Monday, November 30, 2009

Bummed out

Man this morning I am struggling. Fortunately, I have an appointment with a new, highly recommended chiropractor. I am hoping he can help me because this entire weekend sucked. Actually, that is not true, as I got to spend some time with a friend working on a puzzle and I went to the Nutcracker. However, I am so over not being able to do stuff and having this back/hip crap compromise the way I live. Last night I woke up over and over. The night before I had a dream that a snake bit me on the hip causing excruciating pain (probably a weird way for my psyche to explain why that area hurts like none other). I am really discouraged.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A (sorely needed) Victory!

Yesterday I was bummed out and decided I needed to get out of the house. The doctor says it is good/important to walk so, even though it hurts, I decided to do it. The good news is it didn't hurt as badly as I expected. I'm not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, but I am on the way which I have to say is great.

I decided to go shopping. I needed a pair of brown casual shoes (not dress shoes, but the kind you can wear with khakis that feel comfortable). I wear size 11 so finding shoes 1) period, that are size 11, 2) that are not tragically hideous, and 3) comfortable is not always easy. I think buying shoes online is dicey (paying return shipping if they don't fit, which can be expensive and is certainly annoying) and/or pricey (zappos = free return shipping but good luck finding a deal there!). I decided to go to TJ Maxx first.

Although I did not find the shoes I needed, I did find a cute outfit, $10 for the shirt, $17 for the pants. Score! I intend someday to do a post about clothes in general (being able to find clothes that fit, not being mortified to try things on in a dressing room, etc), but I will not do that this time. I will just relate this story to you.I started this whole get healthy thing at a size 26. It wasn't pretty. I am now to the point where I usually wear a size 20, which is obviously progress. When I went to TJ Maxx, I saw these pants that I thought were cute. Forutnately, they had a size 20. I decided to try them on, and I thought they might be too big. I went to ask the dressing room lady's opinion, and she suggested trying on one size smaller.

"Surely you jest," I thought in my head. "There is no way I will fit into an 18 yet!" Nonetheless, just for giggles, I thought I would try on the 18s. OMG! They fit! They actually look good! I was so excited, I took a picture right in the TJ Maxx dressing room. I thought they looked good, so I bought them.

It is interesting to note that this picture shows how misaligned I am if you look for it. I did not even notice it until after I took the photo, but WOW no wonder I am hurting! On the left of the photo you will see that my right foot is more forward than my left foot. That is because my hips are twisted. You will also notice that, on the left of the photo, my right hip is lower than the left one, yet my right shoulder is higher. Very bizarre. I am hoping that things start to work their way back into place soon. I am so over this misalignment crap, and the pain it brings.

However, let's go out on a happy note -- the note that brought me here -- I now fit into a size 18 pant! (Note I think this pair of pants is an anomaly as I recently tried on a pair of size 20 pants that was too tight. Although I was cursing the variation in sizes when the pants were too tight, I will take it now because this variation came out in my favor...)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Should I stay or should I go?

I have had plans since October for Thanksgiving: I was going to go to my friends' place in Missouri. This ongoing back/hip saga has jeopardized those plans. I honestly don't feel good at all, and don't want to be a Debbie Downer around others. I think I would likely snap out of that if I went, though. More to the point, though, I don't know if I can sit up and drive for 6 hrs with this hip stuff. I think it would hurt too much, and the trip would be 6 hrs each way.

If I stayed here, though, what would I do? I would probably be down and lonely. That's no good. I thought about what to do for food. I could cook for myself and I'd make delicious stuff, certainly...but then I would have way too much food, and wouldn't want to eat or throwaway the leftovers. I could go out to eat, but I a) can't find anywhere other than a janky Clariton in town with a Thanksgiving spread and b) would feel like a total loser by myself eating out on Thanksgiving.

I'm not sure what to do. I really want to go to Missouri, but I really don't want to drive there or be a downer. Maybe I should just take more Aleve and maybe another meloxicam and go. I am not sure what to do.

Where I have been...

First of all, I appologize for the lack of posting lately. Things have been busy and, well, I have fallen off the wagon somewhat and that is exactly when I should be posting. I have also been really discouraged.

As to the "Yay I can exercise!" and "Wow, I am so going to own this Thanksgiving!" posts? Yeah, not going so well. I woke up several times through the night on Sunday with excruciating hip pain that has lasted all week. It totally sucks. My eating this week has been good sometimes, but mediocre to poor most of the time.

Things really took a downward turn when I went to Sam's Club Friday night. I happened on an event called "Taste of Sam's" (a complete coincidence) which was a sample day on steroids -- they had SO much good stuff to try! My favorite thing they had was smoked cheddar cheese. Man it was delicious. I made a mistake and I bought some: 1.16 lbs of cheese. I ate it in two days. Man.

The next day was Saturday and, like I posted, I had to work. It was catered with Panera and I did ok, but the food was not healthy and there were no fruits or veggies. Diet for the day: Panera, lots of milk, cheese, crackers, and hummus. Not stellar, and sorely sorely lacking in fruits and veggies.

The next day I finished off the cheese and ate dinner with friends. Great to catch up with them, and we made delicious (and relatively healthy) gyros. Go us. Eating grade for that day was a solid B.

Monday I have no idea what happened but I was so munchy. Perhaps I was genuinely hungry, I don't know. Either way, the bottom line is I ate 4 cookies and 1 brownie over the course of the day (in addition to regular food). By the way, we're not talking about normally-sized cookies either, but rather the "we're catering and giving you a cookie that is the size of 2.5 cookies" variety. Not stellar. Lunch was catered for a faculty meeting, and in the evening I went out to eat and overdid it. A tiny victory there is that I did take about half of the dinner home because it was too big for me to eat at once.

Yesterday I did ok not great on the food horizon.

I have really hit a rough patch with the exercise. My doctor says I can and should exercise, but since the hip issues have resurfaced with a vengeance, I sometimes really cannot exercise. I took Saturday and Sunday off, partially because of laziness, partially because of legitimate busy-ness, and I do honestly think it is ok and that I don't need to exercise 7 days a week. That is a slippery slope to start down, though.

Monday I went to aqua abs and tried to go to a PiYo class (pilates/yoga fusion). The water stuff felt ok to good, especially the stretching parts. I only did half of the PiYo class. I did not do anything with intense twisting or anything that caused me extreme discomfort. I ultimately got frustrated and was hurting too badly so I quit halfway into the class. Yesterday, I did the elliptical machine for about 25 minutes and did about half of a cycling class before I quit. It hurt too bad (even though cycling is supposed to be good for my hips and back) so I left. I then was in bed for the rest of the day, laying down. Crap.

When I went to the doctor last week, she gave me a prescription for 15 mg Meloxicam. This is an anti-inflammatory drug and is supposed to help with the arthritis and back stuff. She suggested I take it on an as needed basis. As I have mentioned, I really despise taking medicine. I would much rather go the all-natural way and/or tough it out when possible. However, that is clearly not working in the case of my hip/back issues and so I have buckled and started taking the Meloxicam once a day for now. The first day it really helped, but yesterday it did not do much (or, if it did, I think I would have passed out without it...)

I am really frustrated with all of this. I think I am going to start physical therapy at the first of the year. I am nowhere near my insurance deductible for the year, and everything is out of pocket up until I meet the deductible -- so waiting it is. I have ordered a yoga video that is to stretch, align, and strengthen the hips. I am hopeful that will help in the meantime. If anyone else has other suggestions, please offer them. I will try most anything at this point.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


This morning I was above the goal. I forget the exact weight but it was around 255. Dang it.

Mine Field

Today is going to be a food minefield. Already I have cheese, hummus, crackers, and sparkling white grape juice -- and way too much of each. Today I have to go into work for an event to recruit high school students to the University. I am pissed that I have to do this, especially on Ohio State-Michigan game day! There will be tons of delicious cookies and good food there, and I must remain strong and not overdo it. Oy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't know what to do next!

As I mentioned this morning, I have made it to my goal. Well, kind of. I have made it to the number part of my goal, but the goal states that I will make it through Thanksgiving at this number. That obviously implies a lot of discipline, maintaining this weight through this glutton-fest that is Thanksgiving. I think I am up to the challenge. I am going to my friends' place in Missouri which will be great, but will mean that I will be away from the gym. I would like to incorporate walking into my trip up there, and will work hard on portion controls but probably will not say no to any of my normal Thanksgiving favorites.

This sudden and dramatic weight loss has me absolutely baffled. If you recall, a long time ago I had a goal to make it to 249.4 by September 21 ("50 by fall"). Obviously I didn't make that and have been hanging out in the mid 250s for quite awhile now. I decided it was time to saddle up the horses and get going on the weight loss thing and, voila, it just drops off. Bizzarre.

There are a couple hypotheses I have as to why the weight could be falling off so quickly.
  • It's like the initial weight loss all over again. When people start to lose weight, the first 5-10 pounds fall off so so quickly.
  • I started to exercise again after an almost 3 week time off of that. My body's metabolism could be really revved up.
  • I am eating a lot more fruits and somewhat more veggies than usual. Maybe something do with that?
  • It could just be a fluke (but I don't really think so -- 1-3 lbs can be a fluke; 5 lbs is starting to be "real" weight I think).
The weirdest part (to me) of this loss is that I have been making ok but not stellar choices. For example, let me talk about what I ate yesterday. For breakfast, I had 3/4ish cups of fat free cottage cheese with a ton of fruit salad on top (fresh pineapple, strawberries, blackberries, papaya). I also ate two oranges throughout the morning to keep me from being hungry. Like I mentioned yesterday, lunch yesterday was catered. Turns out it was catered by Qdoba -- delicious! Bad stuff first: I had some chips and cheese dip. Cheese and cheese dip definitely are definitely weaknesses for me. For the rest, I had a reasonable portion of rice, black beans, a little steak, some cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and a lot of corn relish and pico di guillo. Not too bad. For dinner, I went to Jimmy John's and got my usual (#5 Vito, no capicola, extra lettuce, tomatoes, onions with Skinny Chips). At night, I had a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes and also a pear. I would say that is a decent day of eating, but nothing stellar. Certainly nothing like 1200 calories. For exercise, I did my usual 1/2 hr of aqua abs and 1 hr of water aerobics. It was good. I would have expected to be at a calorie deficit but nothing extreme, and CERTAINLY not enough to justify a couple pounds.

Oh well. I will take it. I am ecstatic to be working toward my goal and am committed to doing this the natural and healthy way (i.e., eating "real" foods not shakes, eating a balanced diet, being able to find something to eat in what everyone else eats, etc). Plus, I love carbs way too much to ever do something like the Atkins diet!

I made it?

No time for a real post. I have to be to the gym by 7 so I just want to say I made it to 253.2 this morning, 0.2 lbs under my goal. Now don't get me wrong, I am very excited about this but also very confused and a little concerned. 5 lbs in 3 days?! More later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Challenge update.

Despite not having a stellar food day and not working out yesterday evening (worked out in the morning), I am down this morning to 255.8. This challenge is looking doable. A lot of that weight must have been faux-weight (water weight, etc?). I made a huge fruit salad yesterday which should make eating the right thing easier (it will be a quick, non-processed choice while it lasts). Today I have to eat out twice -- once for a lunch at work they are having catered, and also between water aerobics and going to see the Crucible tonight. Will work to make good choices, but at least for lunch this could present a challenge. We'll see.

Reason I didn't work out last night? My back/hip hurt. Crap.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oh yeah...

I am about to finish up my day here at work and I am so hungry! If I am not focusing on eating right (i.e., both in the types of food and the volume of food), I rarely get hungry. I just go through the motions and eat at the appropriate meal-ish times. Today my eating has been great (return of the daily food pics to come, perhaps), and OMG am I hungry. When I first got hungry I was like "Oh yeah, I haven't been eating out of hunger lately just out of habit." You should eat because you're hungry, not because you're just in the habit of doing so. I forget that sometimes (often?). Thanks to my hunger signal for reminding me...

5 lbs by November 30?

This morning I weighed in at 258.4, which is outside my control limits. Yesterday afternoon I felt like an absolute hiefer. I think I had gas or something that made me feel bloated, but I have definitely gained a bit of real weight in the last few weeks. My eating has been TERRIBLE and not exercising did not help either. Also yesterday the workout clothes I brought? A bit tight, and absolutely not a flattering shirt (even had a food stain on the boob -- lovely). Also had to don a swimsuit for the first time in awhile. It wasn't pretty.

ANYWAY...back on topic. I said I would like to emerge from Thanksgiving not just by staying even but with a loss. I will need to work out hard and watch what I eat in preparation for Thanksgiving. I am going to indulge on Thanksgiving and eat some delicious food, please understand. However, I am going to work to not let it turn into an all-out glutton fest, eating 5 lbs of mashed potatoes myself (seriously, I could do it).

So the number I'd like to be at? Something <=253.4 lbs. This number has been reached as a result of the following:
  1. It represents the lowest weight I've been on this journey. I think the first time it might have been a fluke though.
  2. I think 5 lbs in 2 weeks is doable given that I haven't been working on this in awhile. My body should let the weight go, especially with a sudden increase in activity level.
  3. Why not be ambitious?
So, I will keep you posted. Lately I have become a daily weigher, which I know is not what WW would recommend but I guess I am obsessive like that. I don't freak out too much when there is a big change -- it is mostly for informational purposes. I will keep you posted. I only half believe that I can actually do this, so encouragement is most certainly appreciated. Anyone else want to jump on this wagon with me now?

Great News - I can exercise again!

So the good news -- in case you're not friends with me on Facebook -- is that I can exercise. WOW! Who would have thought that that would be something to make me ecstatic. Back in the day I would DREAD the thought of exercising. Celebration would have been the last reaction I would have had to the ability to exercise. But now? I AM SO PUMPED!

I went to my new doctor and I really liked her. She seems to think that the degeneration in my back is not nearly as bad as the chiropractor thought, and that I should absolutely exercise to help get over this. She said that I would probably have back problems for the rest of my life (sorry folks, I'm not allowed to lift heavy boxes or help with moving), but that I could expect to have about 20 or so years relatively pain free other than the occasional flare up.

Last night I went to the aqua abs class I usually go to and it wasn't bad. It was the easier of the two teachers which probably worked out better for me in that I could ease into it. I also decided to get my elliptical on and did about 35 minutes there. The intensity varied from high hills with a lot of resistance to not much resistance at all. I really wanted to quit a couple times, but I soldiered on and it ended up feeling great. This time I will try to remember my headphones though, to make things more enjoyable :) Tonight I am going to try to do both the abs class and the aqua aerobics class...and maybe even some elliptical if I am feeling ambitious. If anything starts to hurt, though, I am going to take it easy. Don't want to aggravate things.

Monday, November 16, 2009

And, she punts.

I haven't forgotten my idea below, but I am too exhausted to think about it right now. I just got home about 45 minutes ago from working out, eating, shopping. I will update this tomorrow. I owe you 2 blog posts. Sorry readers.


I will post the idea tonight in its more filled out version, but I had an idea. I have told you guys that I am working to maintain my weight through the holidays. I usually give myself a couple pounds leeway figuring there is a little give and take around how much sodium you consume, how much water you consume, etc.

Anyway I feel so invigorated after some good news I received this morning (I will post about it later -- at work now and I want to give this news the semi-lengthy post it deserves) that I feel inclined to step it up a notch. I want to post a loss by Monday November 30. I will post more about how much I weighed this morning and what I will consider a victory tonight when I have time to think about it and analyze the numbers.

Feeling hopeful...

This post might have a little TMI -- you have been forewarned.

Because I haven't been going to the gym or water aerobics because of these freaking back issues, I haven't been shaving. Things had gotten pretty disgusting and very stubbly. I am going to the doctor this morning, and hopeful that she will let me do some gentle exercise after going to see her. In preparation, I shaved.

Can I just let you know what a difference this made? Wow, I feel kind of like a new person! There really is something to the whole "letting yourself go" concept. I feel so much better than I do yesterday, and all because of a little thing. I should not go this long without shaving again...unless I am trying to build up to the point I can wax (I thought about it this time but decided that is WAY too expensive so skipped it).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Overdue Hiking Post - Glory Hole

I took this hike last weekend and promised a post on my hike eventually. Sorry it is overdue, but here it is...

First of all, get your minds out of the gutter. I went to the Glory Hole which is not what you sickos think, but rather a pretty neat waterfall in Arkansas. The name is derived from the fact that over the years water has eroded away at a hole though which comes a pretty neat waterfall. I had seen beautiful pictures, but was honestly slightly disappointed when I saw the hole myself for the first time.

First of all I had read this is an easy hike. I would kind of agree, but also disagree would caution future hikers/guidebook writers not to mistake "short" and "easy". The hike is relatively short (~2 miles round trip), but it is STEEP and the trail is really beat up -- you really need to watch for potholes or you will roll your ankle, guaranteed. It is worth the trip though. Let me start at the beginning.

The trail is not easy to find unless you absolutely know what you are looking for. The directions say to look for a split in the road and 5.7 miles from the split, look for a barn with an "E" on the side of it. I was expecting a hugely painted E -- the E is not small, but it is pretty modestly sized. Nothing at all like a full-sized Coca Cola ad or anything of that magnitude, but still big enough to see. Heaven help future hikers finding this trail if the owners of the barn decide to paint over that E! You are then supposed to pull over and park across from the "house". Let me say that to use the term house on the structure that this trail is across from is pretty generous. It is a structure to be certain, but use your imagination to come up with a stereotypical vision of what you would picture as an Arkansas house, and sadly that would be about what this "house" looked like. When I get into rural Arkansas (which is usually only when I go hiking or kayaking), I am amazed at the poverty. It is really quite startling.

Back on topic...I saw there were 10-12 cars pulled off to the side of the road and figured I must be in the right place. I thought for sure this couldn't be a good idea to park like this but I did it anyway since I had driven about 2 hours to get to this place. Turns out my car was fine.

There is about a 1/4 mile walk from the main road to the trailhead. It is not a bad walk -- flat with some potholes but overall fine. At the trailhead there is this marker. Ahh, rustic Arkanas at its finest. Gotta love redneck advertising and the unnecessary quotes.

In case you can't read it, the sign says "The 'Glory' Hole". I can only imagine how the subtitle was written. I believe it first said "About 1/2 mile". I think as an afterthought someone wrote the + so it read "About 1/2+ mile". The most hilarious part (and the reason I took the picture) is hard to see, but beneath the subtitle someone had written in chalk "about 2 miles back". So so true (even though it is the exact same trail that leads you both down and back--this absolutely seems accurate!).

The hike down is not a huge deal. It probably takes about 1/2 hour or so. It is noticably steep though. I had to say it made me nervous to hike back while taking this huge drop in elevation on the way down there.

The trail ends pretty abruptly. Thankfully, there was a group of hikers down at the bottom who told me that this, indeed, was the end of the trail. From the end of the trail, you are able to clearly see the hole through which the water falls (if you know to look for it that is).

From the hole, though, it is a non-trivial (but short) hike to get to the falls itself.

The hike from the hole shown above to the falls basically sucks. This picture hopefully gives you a little appreciation for the difficulty of reaching the bottom (at least for people who have lived ~29 years/30 worth of a sedentary lifestyle).

It's worth it, though apparantly the time of the day when I came was pretty underwhelming from a lighting perspective. I was unable to capture some of the beautiful shots of this place I had seen in books and online. Oh well, I guess we can't all be Tim Ernst, can we?

The hike up? Let's just say it sucked. And the people who said it was 2 miles back? That seems about right. I could not find online the elevation gain on the trail, but it was so significant, especially for someone from the flatlands of Northwest Ohio. I was glad I had my 32 oz waterbottle with me, and a gallon of water in the car. I think I had about 80 oz of water during/immediately after this hike -- and it was only about 65ish degrees (which, incidentally, I am convinced is the perfect weather for hiking)!

My final verdict on this hike is that it is really nice, but not worth a 2 hr drive. If you're in the area, absolutely stop in. If you can couple this with another hike in the area, do it. However, don't just drive 4 hrs round trip to see this. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I do have to say this hike left me a little disappointed. However, I got to listen to 3 episodes of This American Life, so it wasn't so bad afterall :)

Terrible day with a Glimmer of Hope

Today was not stellar on several fronts (the details are unimportant but they involve car alarms and a ticket), but I am happy to say I think the weekend of self-imposed bedrest is working. My back feels a lot better today. I am going to a new doctor in the morning (the one that I am very hopeful is not a jerk) to get a second opinion and to talk through several issues with her. The ones most notable to this blog are that I would like to know what to do about my back, and what I can do to get off my blood pressure medicine.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bed Rest

My back hurts less today. I am on a self imposed day of bed rest. I have done nothing all day -- not even showered. I need to go grocery shopping, but I may or may not actually do so. I need to get healthy groceries so that eating healthy is the easier thing to do. Does anyone have any easy, healthy recipe or snack ideas? Quick things preferred but healthy and tasty are enough.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Random Bullets of Crap

  • I am back within my control limits (257.8), but barely.
  • I am losing muscle and gaining fat. Fat up by about 2% to 52.5% and muscle down from 22._% to 21.5%. Sad, especially since I am gaining weight AND the percentages are changing.
  • Being an engineer, I am a metrics/measurement person. This is a blessing and a curse.
  • I think I might need to go back to the counselor. This is all really bumming me out.
  • I am tired of hurting.
  • I wish I knew what the outlook was from here.
  • I know people lose weight by modifying their food only (i.e., not exercising), but I have no idea how. I suck at eating well, but excel at exercising. I think it is because I enjoy exercise.
  • This break really makes me want to be more ambitious when I am feeling well again. Not sure exactly what that means but I would like to do something big and measurable (e.g., a half marathon -- though I don't think my knees approve of that quite yet). Maybe I will take up cycling and do a long organized ride. (Cycling is supposed to be good for your back)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Top o the Mornin'

This morning I weighed in at 259. Yesterday I was 255. There is no way this is all real weight but still, it's depressing since it's outside my "control limits" of 255-258 (you liked that, right IEs?). Probably because I had cheese fries for lunch and spaghetti sauce for dinner -- yay salt! Also, my pants weren't so keen to zip this morning. Yes, they were freshly laundered but still you have to be kidding me. This day is off to an awesome start.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Terrible day

I had a rough one today. Not even for any particular reason. My day just kind of was a low level of suckage all day. I wanted to eat anything and everything bad for me. I had cheese fries for lunch and the urge to keep eating badly continued I decided to go on a walk at the end of the day instead of eating myself into a food coma. I felt like I was kind of pushing it since I shouldn't do exercise because of my back right now. Well, my back solved that problem by letting me know almost immediately just how pissed at me it was. Just 100 steps (or less) from the car, it revolted and really started to hurt. Instead of taking a "real" walk, I walked to the swings and sat there for awhile and cried. I felt stupid: an overweight 30 year old on a swing, crying alone at dusk in a park. Fortunately no one seemed to notice or do anything. I would have felt even more ridiculous then! Here's hoping tomorrow is better.


Thing here have been busy. A couple quick things:
  • I finally have a diagnosis on my back: degenerative disc disease. The bottom part of my L4 is going.
  • I changed PCPs from my jerk doctor who I can't stand and actively avoid to one that I have a personal recommendation on (and who is female!)
  • My eating has been terrible. Not focusing on it.
  • My brother and my mom have each saved me from going on food benders, on two consecutive days. David talked me out of the candy aisle at Target, and mom helped me walk away from the Ben and Jerry's at Walmart.
  • Feeling pretty down here, and overall malaise. Something needs to change.
  • The worst one: I haven't been able to exercise normally for almost 3 weeks now. This native is most assuredly restless.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Why are people fat?

I've heard and read it all. Well, not all, but enough for me to realize that people are willing to chalk up their lack of weight loss to so much crap -- but not very willing to accept responsibility that in 95% of cases they've earned it, one bite of cheesecake at a time. I have heard that the reason people are fat is because they're drinking diet drinks and the aspartame is causing them to crave sugar. Also heard recently it's because we don't eat organic so the fungicides, pesticides, etc. are concentrated in our bodies poison us and so we cannot lose weight. There are other things I've heard as well that I am not remembering now for some reason.

Do I think there's an element of truth to these things? Probably. I mean it's better to eat an all organic diet and drink only water and organic milk, I'm sure. However, it really all does come down to something pretty simple. Losing weight (and maintaining it) is about eating less (the same number of) calories than you burn. It's not rocket science. Doing it the right way by eating whole foods and so on is the right way to lose weight, but even if you eat 1300 calories of cheeseburgers a day, you will lose weight. You won't be healthy, but you will lose weight.

Convincing people that their fat is not their fault can earn you a lot of money. It might even get people short term results, but it can ruin their bodies and metabolisms (Atkins anyone???). This is one of the reasons we're fat in the US. I'm a poster child, too. Trying to change it, but it's not always easy.

Oprah struggles with her weight, as you no doubt know. She has promised that if she ever finds the magic bullet -- that pill that will make you lose weight without ruining your body and without any effort on your part -- she will let us know. She has the money to try it all so I am not going to try that crap myself. With time and discipline, I can do this myself and it all boils down to a simple (yet tough) idea.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Food and Exercise report - 11/7/09

I started off the day with homemade pumpkin pancakes. I had tried these before and I liked them, but found them less pumpkin flavored than I would have liked. This time, I used the whole can of pumpkin (~1.75 cups) rather than the recommended 1 cup. Much more pumpkin-y and to my liking. I also made cranberry syrup for the first time. I googled around for recipes and ended up just doing my own thing which was a hybrid of many of them. I used a bottle of maple syrup, about 2/3 bag of fresh cranberry, about half the syrup bottle full of water, a bit of OJ, and some brown sugar. I think something to make the syrup spicier would have been good -- perhaps next time I will add some ground ginger and some crushed cardamom pods. I had some milk too. Nice start to the day. Believe it or not I only ate two pancakes exactly as the picture shows. They were SO GOOD and I could have easily lost it, but I did not. I like this camera accountability idea.

Today I decided to go hiking because the weather was gorgeous -- it was in the seventies and perfect. I got a late start and so I had a snack around 1 PM. A delicious honeycrisp apple. Yum.

For lunch, I had a 6" Subway seafood sensation (my favorite sub), Doritos, and a Diet Coke. I also bought some grapes and the lady at Subway was nice enough to wash them for me. (The nearest Subway to my house is in Walmart). I asked for extra veggies on the sub, for what that's worth.

A bit about the exercise. I went here and it will have its own separate post eventually, but there was a very telling sign at the top of the trail that said "Glory Hole, about 1/2 mi+ hike down" and someone penciled in "about 2 mile hike back". So true. Very steep descent/ascent which was a good workout. Work those glutes! (Note that on days that the Razorbacks play football at home, the gym is close leaving that option out.)

I got back to Fayetteville around 6. I really thought about going to get BBQ but I decided I would cook instead. I was at a loss for inspiration, but eventually decided to whip up some beans and weenies.

There is nothing redeeming nutritionally about beans and weenies and tater tots for dinner. I realize this. However, I did add an onion not only for taste but also for a veggie. Also I used Hebrew National 97% free dogs. They only have 40 calories/dog. Can you believe that?! Not health food by any means, but at least it's better than the standard beans and weenies. Also, I only ate half the stuff I made rather than all of it like I wanted to and like I definitely did in the past. In fact, after eating half and waiting it out 10 minutes I was still hungry and my stomach was growling like whoa. I wanted to eat some carrots but it turned out that I did not have any (sad!). I am annoyed I did not do anything in the veggie department for dinner.

For dinner, I had strawberries and whipped cream. I had about 2/3 a box of the berries and then mixed in the rest of the FF whipped cream I had remaining in the can from yesterday.

All in all, not a bad food day. Way better in the fruits and veggies department than yesterday, though there is still room for improvement for sure. Most notably, I need more veggies. Also, although the cranberries probably count for a little, it's probably best not to get my fruit from syrup in the future :)

My pills

I alluded in this post to the pills I take. I take more than I'd like (I've read it's really better to get your nutrients from food rather than pills), but I don't track the food I eat and the nutrients contained in said food to know whether I'm getting enough. As a result I go the vitamin route. Also there are some supplements I take for different things. Let me give you the quick rundown.

In this picture, you'll see all the crap I take daily. Believe it or not, I can get these all down in one swallow 90% of the time. I usually take them at breakfast (but today I forgot so I had them in the evening).

In the top left is my women's multivitamin. Below that is Co Q-10, 300 mg. This is a cardiovascular antioxidant and is supposed to give you more energy. Below that are two capsules of fish oil. Good for omega 3's and my mom told me today it is supposed to help lessen the effects of arthritis. Did not realize that, but bonus! At the top of the next "column" is a supplement for hair, nails, and skin. My nails have broken a LOT less since I have started taking this. I have not noticed a difference in my hair or skin, but there could be. Who knows. Below that is a Vitamin E softgel. I read online that it can help to prevent saggy skin when losing weight. So far so good (but it could be all the other things I am doing too -- drinking lots of water, lifting weights, etc). Below that is glucosamine chondroitin. This is new to the lineup. It's supposed to help with joints, so I am hoping that it helps with my hip, back, ankle, etc. In the next column is niacin. This helps with the HDL to LDL ratios. Traditionally my "good" cholesterol has been very low so this is why I take this supplement. Below that is lecithin. I read that this helps to prevent saggy skin, which is why I take it. It's also supposed to help with the HDL/LDL ratio.

Finally on the bottom right is Lisinopril. It's a prescription medication for high blood pressure. I REALLY hate that I am on it. I am hoping to get off of it sooner rather than later. Exercise, drinking lots of water, and losing weight are steps in the right direction but I'm not there yet.

Finally, above notice the big grandma-sized pill box I tote these dudes around in. This is mostly a time-saving measure. You can imagine that opening each bottle and getting out the right medicine every day would take a hot second. Who has a hot second when trying to get to work or out the door to a morning workout? Not this lass. Instead, I put my IE training to work prepare drugs for the week ahead so they're quick and ready to go when I am.

Food and Exercise report - 11/6/09

One of my friends told me about something she and her husband do to keep each other accountable about what they're eating. Since one spouse or the other is often traveling and since my friend sometimes skips meals, just grabs crackers (or whatever's convenient) instead of eating something healthy, etc., they started a blog where they post pictures of everything they eat for the day. Now obviously eating too little and skipping meals is not my problem, but still I thought it was an amazing idea. With her permission I am stealing the idea and trying it myself. Day 1 of this experiment I met with modest success and a big challenge as I will explain below.

Yesterday I almost forgot breakfast. This is VERY unlike me, as I usually cannot function without it. Fear not, I decided to raid my go-to stash of Fiber One bars at work (one PB and one strawberry), and had 32 oz. water to wash it down with. Also, I had my pills (will post about them some other time).

For lunch I went to the Pizza Hut buffet (PHB). I was not brave enough to take pictures, and I texted my friend to tell her so. She sent a (loving and polite) text back that said basically "Suck it up and do it anyway!". I honestly did not receive this text in time and was embarrassed to post that stuff up here but I will report to you honestly what I had. I started off with a very large salad that had lettuce, onions, too much cheese (but I do love cheese), onions, croutons, and thousand island dressing. Their tomatoes are disgusting at the PHB so I don't put them on there and they didn't have broccolli which is usually a staple for my salads as well (very high fiber). I had about 6 pieces of pizza and two little breadsticks. If you're a PHB veteran (which for your sake I hope you are not), you know the pieces of pizza are pretty small. However, I would consider 6 pieces of buffet pizza to be equivalent to about 4 pieces of "real" pizza. Too much pizza by any objective standard. But there it is. No secrets. And it wasn't closeted eating either. Lots of fun folks from the office got together and had a nice ladies' lunch so they saw me eat every delicious but unhealthy piece of that pizza.

For dinner I also ate out because I had a concert that night at the Walton Arts Center. I had a #5 (Vito) with no capicola and extra vegetables, and the skinny chips from Jimmy John's with Diet Coke.

After the concert, I went to work out. I really was in the zone!! Unfortunately, it was late so I got kicked out at closing time and only got about 28 minutes in on the elliptical. However, I was at the highest incline and using a LOT of resistance (most of the time level 14 out of a possible 20 levels) so I made my time count. According to the machine, I burned 350 calories. Not bad for a half hour!

I came home (by way of Walmart to get stuff to make for the tailgate, which I am probably going to end up skipping) and picked up some groceries. This included some fat free whipped cream. If you haven't gotten that stuff, it is amazing/delicious. I got an extra can so I could eat it. The whole thing is less than 200 calories, which for a non-fruit dessert is quite a calorie bargain.

As I got ready to do the deed, I thought "Do I really need to take a picture of this? Do snacks count?" What a BS line of thinking! Of course they count! I did take a picture, and because I knew it would be posted for the world to see I only had half a can rather than the whole thing. For me, I consider that a victory!

I can tell that posting pictures is going to be a good strategy for me for awhile. In particular, I am pretty embarrassed there are not more fruits and veggies in my diet. If I have to be accountable for that, it will encourage me to eat more. I am looking forward to documenting my diet for awhile. Stay tuned.

Getting Old Sucks

I went to the chiropractor yesterday -- my alignment was seriously off. I was noticeably tilted again. He helped me and my pinched nerve feeling stopped -- for 6 hrs. UGH! I woke up this morning in EXCRUCIATING pain in my hip (the pelvis is what keeps getting misaligned apparently) and in my ankle. I don't think I have mentioned it here but the diagnosis is that I have arthritis in my ankle. Usually it doesn't hurt, but sometimes WOW it hurts. Today is one such day. Let's get real folks. Thirty is too young to feel like you're in serious need of a walker!

On a positive (but unrelated) note (I read yesterday that optimists live longer than pessimists which is not really a surprise, but let's try to channel a little of that...): today and tomorrow it's supposed to be around 75. Kind of freakishly warm for November, but that means the chance to do stuff outside, so no complaints from me.

I have a couple post ideas brewing. I hope to get to them this weekend.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Are you serious? This is an all time low for me (well at least during the Weightloss 2.0 plan). This comes on the heels of me eating some Chicago deliciousness (yum deep dish pizza and who doesn't get jazzed over a good hot dog?!), and yet I am losing weight. I guess that's what happens when you don't eat almost an entire hashbrown casserole plus a cheeseball in a day?

Note I am not updating my sidebar as it's not an official weigh in day -- but dang, I am stoked!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Being a Closet Eater

For years I have been a closet eater. It is really bad. Getting over that is probably one of the top 10 challenges of getting my food-life together. For those of you who have been morbidly obese and/or struggled with emotional eating, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. However, if you haven’t let me tell you what I mean and decompress a bit.

Closet eating (per my unscientific definition) is anytime you eat in secrecy and privacy, with the intention of no one finding out. There’s lots of shame associated with closet eating. It’s pretty terrible yet, at the same time, it can be incredibly relaxing – more accurately, it can numb you to your emotions which is absolutely stellar when you feel terrible. Unfortunately, there are several problems with closet eating.

First of all, it really is a temporary fix bandaid to a much deeper set of issues. It doesn't make the problems/feelings you're dealing with go away. However, it can help you temporarily detach yourself from the emotions. A food coma will overtake you and you can bask (temporarily) in the haze of just gorging yourself. When this haze wears off, though, you just feel badly about yourself. It's a total death spiral. (I feel badly about something, I overeat to numb the pain, I feel good numb for awhile, I emerge from the food-induced haze, I feel badly about the situation that originally upset me and now also angry that I can't control my eating either. Return to step one.)

The second main problem is that being a closet eater is inherently dishonest. You’re essentially living a double life. I can remember going to friends’ houses, eating a meal, passing on seconds (“No thanks, I’m full.”), and then going to get more food on the way back to my own house. Now that’s just crazy. I actually didn’t realize how much I did this until after I started losing weight, some friends pointed out to me that they thought I didn’t eat much when I was at their house. I was thinking to myself, “Really?” They’re excellent cooks and I really enjoy eating with them. However spending time in fat-land, I became incredibly self-conscious about how much I eat. If I hid how much I ate from friends, then I convinced myself they would not really think about how much I weighed. In truth, I have no idea what most of them think about my weight. It’s still not something I feel comfortable talking about that much, even though I think about it a lot. Now I am a lot more honest about what I eat. I don’t think I hide eating from others anymore, even though there was a time I would regularly hide food wrappers, dispose of food trash in places other than my home garbage can, etc. That’s clearly addict behavior. I work to be honest with you, dear readers, about my struggles and when I mess up. Even though I have no idea who you are and whether you read this (and thus whether “you” even exist), the collective, invisible “you” keep me honest. Thank you.

The final reason I think being a closet eater is so terrible is that I think being a closet eater really chews on your psyche. This goes along with point #2 about being dishonest. Most of all, I think that living a double life (i.e., a public eating life, and a private, closeted eating life) underscores the failure you’ve become. To me it wasn’t unlike what I see of drug addicts (mostly from movies, so who knows how accurate my perception of drug addicts is…). When I wanted to eat, I would plan out my stealthy food-obtaining missions in advance. My mouth would water in anticipation (literally in a primal-like physical reaction), I would become anxious and jumpy, I would look for places to go by myself and eat. It is ludicrous to reflect on now, but it was very much a part of my life for a long time.

In general, I think that anything that causes you shame is not good. It could be that the shame is misplaced, and you’re doing the right thing and you need to come to terms with your actions – that is, you need to let go of the shame and be proud of your actions, opinions, etc. An example of this is smart kids who feel ashamed of their intelligence, who feel like their intellect is a liability and who just plain feel like they don’t fit in. Lots of times, however, shame is warranted and it’s the underlying behavior that needs changed. My closet eating, of course, is an example.

I am getting better at closet eating (i.e., doing less of it). However, there are times when I really struggle with wanting to do it. The struggle becomes most intense when I am feeling really strong emotions – the toughest for me are lonlieness, sadness, anger, and despair.

Decoupling food and emotion is a tough challenge, but I am doing better at it. I think recognizing it is one of the first steps. It’s tough, but important. I would really like to lick this for good this time and be a closet eater no more.


I went to the gym this morning at 6 as planned. However, I only worked out for 20 minutes. The pain in my back was excruciating. It felt like a huge pinched nerve. Fortunately, I am starting to understand and feel where and how my back is out of alignment after having this happen so much recently. I came up and laid down and twisted the way I thought I needed to go back into alignment. Got a huge crack and a little relief right away. Hoping today is a good day and that this pain is gone for the day!! I have to sit ALL. DAY. LONG. (meetings) so I am hopeful that I can make it. And go for a REAL workout once I get back to Fayetteville!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Taking a break

Today I quit Weight Watchers for awhile. I am not using the tools and the program, so I should stop paying for it. Incidentally, today was my lowest weight yet on this journey. It is surprising to me because I have not really been actively working on losing weight in awhile -- really just trying to maintain. Also surprising given that (TMI alert -- you can stop reading now if you want) it's that time of the month. (resume reading here).

I think part of the weight loss might have to do with not working out for a week. I am sure I have lost a little muscle mass as a result of my relative inactivity -- the weight loss is great, but this is definitely not the way I want to lose it! As anyone who works out but is not losing weight can tell you "Muscle weighs more than fat!" Trite but true.

Hiking @ Lost Valley

This past weekend I went hiking at Lost Valley. This is a part of the Buffalo National River protected area. Most of the hike is very easy, meandering parallel to the Clark Creek. The amazing thing about this is the number of incredible features that are contained along this short 2 mile hike. First of all, there is a natural bridge which has pretty neat waterfall coming out of it.

To me, the neatest part of this is that the creek has carved itself a way through the rock. It is hard to describe but it is so neat to see in person. Basically, there is a very narrow opening through which the water can enter (I think it is a cave), and then it comes spilling out the other side. It is beautiful.

The highlight of this trail, though, has to be Eden Falls. There are three falls -- the lower, the middle and the upper falls. This picture shows all of them (although not super duper well)

I have read varying reports on the height of the lower falls, ranging from 35-50 feet so I am not sure how tall they really are. Here is me next to the falls, though, to give a little perspective. I am in the foreground and the falls are about 15-20 feet behind me. The water flowing over the falls and into the creek below is crystal clear. Thank you NPS for preserving this treasure!!!

Past the falls, I think the trail gets a little dicey. You basically climb up above the falls (aka very steep elevation gain quickly) and you can explore this cave behind the falls. It's my understanding there are waterfalls in the cave as well. Here is a picture of the mouth of the cave. You have to climb in to the left of the waterfall.

Some experienced hikers familiar with the area said that this time of year the cave is sandy and it is kind of dangerous in there. I was not sad for an excuse to bail out. Plus it will give me an excuse to have to come back. I'm definitely not sad about that. I have said it before and will say it again. Arkansas is a beautiful place. This hike is about 1.5-2 hrs from my house and I feel very fortunate to be able to do this kind of thing. I feel guilty for missing out on these opportunities the first two years I lived here. I am glad to be reclaiming my life and my health so I can explore this beautiful state.


Prior to today, I hadn't been able to exercise for a week. Truth be told, it was driving me crazy! I really missed it and vowed that today I would exercise, even if my back hurt (which it did/does). I have to say, it felt pretty good! First of all, I walked 2 miles to/from the pizza place. Not a huge bit of exercise, but still good. We also did quite a bit of walking around the airport.

Tonight at the fitness center of the hotel, I walked on the (faux) elliptical for 20 minutes. I would have done longer but I did not have a magazine or headphones and I got bored. 20 minutes was all I could do without some kind of stimulation. I have to say, when I was moving and getting my sweat on I felt pretty good. We will see how I feel in the morning. After I got off the machine I could tell my alignment was different (not sure if it was better or worse), but I still "click" everytime I walk (I don't know if that is something popping into and out of place or what but it feels weird and sounds kind of terrible. Not sure if it is perceptible to anyone else but me or not). I will try to workout first thing tomorrow and get my sweat on -- this time I will bring a magazine though so I can hopefully make it the entire hour! Gotta keep my heart in good shape and, hopefully, bring that blood pressure down! I really want to get off my medicine.

Feeling full

Aparently I have ruined my ability to feel full, ever. Some background: today I am in Chicago for a meeting/conference. I looked at the restaurant options around where I'm staying and realized there is actually a good pizza place right around the corner from where we're staying -- just a quick 1 mile walk. I a) love pizza, b) love to sample the local flavors when I travel and c) didn't want to eat overpriced, bland hotel food so I ended up convincing some of my colleagues to go to the pizza place. It wasn't a hard sell, really.

We went to the place and ordered a large. Now you probably know, but in case you don't Chicago style pizza is deep dish, has about 2 lbs cheese/pizza, and is about 3" thick (that's an exaggeration, but literally it is probably 1.5-2" thick and that is because it is stuffed full of cheese and sausage). I tried to Google it and I think it has about 700-800 calories/slice. One piece should be enough to fill you up, especially if you start with a salad (which I did). However, I ate two pieces (everyone I ate with did too...).

After we ate, everyone was like "OMG I am SOOOO full" and "You're going to have to roll me out of here!" etc. Now, they're all males so I am sure part of it is for show (e.g., "You should have seen the fish I caught. It was THIS BIG!!!"), but I am sure there is an element of truth to it too.

Here's my confession: I didn't feel like that. I didn't even really feel full. That's not to say I felt hungry -- I didn't after the first piece of pizza and could have easily stopped right there. However, I didn't feel uncomfortably full or even really full at all. I could have easily eaten one more piece, maybe even two. I think I lack the regulator to tell me "dude, enough". I am learning about portion sizes and am getting better about following them, but I believe I have overridden the built in "that's enough" feeling that people SHOULD get when eating. I am hoping that if I listen to my body enough, I will be able to retrain it to tell me when it's full. Clearly leaving me to my own devices is not a winning strategy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Food victories and setbacks

Like I said, I have been trying to maintain my weight around here at a consistent 255-258. I have been doing fine at this, which is surprising actually because a lot of my eating has been pretty bad. Not clean at all. I know I need to step it up in the fruits and vegetables department. And, I have been overeating a bunch and I have no idea why really. It is shocking to me that I haven't gained weight given that I have not been exercising. Let me come clean with you about a few things I have done. I'm not proud of these.

Sunday was a REALLY bad day food wise. In the morning, I ate a whole cheese ball and a bunch of Melba toast crackers. WHAT?! And for dinner, I made my favorite hashbrown casserole -- yes, I made it with 2% cheese, the healthy cream of mushroom soup vs. the full fat one, and with fat free sour cream. However, I ate like 70% of it for dinner. Yes, that's right, 70% of a 9x13" pan. WHAT?! Who does that? (and, in the spirit of honesty, I ate the rest for breakfast the next day). I also had two plums that day. That was my entire diet for the day -- cheeseball, crackers, hashbrown casserole, plums. Hardly nutritious (though I guess it did have a lot of calcium?).

I don't do stuff like that everyday, but it still bothers me that it happens at all. I have no idea why I do stuff like that. I have been trying to figure this out. I think a lot of it has to do with feeling like I "earn" things. Sunday I went hiking, and so I thought I would burn a lot of calories -- thus "earning" the cheeseball. I'm not sure if that's the reason or not. It's not like I was extra sad on Sunday or anything. I know for sure that food is not the way to deal with emotion and am trying (somewhat successfully) to decouple the two. I have the occasional setback with that, but overall I'm doing a lot better.

Yet I still overeat -- why? I must figure this out if I expect to be successful in the longrun.
These setbacks are not to say I have not been without victories. Two specific things from this weekend come to mind. First of all, I am a member of the local movie theater's reward club. Basically it's like a frequent shopper card where if you go to a certain number of movies, you can earn rewards. I have earned free popcorn before, and I did not use it (have you ever googled the amount of calories in movie theatre popcorn? Even WITHOUT the butter it is absolutely outrageous). This weekend I earned a premium reward. With this, you can either choose a free popcorn and drink or a free movie. I chose the movie without hesitation. Back in the day, I would have picked the popcorn and pop without thinking. Victory!

The second victory was PERILOUSLY close to a defeat. Fatties worldwide love December 26, November 1, February 15, and the day after Easter. Why? HALF PRICE CANDY!!! This girl was no different. November 1, I went to Walmart at 7:00 (thank you time change and thank you hiking for making me not feel obligated to shower that day) and I did troll through the Halloween clearance section. I carefully made my selection (a Reese's multipack with peanut butter cups, Reeses pieces, etc) and placed it into my basket. I felt guilty about it, but made all kinds of excuses to rationalize it to myself. I got up to the checkout lane to pay for this bag o' goodies and decided I just could not do it. Instead of getting a value-sized bag o' candies, I would just get a candy bar or two. I picked out a Mounds and a Reeses PB cup and decided to get those instead. However, I eventually decided that was lame also and just didn't get any candy. I was proud of myself (although, as I mentioned, I did get a cheeseball so it's not like I'm THAT awesome or anything -- but originally the plan was cheeseball + candy so it is an improvement).

Those are some of the things going on around here. I have good food days. I have bad food days. I need to figure out why I eat so much. If I don't, I do not think I can be very successful at winning this battle against living unhealthily. It's really just never a good idea to eat a whole cheeseball at once, even though they are delicious.

High fat diets cause impaired cognitive abilities

I heard about this study on NPR the other day. They found that high fat diets can cause rats to have impaired cognitive abilities. Like I said it was done in rats, so who knows if the results are the same for humans -- but it is likely to be the case. I can probably provide some anecdotal evidence myself. Fascinating (sad) stuff.

Back update...again

Things here? They continue to move on. I have had a pretty frustrating week. I have had a relapse (x2) with my back. The chiropractor thinks I have lumbar subluxation (facets syndrome), and in googling around the diagnosis seems consistent with my symptoms. The bad news is, he wants me to come in 3x/week for 4-8 weeks. (mind you, this is after going to him for almost a month already) That seems crazy to me! However, the problem seems to be getting increasingly worse as time goes by so it seems that sticking to the status quo is not going to work.

I was/am unwilling to commit to a long course of treatment like that without a second opinion. Today I went to another chiropractor/wellness person and I feel like those guys were essentially useless. They asked me about the first chiropractor, I told them who it was and they said "Yep, he's a really great guy. We've got nothing but good things to say about him." Honestly, I had really mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I was delighted they had good things to say about him. I mean, I want to go to go to a good chiropractor if I have to go to one at all. However, the BAD thing is that they basically told me to listen to what he had to say, follow his treatment protocol, etc. without confirming or denying his diagnosis. THE REASON I WAS THERE WAS TO GET A SECOND OPINION, NOT A ROUSING ENDORSEMENT OF MY CHIROPRACTOR! I felt like these chiropractors are all members of a secret chiropractic good ol' boys network who were there just to endorse each other (though in fairness, the second chiropractor was female...not quite good ol' boys, but same feel). I feel like I'm getting suckered here.

I don't know what to do. I am hesitant to commit to so much treatment. That is a huge (and inconvenient) time sink, and it is a lot of $$$ also. However, I haven't been able to exercise in a week now and so my back problems are most definitely affecting my life (and weight loss/maintenance) plan so the status quo is not going to work out in the long run. I have had three distinct episodes since the beginning of October. Does anyone have any experience with this? I welcome all advice.
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