco Cornbread from the Sample Lady, but, naw, I don't WANT to.

Honestly.

Rinse and Repeat!