Dec 14, 2011

The Times They Are A'Changin'

Well, here we are... I haven't mentioned it on here before, and haven't really talked about my job much at all, but in my job world everything is about to change. My research lab, called AFSRC, was proposed for closure by the president's 2012 budget, and congress has agreed that it is time to close down AFSRC forever. There are around 55 scientists, technicians, and support personnel employed here, and we are about to be poofed out of existence. They are actually going to offer each of us a job *somewhere in the country,* but very few of us will be able to take what they offer. It's hard to just pack up and move away from your family and everything you've always known to somewhere else which could just as easily be closed in the next few years.

So anyway, times are changing. I'm looking for new work. We're really not sure where we'll end up, or what we'll end up doing, but for now I have 2 interviews with WV Department of Environmental Protection (actually these will be my 2nd and 3rd with DEP), so we will see what comes of it. If not... move to Cleveland...? Perhaps.

When they finally decided to close our lab... and the funny thing is, it'll be several months before work at this location actually ends, thanks to the killer efficiency of the federal government... but when they finally dropped the hammer on us, and they told us that we really have very little to do now when we come to work... they said our main job is to "protect the equipment," and the equipment is pretty protected as long as it doesn't go scooting itself off the edge of a counter or anything. So when they decided to close us, I decided that I will go to our TOTALLY FREE gym Every Single Day that I'm at work until they close the doors on me.

And I'm doing it! It's been almost 3 weeks now, and whether I'm here all day or half a day or whatever, I have gotten a workout in EVERY day (except yesterday actually, because I had a stomach ailment). It's feeling GREAT, and it's really making a habit out of working out for me. My body and mind almost crave it, and even if they don't crave it, they have at least come to expect it.

My mind: "2:55pm? 5 minutes 'till workout time... do we have a playlist ready? What are we going to do today...?"

It's all good. And Wednesdays have become my Nike Training App days. They have a bajillion workouts on there, and I've only done 2 sofar, both of them of the Beginner variety. MAN, do those kick my butt! I love it! Other than that, I do elliptical, Bowflex, and on days that I'm really tired I just walk the treadmill. I've gone through almost the entire Star Wars trilogy sofar (watching, not listening).

So, job coming to an end... changes around the corner... and workouts are going strong!

Nov 24, 2011

My first Turkey Trot

Happy Thanksgiving! For the last many years, we've been at Universal Studios Orlando for Thanksgiving, and this year we are very thankful to be having a down home Thanksgiving with all the fixins with people we love. We're going to have some awesome home-cooked food today, instead of subsisting on popcorn, beer, and dinner at Margaritaville. It's going to be awesome.

This year, I also committed to participating in the Gomer PR Thanksgiving 5k Challenge. I signed up to do it back in September, and my plan was to train train train so that I could actually achieve a PR (personal record) 5k today. I would have had to run 11-minute miles to succeed. I was going to do interval training, hills, and work on getting a little bit faster every week.

It didn't happen.

I did, however, do two 5k's in October--the Beckley Half Marathon/5k, and the Oglebayfest 5k in the Park, the latter of which was the hardest race I've ever run. It had an uphill towards the end that was one of those hills that you could practically use both your hands and feet to scramble up. I don't know if anyone ran up that hill, but if they did, kudos to them. I also helped plan and volunteered for a 5k event for World Run Day, the 2nd Annual Marlinton Friends of Midwives 5k, which was a fun way to raise money for an organization I care about. I also did some non-running workouts here and there.

But as for training for a personal record 5k that would take place today, Thanksgiving Day, I did not succeed. Even yesterday I failed to prepare. I did an elliptical workout (instead of resting), ate too much food, drank some beer last night, stayed up late, didn't put together a play list, and didn't even plan where I would run 3.1 miles this morning. This morning came, and needless to say, I woke in a bad mood.

We stayed at my in law's house last night, so I wasn't familiar with the area. I considered driving into town to run at my house, or on the rail trail, or at a state park, or on a high school track... I even considered paying $20 and running in the local 5 miler today, which would have been totally crazy. Maybe next year. Finally, I whined to Bryan after he woke up that "I'm not even gonna run today, this is just stupid." He left the room, and I assumed that he was just annoyed with me.

I put on my running clothes anyway, after reading Gomer 1's encouraging tweets to all of those who will be running Turkey Trots today. A few minutes later, Bryan showed me a route he'd come up with on the iPad that would get me exactly 3.1 miles. He then took my whining butt to the van to drive the route for me so I could see it. I suggested maybe he let me out at the 1.55 mile mark, and I'd just do a Half 5k. How lame is that!? Thankfully, he didn't. I told him I'd probably walk the hills, and he said "Don't say that, you need to try to do your best."

We got back, I started up my Runkeeper and my playlist (turns out I forgot to randomize it, so I listened to Aerosmith thru The Bad Plus, so lame of me), and started. I still felt pouty. Anyway, this is getting long... suffice to say, I did it. It was super hard to do, and it took me 41:28 to get it done.

So it's Thanksgiving, and the first thing I was thankful for today was my amazing husband not letting me give up on something that was really important to me. It's Thanksgiving, I've already spent over 400 calories, I had a great healthy breakfast, and I'm ready to enjoy the rest of this amazing day.

Thanks to the Gomers for issuing this challenge. I'm sorry I didn't get a PR, and technically "failed" the challenge. But for me, today, it was awesome.

Sep 27, 2011

What did YOU rock out today???

I've been wanting to write this post for a loooong time. I always talk myself out of it, sadly because I probably feel like I didn't actually rock out very much that day. But in truth, we rock out something EVERY DAY. Every day we make decisions that lead us to being better people, and we almost always immediately discount those decisions, labeling them "unimportant," or "still not good enough." Not today! In fact, every single day you should be able to make a list of the things you totally rocked out that day.

Sometimes it feels like we take so many steps back with every step forward, or that lately we've only taken steps back... but we have to remember that if we were to give up, we would stop taking steps forward at all, and soon we would be mired in the dread of "where am I going?" A very wise woman told me (this morning) that even the steps back are progress when we recognize that they are indeed in the wrong direction.

So, what did you do today that was a step forward? What did you do that made you feel GOOD about yourself? I want a reply from everyone on this thread... Annie, Sara, Mom, Bryan, Aunt Son, CC, Shelia... whoever reads it. Hit reply, and tell me not only one thing, but a list of 4 or more things that you did today that were steps forward.

What did you totally rock out today...?

Sep 7, 2011

A Tiny Spark Will Do It

After a great run last week, I needed something to get my butt off the couch this Labor Day Weekend... voila! The Gomers announced a Virtual 5k Gomer Run for Labor Day [spark]. I signed up, decided to do it, and told one friend (Bryan) that I was going to do it--even though it was raining. Monday morning came and the rain was pouring, but Bryan faithfully looked at the radar for me and said "if you're going to run, you gotta go now. You have 20 minutes before it gets a lot worse." Well, even though 20 minutes wasn't long enough, I went. I spent 39:02 minutes running (walking some) in the rain, and it was glorious. Rain squished between my toes, ran into my eyes, made me take off and stow my glasses away, filled my ears, and shorted out one of my earbuds. I made it though (thankfully no lightening was to be seen), and I can't believe I can whip out a 5k just like that. Wow. Funny thing is, "running a 5k" is never something I would've even put on a bucket list a few years ago. I would've said maybe "run a mile," but never would I have thought that I could run 3.1.

Yesterday it was still raining, and I took it easy. Went out to the farm at work, walked maybe 20 minutes in the rain out there, and decided (inevitably?) to go to the Chinese buffet for lunch. It's just what we do when it's raining. I didn't eat so much that I was absolutely miserable all afternoon, but did eat enough to feel quite sleepy. Oh well, one meal, right?

Dinner came and I wisely decided on a Wendy's 1/2 salad and baked potato. I was feeling frisky though, and decided also to have a child size Frosty for dessert. One of those "I can do whatever I want!" kindof decisions. It was delicious. At home, I ended up having 3 Willy Wonka chocolates before shutting down the kitchen for the night. Shew! Barely made it out of that day without a full-on debacle. 

Today comes and I was supposed to run this morning. Didn't. Just laid there, not even really considering it. Realized later that my clothes which I thought were in the dryer were in the washer, as if that's an excuse for not even getting up to check. Oh well. Started to feel a little low about myself. 

Got to work, started crunching on a way-too-hard pear, and read my email. Coolest thing happened... Yum Yucky had sent out a motivational reminder to participants in her "Finish What You Started Challenge." It was a nice, long, thoughtful message [spark] that said exactly what I needed to hear. She said
"even if you slept in late, missed your workout, chewed on doughnutsfor breakfast, guzzled down a 30-ounce soda with that tasty highcarb lunch, and then couch-azzed the night away"

...that I could still make progress, and that "the key here is not perfection - you and I are not capable of perfection." God knows I can't hear that enough. I am not capable of perfection. I should write that 100 times on a piece of notebook paper. 

So, thanks Josie. In part because of you, I have just staved off a very hungry morning with a big, healthy lunch (rather than caving and going to Subway for the new $5 footlong I heard an ad for on the radio), and will use those calories to carry me on 'till 3:30 o'clock, whereupon I will scoot my butt over to the gym and do some serious work (while watching Star Wars on the VHS). It's going to be awesome. 

I hope you all get your [spark] today. 

Sep 1, 2011

My Fitness Pals

My littlest sister Annie told me a few weeks ago that I just had to download "this app we've been using" (meaning she and my other little sister, Beth) for food and fitness. I was like "Whatever, Annie, I've seen all the food logging apps." But she said this one was great, and I had to check it out, because not only were she and Beth on it, but Dad was on it too, and also Sara (3rd and final sister). I downloaded it to placate her, but I didn't open it 'till (sorry Annie) I saw some fancy fitness blogger was using it, too. I'm such a snob.

So I started using MyFitnessPal, and lemme tell you... Annie was actually right; it's great! It updates splendidly from the internet version to my mobile phone--I have never had an incident where I entered things on my computer, then checked my phone and it hadn't updated. It has a very good database of food, AND you can add your own foods that can either be corroborated or refuted by other users (Wikipedia-like). The database for exercise is okay, but I've had some issues with logging strength training exercise and it saying that I hadn't burned ANY calories doing them. Also, we found after some digging that you can share your food journal with your friends, or even make it public, which is something I'd really been wanting to do. 

I am LauraWV on there, and I have 4 friends: Annie, Beth, Sara, and Dad. It's like our own personal little twitterverse where we share our successes and comments on what we're doing, with other people who really want to know. I used to tweet all my healthy lifestyle victories on Twitter, but I've gotten away from that thinking that most of my twitter friends could give two hoots whether I ran or mowed the lawn for exercise today. I love MyFitnessPal, and it's helping me immensely to re-focus on my healthy lifestyle. 

So thanks to the support and camaraderie I've been getting from my sisters (and under the knowing oversight of Dad), I've been having a GREAT couple of weeks. 

Tuesday night, during a night of truly horrendous sleep, I told myself that if I was still awake by 5AM, I'd just go out and run. It was better than laying there being frustrated about not being able to sleep for another hour. Five AM came, I was still awake, so I got up. I went out, and it was so dark and beautiful outside. The stars were bright in the sky, and I could see Orion shining over me. Took my 5min warm-up walk with Lupin, leashed him in the front yard, and went off to run my 28 minutes of Couch to 5k Training, Week 8 Day 2. 

As soon as I started running I felt absolutely great. It was just one of those great runs. I went up hills, down hills, went all the way out the road that I had pictured (as I lay in bed unable to sleep an hour previously) I would make it to before the guy in my ear said "you are halfway done," and I turned around. It still seemed easy, and before I knew it I was back at my front yard and he was saying "workout complete." Unbelievable. I ran for 28 minutes (2.2 miles) without stopping, feeling great, and it was still dark when I got home. I had so much time... took a leisurely shower, then laid down with the family for another 20 minutes before I made them wake up. 

I would never have done it if I couldn't come home and immediately post it to MyFitnessPal, so my sisters and Dad would all know that I'd done my exercise for the day, subtly challenging them to do the same. 

Aug 22, 2011

Two years of "Stateless Dieting"

It's been 2 years. Two years since I started this healthy lifestyle of mine. I was getting ready to post a comment on Roni's blog that mentioned my 2 years, and I actually had to stop and consult my Calorie Count ( weight loss chart to make sure I was right about it being two years since I started this thing.
There it is: proof. I started logging my progress in June of 2009, and here I am in August of 2011 still going like the Energizer Bunny. 

--Well, not exactly like the Energizer Bunny. You can see quite a few ups and downs there in the 2011 period, and you can see that I'm still right around where I was in August 2010, weightwise. I have given this issue quite a bit of thought, but we'll leave that for another day.

The point is, I'm still doing it! That's a heckuva long way that I've come down... the slope is such that this image is in "portrait" rather than "landscape." It stands up on its own, living proof that I've done it and I'm still doing it. I haven't gone back up, and I won't ever. 

The single biggest reason that I've been able to make it this long...? I'll tell you: it's the concept of the "stateless diet," which I learned from Roni. The idea is that I am not "on a diet." I am merely living my life one day, one meal at a time. Some meals are great because they are super healthy, tasty, and they get me through to the next meal like gangbusters. Some meals are great because they are sufficiently high in carbs... and fat... and joy... that they allow my brain the freedom to enjoy food and life at the same time. Some meals just really suck, because I wasn't prepared, I didn't have the right food, or I was just lazy. None of these meals have to affect future ones. I eat them and I move on. I live my life. 


As a side note, I was standing in a Sheetz the other day with two cups of ice and a pack of Butterscotch Krimpets in my hand (they were for Bryan, not me). It was after 9pm, and I had 3 hours of driving home to look forward to. It had been an awesome day full of birthday party at my mom's house. I was in a very long line to buy this confection for Bryan, and I started to lament my circumstances. "Why do I need to be here in this line right now? Why don't they have another lane open? It's so LATE already!" I started to become a sourpuss, but then I quickly turned it all around with this thought: "This is life... right now... and I am in it. I am here, with all these interesting people to look at, who are buying their late night snacks, and I get to get into my car with 2 sleeping kids and my husband, and drive home tonight." In that store, in that long line, arms full of stuff, I smiled. I was happy, and it lasted the rest of the night. Bryan and I talked all the way home like dating teenagers. 

Aug 8, 2011

What are you hiding?

Oh boy, so I just finished Week 7 Day 1 of Couch to 5k training (a 25 minute run) out in the heat, and I'm feeling like running off at the fingertips. I have my first 5k of the year coming up in 5 days (why haven't I mentioned this here? go figure), and I totally don't feel ready.

I mean, I could walk 3.1 miles, and I can jog at least half of that distance, but the back of my mind keeps mentioning that last year at this time I ran/walked this particular 5k in my best time ever: 34:57. There is pretty much zero chance that I will do better than that this time, and that bothers me. Plus, last year this race was full of uber athletes, and I came in nearly dead last.

But I digress... from the fingertip diarrhea that I had intended for this post.

So anyway, I've been thinking a lot lately about hiding in fat. I guess different people hide in different things, and maybe some people don't feel the need to hide (even subconsciously?) at all, but many of us do. Maybe some people hide in makeup, or fancy clothes, or behind a mask of smiles. But many of us, it seems, use our fat as a blanket around something (something physical? something emotional?) that we don't want others to see. When talking about this recently, the question was posed to me: "What were you hiding from then?" I hadn't really thought about that.

Truth is, I really don't know. I always assume, when thinking about other people, that maybe they're hiding from some horribly traumatic event from their past, like maybe they were molested. Maybe they were continually verbally abused by a parent... and I am nearly 100% certain that nothing like that ever happened to me. I mean, other than being verbally accused by classmates in junior high of being "a lesbo," ...repeatedly, and incessantly... other than that, I can't think of anything. Could that have been it? I don't know. I thought I was really tough back then, and even before that I'd already started building up my wall of chub between me and the world.

But I feel like there has to be something. I think about what was going through my mind those years that I kept turning off the "stop eating" signal in my brain. Turning off the "get up off the couch and do something" signal. And encouraging the thought: "Fuck it, I'm happy. So what, I'm fat and I'm happy, and I LOVE eating cookies."

Putting the "lesbo" torture aside, and thinking about what was going through my head in the years leading up to making a decision to change things, I think what I must have been feeling was just an apathy resulting from the idea that I couldn't be perfect, so why try? And if my problem was "I can't be perfect so why try," then is it now improved?

Yes, it is improved. It is not gone, however. In fact, the reason I recognize it so readily now is because I still have the thoughts "I'm not perfect" and "I must be perfect" all the time. The difference between then and now is that I can often (but not always) tell myself "I can't be perfect," and I can tell myself that's okay. I can miss a workout, or eat too much pizza... I can drink too many full-calorie Yuenglings, and I can spend an entire day not doing much of anything. I am not perfect... at all. But that is no excuse not to try. I guess that's the difference.

If you're having trouble taking the time to do something for your own health... or having trouble deciding to do something about your sadness... maybe you can get down to the nitty gritty, and figure out what are you hiding? What are you hiding from? And is it really worth it to hide? Is it benefiting you in any way?

I found it was easier for me to act first, examine later. I started eating healthier, started exercising. If you start doing those things, you might find that you can live off of the adrenaline of the results for quite some time, but you will still come to the time when you have to ask yourself these questions. If you can't make yourself get started though... maybe ask the questions now. Find out the answer. Know it, own it, and move on with your life.

Jul 19, 2011

The very best "Real Exercise"

Over the last few months, I've been thinking about the concept of exercise for the sake of exercise. For me, this includes going to the gym, getting up early to walk and/or run, doing counter push-ups and squats while working, stuff like that. This exercise is really anything that we do not because it's necessarily fun, and not because it helps us accomplish something that I had to do anyway, but just because we need exercise.

So, in contrast to this "exercise for the sake of exercise," there is also what I call "Real Exercise." This is any exercise that you get because you're doing something that either needed to be done, because it is fun to do, ot just because it is part of your everyday life. For me, this includes mowing the grass, hiking up a mountain at work (if you are lucky like me and have this kind of thing as one of your duties), digging a ditch at work, biking to the store to get flour, playing volleyball at a church picnic... and I discovered the most awesome and rewarding "Real Exercise" yesterday: playing chase with my kids.

Last night when I was outside pushing the kids on swings in my mother-in-law's pristine back yard, Tayan and Zene asked me to play "jail." We ended up running around that yard like children while memories came flooding into my mind of playing chase with the neighborhood kids 25 years ago. I remembered bossing other kids around, explaining the rules of Hide & Seek and Freeze Tag... showing off how I knew how to use the term "Ready or not, here I come!" It was amazing, and not only was I as close as humanly possible to living  through my 7-year-old body, but I was also getting some amazing cardio.

When I'm running for exercise, I never get the feeling that there's a giggling, tickling policeman behind me who might catch me and take me to fake jail. Because of this, when I'm running for exercise, I never really attempt to run as fast as I possibly can, never digging my toes into the soft grassy ground and lifting my knees like a sprinter just out of the block... but last night, I was doing just that. Never when I'm running for exercise have I gotten to the point where I was trying so hard to move quickly forward, and my legs have become so exhausted, that I nearly fell on my face while trying to speed up--last night, that happened. Because I am not a 7-year old, we had to have 3 separate sessions of playing chase with hefty breaks in between. But three separate times last night, I became sweaty, exhausted, and overjoyed at exercising and playing hard with my kids. All three of us were elated.

The most important thing I got out of last night's running session with my kids was not the sore quads that I most certainly do have today. The most important thing I got out of it was a sense that "this is what it has all been for." This is what I lost 65 pounds to be able to do. I can play with my kids, not just a little bit... not just enough to push them in their swings, but I can actually play with them, on their level. It is the most amazing feeling, and I never want to lose it. As they grow, their tastes in exercise will change... they will become more interested in the things that I also like... maybe running, definitely biking and playing sports. For now though, we can run around the yard on a hot humid summer night, laughing and falling down together. It is no doubt the very best kind of "Real Exercise" that I can do.

Jul 5, 2011

Mahatma Gandhi was a wise man

Not sure if you knew this or not, but Gandhi was a really wise man.  I love so much of what he has said, and I really need to read more of his work. The quote of his that has become my mantra is "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." The quote says so much that speaks to me. It begins with "You must..." I love that it is a command. I'm a person who loves to take commands from people whom I respect. If I believe in you and you lead, I will follow. Also, the quote is so simple: everyone knows what they wish was different in the world--so be that. Be it, and be an example for others to be it, too. 

This morning I was reading The Positivity Blog post entitled Gandhi's Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World, and Gandhi's quote that really grabbed me was: 

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

This is so simple, yet I for one never would have thought of it. "Happiness is..." Whatever follows that is a bold statement, because pretty much our whole adult lives we're trying to find happiness, trying to sustain it for longer than a few minutes or hours at a time. Of course, I'm certain that Gandhi's quote isn't the whole truth of happiness--but it is a great observation of happiness.

One morning last week I was clearly unhappy. Even 3 year old Zene asked me 20 minutes into our day what was wrong with me. I gave him a curt answer and he ran crying to his room. Poor kid. I knew even then that the reason I was unhappy that morning is because I woke up early, I knew I should get up and go walk or run or bike... and I continued to just lie there. Not because I was tired, just because I didn't get up. What I was thinking and what I was doing weren't in harmony. 

Today I woke up with my alarm. I was wide awake, and I got that feeling that I really needed to go. I heeded my thoughts, and took Lupin for a lovely brisk walk on this muggy July morning. We wore ourselves out. And the proof of Gandhi's words is in this pudding: I've felt great all morning! 

So keep in mind Gandhi's wisdom. Maybe his quote isn't the most complete definition of what "Happiness is...", but it can more certainly be said that your thoughts, words, and actions must be in harmony in order to approach happiness. 

Jun 22, 2011

When you know you've screwed up

Some days you just know you've screwed something up.

Maybe it happens like this: you don't mean to, but you skip breakfast. Maybe you got too busy too quickly--or you didn't have any food you wanted to eat--or you had a big cup of coffee and it got you through your morning on only 35 calories of sweetener. For whatever reason, you are ravenous by 11AM, and you end up making a crap decision for lunch. You go to a buffet. You finish the first plate of food, and you think "geez, I didn't eat anything all morning, and I could still eat..." So you get another plate of food. Back in the day, this might have been business as usual, but since your body is used to eating just about the amount of food you actually need, when it gets too much you end up feeling like CRAP.

Now it's afternoon, your belly is bulging over your new skinny jeans, and you couldn't go for a run if a dog was biting you on the ass. You feel like a lump. In a desk chair. And you're falling asleep. Somewhere your day went terribly wrong, and you don't know where to go from here.

Well, this pretty much describes my day today, and I'm not proud of it. But I came here to write about it anyway--that was one of the choices I made in moving on with the rest of my day. Where do I go from here? Well, what can I do but move on. My decisions on this one day do not define me. I am defined by the decisions that I continue to make for the rest of my life.

I'm not even thinking about whether I'm going to "salvage" my day, or even "write off" my day, because this day is part of my life, just like every day is. I will make better decisions later today, and also tomorrow, and in the end the good decisions I made will outweigh the poor ones, and I will have had a great life. I believe this is all any of us can do.

Jun 17, 2011

"Please remind me that I like to have fun."

After a particularly fun evening the other night for my sister Sara's birthday, my brother-in-law CC said to us, in regards to next time we ask him to do something he might decide not to: "Hey guys, please remind me that I like to have fun." I love that he said that, and it reminds me so much of the way I feel about exercising.

Exercise is FUN. It's fun while you're doing it, and it's really fun when it's finished. When you're exercising, your heart is pumping, your body is moving, and you just feel physically and emotionally engaged. When it's done, you have a feeling of euphoria that can keep you pumped with energy and enthusiasm literally all day. In addition, you have a sense of "I did something good for myself today," which makes you feel like giving yourself a high five.

Exercise is NOT fun, however, before you do it. The idea of it is just off-putting. I have tried and tried to figure out why this is, because a good physical workout clearly triggers the pleasure-sensing parts of the brain, releases endorphins, and does all those things that are supposed to keep us wanting to do things... so why is it that looking forward to exercise just isn't fun?

Well, that I don't know. But what I do know is that we need to make ourselves remember that exercise is fun... that it's worthwhile, our bodies will thank us, and we'll actually feel MORE energized when it's done.

So, please remind me that I like to do exercise. Please remind me that I like to have fun. I'll remind you, too.

Jun 7, 2011

Make an Unusual Choice

Something’s been bothering me about my blog of late…it’s all about me. You guys probably noticed this a long time ago, but it has just dawned on me recently. As Eddie Izzard would say “God save the Queen? That is one saved fucking queen…” I am a saved queen myself. Although I have ups and downs (like anyone), I have done a pretty good job of keeping this 65 pounds off for some time now, and I don’t really need to be writing a blog that’s all about my own trials and tribulations.

So I want this blog to have a new direction: towards you! I want to use what little knowledge I’ve acquired to help you readers out there, to help you make changes in your own lives, and to love life a little more (and this change has been reflected in my new profile blurb on the right).

Of course, let’s be honest: there will still be plenty of whining and self-talk here, but now the whining and self-talk will be more geared to helping you. If you think that doesn’t sound like much of a change, you’re probably right.
But I’m going to do my best.

So, here’s my first attempt.

Make an Unusual Choice

I was out walking through the woods today (with a 70% chance of intermittent jogging), and I was thinking. To choose to change clothes at lunchtime, get my iPod loaded up, lace up my shoes, and go outside today was an unusual choice for me. I haven’t made that choice for even one day in the last month, but today I did. I can’t say for sure what made me make that choice, but I know telling several people I was going to do it made a big difference.

Life is just a series of choices. I’m pretty sure that’s a famous quote by someone. We make choices all day long, and they all lead to other choices. One day you make a choice that you later regret (like having 3 beers on a weeknight, for example, or eating half of an entire pizza). The next day, with that choice to go on, you make another choice that you end up regretting.

I have a suggestion: make an unusual choice! Do something you wouldn’t normally do. And if you want to change your life, make a lot of choices in a row that you wouldn’t normally make. My whole healthy journey started like this one day back in August 2009. I was so screwed up at that time, didn’t know how to make myself obedient to my own wishes… I decided that all I could do was make new choices. Here are a few that I remember making in that first 24 hours:

  • Chose to go to the grocery store at lunchtime, to buy healthy food to stock my office with, rather than going to McDonald’s.

  • Chose to go to a Pampered Chef party on a week night, leaving Bryan and the kids to fend for themselves for a few hours – this doesn’t sound like a healthy choice? Well, it taught me to practice taking time for myself when I need it.

  • Chose to accept an invitation to go to a garden and reap a lot of free veggies instead of stay home in the a/c and play a video game.

  • Chose to take a walk with my dog.

This is a challenge for you, Dear Reader! Go out today, make an unusual choice, and come back here and let me know how it made you feel. Do it just once, and see if it doesn’t lead to you wanting to do it again. 

Jun 2, 2011

A year between two avatar pics

I took a new avatar picture the other day, and when I went to save it I realized that I’d taken an avatar pic almost exactly a year previous. I have one named 052611, and another 052510. I decided to open up that older picture and see how I’ve changed.

Here’s the 2010 picture…

And the 2011 one…

They’re both taken in the same office, with the same WVU banner in the background… but a very different person is looking out at me.

First of all, I have new hair. My old hair was long and always pony-tailed. It’s short now though, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I love having short hair, and instead of being the same every single day, my hair pretty much reflects the way I’m feeling on any given day. I love that about it.

My glasses are also different, but only slightly. They’re almost exactly the same shape as before, but now I wear purple glasses; and when I’m not wearing those, I wear bright, multi-colored ones. I think this says that my old tastes are the same, but they’ve become brighter.

I’m showing my teeth in the new picture, and in the old one I wanted to appear… thoughtful, I think. I don’t care now though; I just smile my flat smile with those orthodontist-corrected teeth for the world to see.

My face appears almost exactly the same. I’ve lost only a little bit of weight between last year and this year, and my face has pretty much stabilized. It’s not the potato head it once was. When I look back at the potato head pictures of my past, I love but also feel a little bit sorry for that old, fatter me, but I’ve totally embraced this new me. This is the face I will grow old with.

But  most importantly, and probably most noticeably (other than the hair), I look more free. The lighting doesn’t hurt… but I think the lighting actually tells part of the story. I’m not hiding at all. In the first picture it looks like I’m in a cave getting my body “ready” to show the world. In the new picture, I’ve shown it—and the world is pretty much indifferent, just as they should be. My body and my face are mine; I’m the one that cares so much about them. I feel now like it doesn’t matter what other people think. I’m not putting on a show for them. I’m living my life, and I’m damn proud of who I am: the part of me that has always been, and also the part of me that is brand new. 

May 26, 2011

Thinkin' about buyin' Larabars

I love bars. It started back with Nature Valley bars, which I still love, but don't often buy anymore. They are a little high in sugar for me, a little low in fiber. I also eat 90 calorie Quaker bars sometimes--I usually buy them for the husband and kids, but sometimes I'll have one if that's all we've got. They're tasty. I like Fiber One bars too, because sometimes a mama just needs a butt-ton of fiber--literally. After being spurred on by a Phish song, however, I decided to jump into the world of Clif bars.

I seriously used to think that Clif bars were "too fitnessy" for me, particularly because of the dude hanging from a mountain on the package. I could never do that, so I figured I would never "deserve" a Clif bar. Well, I got over that, and they are delicious. A little high in calories for me (because as I said, I do not hang off of cliffs for a living), so I then tried the Kids version of Clif bars (the ZBar). They're also delicious, and smaller with less calories.

Then came the Luna bar, which is made specifically for women. I thought that notion was silly, and my first step after trying them was to give one to Bryan, so that I could say "That's delicious, right? Doesn't taste like it's only for women..." He agreed. We buy them all the time now. My favorites are Chocolate Peppermint Stick and Cookies 'n Cream Delight. I like the amount of calories, which is within 10 calories of 180 for all of them, I believe. I like that they have a decent amount of fiber, and not too too much sugar.

So, when an online blogger whom I love (Roni Noone) suggested Larabars, my love of bars led me straight to the Healthy Bar isle at the grocery store to check them out. I grabbed the first one I saw, and was dismayed to see that it contained 240 calories. I don't like to use over 200 calories on a "bar," because I don't like to use them as a total meal replacement. I like to have a bar as a mid-morning snack (if I've had a tiny lunch), an afternoon snack, or sometimes as a way to get through a long car ride. 240 just seemed like too much for me. I've heard great things about Larabars though, so I decided to look more closely at their numbers:

Bar Name






Larabar Apple Pie






Larabar Banana Bread






Larabar Blueberry Muffin






Larabar Carrot Cake






Average of Larabar






Luna Berry Almond






Luna Blueberry Bliss






Luna Caramel Nut Brownie






Luna Chocolate Chunk






Average of Luna






I picked the first 4 bars on each respective website (they were in alphabetical order) to compare. While I'm sorry to say I have yet to try a Larabar, I see in this table exactly why I will probably continue to prefer Luna bars. Basically, Luna bars have less calories, as I already mentioned. They also provide about twice the protein of Larabars, and half the fat. While Larabars provide a little more fiber than Luna, they consistently contain more sugar. 

In conclusion, I will try a Larabar, if only because after all this effort I have to at least see how they taste. I'm sure they are delicious. I'm also pretty sure they're a pretty hip company, since they helped sponsor Roni's Fitbloggin conference last weekend. Luna, on the other hand, is ultimately made by Nestle, who is a huge conglomerate that has cornered the market on many types of food, and has bought out more small food companies than I could count. I'm not totally against that in itself, because I would hope that the smaller companies sold for a good deal. So, I will try Lara... but the Chocolate Peppermint Stick Luna Bar in my drawer is calling my name right now. And at around 3 o'clock this afternoon, it will have my full attention. 

May 11, 2011

I'm practically a Master!

Three years ago I started an endeavor to get a master's degree. At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to get, or what school to get it from. I considered taking night classes locally... then I found out that WVU has a totally online Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree through their Health Sciences School of Community Medicine. I thought that sounded pretty sweet, because I was sortof doing public health already with my work with E. coli and water quality. I studied and took the GRE, applied to WVU, and the rest has all fallen into place.

I did well in my classes, I got a few classes for free as a sort of scholarship, and I was invited to be a student representative on the MPH Board. Throughout the first year of taking classes, I was still at my highest weight. At some point though I realized that I couldn't keep living in a way that is in such contrast with what I was learning. I was taking "Worksite Wellness," learning how to develop a program to keep people healthy at work, and I was like 100 pounds overweight.

Being in the MPH program was one of the factors that helped me decided to start living a healthier lifestyle. I've lost 65 pounds since then, and have run in six 5ks. I've changed forever the way that I think about food, and although I still indulge when I really want to, I always remember that everything counts, food is fuel, and exercise feels GOOD.

After a very long, arduous semester, I am walking across a stage and receiving my Masters of Public Health degree on Sunday. My whole family (other than Beth and Andrew) will be there, we are going to party it up, and my kids will get to see me dress in a really weird costume and shake somebody's hand as I take a roll of parchment from them. They don't really understand what I've done, but they will know that it's important. They'll be proud of me someday.

The only thing left is to figure out how to delicately tell everyone at work and among my friends to call me Master Cooper from now on. Bryan and the kids can just call me Master. Yeah. It has a nice ring to it.

May 5, 2011

I need to move more!

I was reading a new post of Roni's this morning, and decided I need to post my response here at my own blog as well. The post was called How can we up our daily activity? She's talking about things that we can do that to just move more, whether it's purposeful exercise, or just burning an extra few calories here and there throughout our days.

Here's what I can do to move more:

  • Walk to CVS when we need the "just one item" kinda thing. 
  • Walk to the gas station to fill up  my gas can before mowing. 
  • Mow regularly (push mower, and very steep back yard). 
  • Bike to the grocery store when I have 40 minutes to spare, and we only need a few things.

Here's what I already do:

  • Park far away when I'm shopping by myself (need to up this to every time, no matter who's with me). 
  • Counter push-ups and squats while making bacterial media at work. 
  • Volunteer for all outside field work at work, and encourage us to walk to the top of the mountain to get that sample instead of drive. 
  • Get up early to either walk w/my sister, run by myself, or do Wii Yoga, strength training, or cardio (but I need to do this every day). 

So, that's what I'm going to do. Keep doing what I'm doing, and add some more "move mores" to my day. 

Oh, and by the way, I totally finished my Masters of Public Health degree yesterday by presenting my poster for the faculty and visitors who came by to see it. The whole day was just awesome, and I had so much support from my family and friends. Great day. I'll talk more about it later, I'm sure. 

Apr 22, 2011

Why I should go to Fitbloggin '11

Roni announced that Attune Foods is giving away a ticket to her conference, Fitbloggin '11, which I've so wanted to go to. I wrote the following this morning to make my case for a free Fitbloggin '11 ticket +$500 hotel and gas money. I hope I win! I'll find out next Friday. 

Why I should go to Fitbloggin '11

One beautiful July day in 2009, I decided I was going to change the way I live. I was over 250 pounds, I felt miserable, and I was afraid I would end up being a mother with diabetes who takes her kids to soccer practice so that they won’t turn into the same thing someday, but is actually teaching them by example to be hopelessly lost in food and apathy.

I didn’t want that. I had a vision for myself that had been developing in my mind for a long time… a vision of a thinner, energetic mom who plays just as hard as the kids, who beats them at races until they become teenagers and beat her back… a mom who grows into a grandmother who stays in shape, loves to eat healthy food, and wouldn’t go a day without a bike ride or a nice swim.

I knew that person was in me somewhere, but I didn’t know how to find her. I decided that day in July that I had to start somewhere—that I just wasn’t going to put crappy stuff into my body anymore. I knew right away I would need someone who could provide a great example for me, someone who knew how to straight-talk to people, someone who wasn’t a “professional.”

After opening iTunes and searching for “weightloss podcast,” I found Roni. I was in love with her way of thinking from the get-go. The first thing she taught me was that a “diet” is not a method of restricted eating; a “diet” is what you eat. That was an aha moment for me. I started listening to her podcast, reading her blogs, cooking her food, and the rest is history. I have lost over 60 pounds with Roni in my ear.

Last year I started my own blog, and I’ve realized that I really do love to write. I think I have a knack for it. I would love for more people to read what I have to say, because I have a lot to share, and I always tell it like it is. I would love to be able to go to Fitbloggin ’11 to meet other people like me, to participate in a 5k with them, to share with them, and to learn what successful fit bloggers have to teach. I thrive in environments like these: I love asking questions, provoking thoughts, and generally being engaged in the learning process.

I’m finishing up a masters in Public Health this month. I’ve been so busy with completing my degree that I haven’t been able to think much about Fitbloggin’, let alone plan how I would pay for such a trip. Fortunately, the conference takes place a week after my graduation, so I will finally be free by then. Unfortunately, I just can’t free up the cash to go.

So, soon I will be a Master of Public Health. I have taken classes in Worksite Wellness and Health Behavior. I’ve gone through my own journey of losing 60 pounds and keeping it off for a year now. I have a blog, but I don’t have the skills to share it with the people who may like to be reading it. All of these are great reasons to go to Fitbloggin‘ 11, but perhaps the one I most look forward to is giving Roni a hug, and telling her “thanks” in person. 

Apr 21, 2011

I'll Be Back Soon!

What a crazy hectic week it's been, and it's felt so loooong, too. I'm just ready for Friday, but Friday unfortunately doesn't end my busy-ness, .

I'm sure I've mentioned it here before, but I'm finishing up my Masters of Public Health degree this semester. It's taken me 3 years, and it hasn't been that easy. The program is all online through West Virginia University, and all in all I've worked pretty hard on it. Sure, there were days (weeks?) where I didn't do much of squat on anything, but other weeks were totally consumed with projects, papers, forum-postings, exams, finals, studying, writing, researching... egad, it goes on and on. This semester I've been pretty much consumed all of the time, but never as much as these past two weeks.

I've gotten a lot done in the last few weeks. I've turned in the final version of my 28-page monstrosity of a paper, started on and completed the accompanying poster for presenting the information, written the toughest parts of my grant (for grant-writing class), and have started working on the presentation to go with the poster. Not to mention, the Work work we've had lately. We're getting like 5 sets of 24 water samples per week now, and running them involves a lot of filtering, media preparation, washing dishes, rinsing dishes, autoclaving dishes... and going to the field to pick up the samples. And at home I mowed the grass and folded laundry last night.

See, I feel like I need to write these things down somewhere, because I've found that as I constantly strive for perfection (which I know I shouldn't do), the milestones are reversed in perspective. When they're far away, they seem enormous, insurmountable. As they approach, they look smaller. By the time you pass them, they seem insignificant, meaningless. You find yourself saying "Next Milestone Please!" as you sprint by. It's a crazy way to live, and I hope to lay some of this gusto down for awhile, chill and read fiction books and take it easy. Go to work 40 hours per week, come home and have every minute of my evening and weekend for me and the family.

But that's where I've been. I miss writing in this blog. As I shut down everything this afternoon, I realized I had 40 more minutes to go, and I thought "What should I do with all this free time? Wow, could I actually write a blog post? Sure!" So here I am to tell you (my one to two readers), I will be back soon.

Mar 28, 2011

A Weekend of Good Decisions

This weekend we met the family for a weekend excursion to a cabin at Oglebay. We get a cabin there about twice a year, and have ever since I was a little kid. The place holds great memories for all of us, and we relish our chances to meet up there.

I had asked my sisters and mom last week if they wanted to do a Girls Free Spa Morning while we were there, which pretty much meant going to the indoor pool / hot tub / sauna / fitness center very early in the morning, before husbands and kids would know or care that we had gone. My youngest sister Annie and I decided on 7am as the official time, and I figured I’d be lucky if even she alone accompanied me, let alone my two other sisters and Mom.

Friday night we were up soo late, and even had trouble sleeping once we went to bed. With kids asleep on an air mattress at our feet, Bryan, me, Annie, and her husband Paul talked till after 2am like kids at a sleepover. It was so fun, but I knew my 6:30 alarm would come early! I slept restlessly, pretty much waiting for the alarm to go off, and finally it did.

Annie and I got up wordlessly, grabbed our stuff and exited the room in the dark. I got dressed, left the bathroom, and was pretty surprised to see that my sister Sara and even my mom were up too! Only Beth decided sleep was too pressing an engagement, and who could blame her.

It was cold and dark, so we decided to drive up to the lodge to get our spa on. When we got there, Sara really wanted to use the gym, but it was practically full of people. One elliptical trainer opened up, however, and I coaxed her into trying it while I did some weights. She did it, and it was her first time ever on one! I was so proud of her. Didn’t tell her that I probably wouldn’t have had the ovaries to do it the first time with other exercisers all around.

After the gym, we all ended up in the pool, then the sauna, and the hot tub. Went back to the gym with Annie while Sara and Mom showered up. It was great. I was so happy we all did that together.

Bryan and I drove home late Saturday night, and it was a lovely drive. Dark, empty roads, kids worn out asleep in the back… and we had all day yesterday to chill and get ready for our week. Made an awesome pot of chili for dinner, and we’re set up to have chicken Caesar salads tonight… with homemade croutons!

This morning was awesome, because Sara and I decided to initiate a new 3-day-a-week ritual of meeting early in the morning to walk our dogs together. We walked about 2 miles, and it was great. A great start to what will be a very healthy and rewarding Summer of Exercise.  

Mar 25, 2011

The Things People Say

People say some strange things to other people who are losing weight. I have learned that we all have our own way of dealing with others changing around us, and most commenters genuinely mean well. And while no remark is "wrong," per se, some do come off nicer than others. Some just don't make much sense at all. Here are a few of my favorites:

First, my true favorite: anything along the lines of "You're looking good!" That's a great thing to say to anyone, whether they've lost weight or not. This comment just makes you feel great about yourself. I wholly endorse saying this to anyone who strikes you this way, because they will almost certainly be appreciative. 

Some comments leave very little room for response, like "Look at you, Skinny Minny!" Okay… well should I say "Thank you" or maybe "Look at me, indeed!" Again, I know everybody has their own way, but this one tends to seem more accusatory than anything else. I know that I'm a lot smaller than I used to be, but there truly are people out there who would warrant the "Skinny Minny" handle, and I am not one of them. Incidentally, anyone who would be in that category probably has self-image issues of their own, and wouldn't like it any more than a two-year-ago version of myself would've liked being called "Fatty Mattie." 

Another one that comes out slightly accusatory is "What size is that shirt?!" If my shirt was a size Double X instead of Medium, would it be okay to ask me this question? 

Some are meant as a joke, but when taken literally make no sense at all. Here is an example: "You keep up with your diet, and you're gonna disappear!" Another one similar to this is "You're wasting away!" Right. I'm wearing size 16 jeans, and they are not too big for me. Sixteen is not an arbitrary number, by the way; they actually make size 0 jeans. Even though I am currently very happy with my weight, and plan to lose only a little more, my BMI says that I am still technically "obese." I'm not in danger of disappearing. But you're right; if I kept up this 3.15 lb/month weightloss for 4.94 years, I would indeed poof out of existence. 

My seriously all-time favorite comment ever came from a scientist at work, which I mention only because special accommodations must be made for their systematic thinking coupled with and tendency to be socially inept. We were walking out of the office together that day, and the scientist said "Have you intended to be losing weight?" I couldn't help it, it struck me so funny I laughed right out loud. I replied that yes, indeed I had been trying. I further said that I understood the concern, because if I had been losing weight due to having cancer, for instance, it wouldn't be very nice to compliment me for it. It reminded me of Mitch Hedburg saying not to wave at people, because "What if they don't have a hand?" 

When it comes down to it, losing weight is an adjustment for everyone, not just the person who's losing it. I'm not only a brand new person for me to get used to, but for everyone else as well. When things change, people comment on the change. I take them all as compliments, no matter what the words that come out actually are. 

Mar 4, 2011

Comparing the Paleolithic Diet to My Diet

My family has been emailing back and forth about the Paleolithic Diet, and I thought I'd write a post about what I think of this concept, and about eating a healthy diet in general. 

So, the Paleo Diet is basically a low carb diet... looks like they don't want you to eat many grains (if any), and no sugar or salt. Pretty much a whole foods diet, minus grains. That's cool if that's what somebody wants to do, but there's nothing inherently wrong with eating grains. Paleolithic people didn't eat them only because they didn't know how to grow them in large enough quantities to sustain life. They didn't have agriculture. They saw grains as "starvation food" because they were thinking of them as tiny things you would pick off individually from a plant and pluck into your mouth, and you'd spend more calories picking them than you'd get out of them. 

I think the best thing you can do with your "diet" (meaning 'the stuff that you eat,' not 'the limitations that you put on what you eat in order to lose weight') is to eat a variety of whole foods. When you go to the produce section, find something you've never tried before--vegetables and fruits--and try them. Find out what people make with them, or come up with your own recipes. Make it a point to try every fruit and vegetable you can. For instance, check out this video of Roni and Ryan trying pummelos for the first time.
(this video is from Roni's Greenlightbites.com
Basically, shop "around the outside of the store," as they say. Veggies, fruits, grains, meats, yogurt, etc. When you go into the aisles of the store, stay away from things that come in a box, but buy lots of cans of beans (or dry beans), and varieties of frozen vegetables.

And when it comes to avoiding the stuff that you know isn't good for you--cookies, cakes, ice cream, chips, pop, etc... do it all with moderation. Treat those things as what they are: treats. If you're very hungry, don't grab cookies first, because you'll eat 10 of them. Have a cookie when you're only a little bit hungry. And check labels. Every calorie counts, and some things that you love have fewer calories than other things that you only kindof love. My favorite new dessert is Edy's Fruit Bars (the little ones). They are pure frozen fruit on a stick, and 45 calories each. 

I have a thing for homemade food though, because I know that it's special. We get together with family, we make food, and it's communal. It's a bonding experience, and it matters. And it's DAMN good food! Last night I ate way too much food at Tayan's birthday celebration. Just don't let meals like that get you down. They don't make or break you, and they don't have to affect future decisions. This morning I had 6 oz plain nonfat yogurt with 3oz grapes in it for breakfast, and it was damn delicious too. 

One problem that we have that Peleolithic People didn't have is that our lives are so easy here in the U.S. that we don't have to physically work to attain food. We have cars that drive us to food, and money that buys more calories than we could ever need... yet our paleolithic brains still tell us that if we can rest, we should rest. Our brain thinks that we'll need that energy later to outrun a bear, or to run down a bear for food this winter, but that doesn't happen anymore. The bottom line is, we have to move our bodies to be healthy, and our brains are telling us to stay put. When it comes time to go take a walk, or a run, or get on your bike, or do some yoga, and you don't feel like it... you just have to turn your brain off for 10 minutes, and let your body do the walking. Once you get into the exercise, turn your brain back on and it will say "Oh yeah, this is fun! We like this!" 

Mar 2, 2011

5 Things I Would Tell Myself

Roni posted a question on her blog that she was revisiting from years ago. The question was "What 5 things would you tell yourself if you could go back in time?" She chose to go back to her 1991 self (when she was 15 years old), and she told herself these 5 things:

What do I tell myself?
  • Stop being so preoccupied with your body. You are young, fit, active and beautiful (that was really hard for me to type) Love who YOU are and stop comparing yourself to others, it’s not worth it, life is too short.
  • Wear clothes that FIT YOU!! I know you don’t believe it but baggy is not better and it makes you look much bigger then you are.
  • Stick to the salads at McDonald’s! (I worked at MickeyD’s for 5 years and ate WAY to many quarter pounders on my lunch breaks)
  • HAVE FUN! Life is too short to miss out on things because you are worried what you look like. Throw that bathing suit on, get in the ocean and SWIM! Enjoy it now before you are running after a 2 year old on the beach
  • Don’t wait until your junior year of college to take a computer class. Get into it early, you have a knack and one day you’ll make a career out of making web sites. Oh! you don’t know what a web site is, don’t worry you will soon enough. :~
And she later added this one:

  • Your body is capable of AMAZING things. One day you will have children and realize this. In the mean time treat it and yourself with kindness. Embrace who you are and don’t be ashamed of ANYTHING. Confidence is a hard thing to master. Start now.

She also asked her readers to answer the question for themselves. In thinking about this, I decided I wouldn't go back to my high school self. For one, High School Me was too young to listen--too much a teenager. Also, I was feeling pretty good in high school. My body had grown up into a beautiful young lady, and I knew it. A lot of the time in high school, I was "feelin' my freedom," as John Prine would say

In college though, I could have used some good advice. I was also "feelin' my freedom" then, but it was more in the glamor of cases of Natty Light with friends, and the freedom of spending all of your financial aid on trips to Applebee's and the Texas Roadhouse. It was the apathy of having things like 2 chili cheese dogs with a side of cheese and chili-covered fries for dinner, drinking all night, then trying to think in class the next morning.

My major in college was Environmental Protection, and it was filled with people who went hiking, canoeing, and rock climbing on the weekends. Instead of feeling like I could do those things too, I was the fat girl who could barely make it back up the mountain on our class arboretum trip. 

So anyway, if I could go back to my 1998 self--when I was 20 years old--I would tell myself the following 5 things:

  1. Start doing something by yourself every day--something that is fun and for your own health. Make it a habit. You will LOVE it. Bryan will understand.
  2.  Treat every day like the amazing gift from God that it is. Listen to Morning has Broken and Dare You to Move (when it comes out in 2 years), and live by these. 
  3. Learn about calories in vs. calories out. Every cookie/beer/late night meal from Hardees does count. There are no freebies.
  4. Re-take that Analytical Chemistry class. There was no need for you to ditch the final exam and fail the class. You will regret it if you don't. 
  5. Sara will be okay. Stick with her as best you can through her hard times. It will all turn out alright, but she needs your help.