Back At St. Ed’s

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We woke up to frost and sunshine this morning and my body was grateful. The Lj’s shuffled out the door, all sullen and grouchy, blinded by the bright sun, unsure if we should even be in the sun anymore. It felt like it had been a long time since we had seen her and we were feeling rather vampiric. I find that when we lay around and don’t do a lot physically we Lj’s get pretty crabby. My kids were picking at one another, irritated at every utterance, every brush, and if I heard ‘he’s touching me!’ type of exclamations one more time… So we got in the car to get on some trails. It took just a few moments until the grouchiness began to fade and we embraced our walk in the woods.

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It also took just a few steps to realize how out of shape we’ve become during the fall. I mean, we can still get around and we’re not doing terribly, but some people in our family have become more sedentary than others and were kinda outta breath, hating on the hills big time! We made it out just fine, however, with a solid reminder that we ALL need to be getting outside more often.

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We’ve had some pretty terrific storms around here of late and there was evidence of it all through the park. In addition to the branches strewn about, a number of trees had fallen across the trail, some too large to be moved just yet, so we had to crawl under them; it was pretty exciting and fascinating to see this place we know so well look so different from the last time we had been there.
We came home, watched Christmas movies, and perhaps one Lj was seen in the early evening, jogging on the treadmill, back at it again.
(Pssst- it was ME! ;) )
;)

Nifty Gifties + The Dreaded Weigh-In

This year we have family staying with us over the holidays. I am stoked: My mom and dad, all to myself for several days in a row. I’ll be like a dog rolling in mud, trying to embed enough of their presence in my soul before their return trip to Idaho… Because of the additional people, my husband got super self conscious about not having a hyper-consumerist Christmas with a loaded tree. Admittedly, we do load our tree heavily. We are a family who doesn’t buy much all year (our kids use their allowance for almost all of their kid purchases) and we go a little wild during the holidays… Because he got nervous, I decided to hand over all control to him and it has been wonderful! He’s been busy finding all kinds of great deals, and it’s been fun to watch him planning out our nifty gifties.
Today I arrived home to find all of the gifts purchased on our bed. He is finished, with the exception of a few things that have yet to arrive in the mail. When he started shopping for me, he asked about sizes and looked at me a little funny when I said:
14 pants and dress size {former size: 28/30}
Large shirts {former size: 3-4X}
Bras 36 DDD (I got officially fitted) {former size: 44 bazillion D’s }
Shoes: 11 {former size: 11.5-12}
And he asked me, “Are you sure?”
I answered that, “Of course I am! I know this!”
And he said nothing more.
But he hasn’t shopped for me without me since the days of 28’s. And he told me that as he pulled each garment out of the box he saw how small they were and was crestfallen that they would not fit right away, rather they would fit when I got closer to my goal weight of 170.
So, tonight when I saw all of those boxes, he shyly showed me one box and bragged that I was getting a really nice Christmas. He did really good… Except he wasn’t sure about the sizes on a couple of the garments. The next thing I knew, I was standing there in my underwear, a bandana tied over my eyes and Bradley was threading my hands through sleeves and tugging the hem of a dress down over my shoulders!
Then it got really quiet and I heard him remark, “I can’t believe these fit. You are so little now! I have a tiny little girl! Where did my big Mama Bear go?!”
We laughed, he pulled it off of me, and we did it again.
It was really fun, both to fit the clothes and to hear my husband’s loving words. He loved me fat, he loves me mid-sized (or tiny, as he said)… I think he just loves me! What a magnificent feeling. Better than the gifts (schmaltzy truth)!
Everything fits, but I don’t know what anything looks like. I’m excited to see these things I tried on come Christmas morning. He’s done an amazing job for our kids and me. We are a fortunate family in so many ways and I am ever grateful.

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{Christmas comes from Target, Ross and Sierra at Lj House :)}
I weighed in after feeling so good and getting all loved up and complimented from Bradley. It was 208. I was worried about being in the teens! I can deal with 208! One pound less than Halloween, and only one pound up from where I last left off! I’ve got good momentum again- I’ve been eating smartly, saying no to myself, avoiding eating at night and even grudgingly hitting the treadmill. I’m pleased with this week, and I’m hoping to glide into the holidays feeling a little more slender and fit! Three cheers for Wednesday!

Confession

Sometimes I just have to give myself a HOLLA because I absolutely force myself through an act of sheer will to work out. I haven’t worked out in a week, and it was a week that contained Thanksgiving. I have not weighed myself as I know that I will be horrified and my brain just doesn’t need that stress right now. Instead, I’ll build momentum with solid diet and exercise for a few days until I’m feeling stronger again, and when I think I can handle it, I’ll weigh in. But not now. Noooooo.
My workout today was torture. Every moment, torture*. It was every bit as sweaty and awful as one expects their first-post-Thanksgiving-holiday-workout with my heartrate soaring to the upper 150’s while maintaining a barely-jog at a clip of 4.8 MPH for exactly 22 minutes and 33 seconds. It was not glorious, but it was done, and that is all I care about.
HOLLA!

*not actually downplaying torture, I’m grateful to be ignorant of the true meaning of that word

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

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Yesterday I woke up to snow. Well, a powdery dusting of powdered sugar was applied to my yard- just cold, white and wet enough to look like snow but not enough snow to actually be of use to my kids… No sledding or snowmen, but cold enough to stick around for the whole day. Cold enough to add that extra chilly component that, were the day to forget what kind of weather it wanted, it could look to the snow to add that extra chilly reminder.
I feel like I should be adjusted to the weightloss permanent sweater weather syndrome. I mean, I’ve heard other people say that it takes a while for your body to adjust to having less insulation, but this is ridiculous! And I thought that it would be kind of charming, you know. Skinny girls are always cold, it would be nice to be chilly because of my lack of body fat, right? Oh my! Get my sweater! I’m just so tiny, petite and cold all the time… It’s not even a tiny bit charming. Then PMS just makes it worse for some reason and, like, highlights the fact that I feel so cold that I can’t stand it anymore, so I warm up in the bath/shower/hot tub, get redressed and start the cycle of colding up again… It’s like I’m in a video game and I just watch my cold meter change from red to blue as the cold takes over my body!
And I am already shivering again. LOL! I feel like I’m turning blue! I’m constantly feeling the prickle of goose bumps. Last year I got cold, too, but this year the cold seems exceptionally bad. Last night I found myself in ‘pajamas’ that consisted of fleece pants, over-the-knee-high socks, a long sleeved t-shirt, a sweatshirt, infinity scarf and a touque-hat. Dressed for outdoors IN the snow, but I was just chilling with bad 1980’s space movies (Spaceballs!), a blanket and three people pig-piled on me in our rumpus room… And I was still cold! It’s a lot like having a fever when at every turn you get a shiver, a chill and dive for the blankets preemptively for fear that the cold will reach your core.
That said, I totally pick this, every time, over being heavy again.

MPHS Class of 1991: Together Again

I graduated from MPHS in 1991 and have never, ever gone to a class reunion. I always said it was because nobody would remember me, but really it was just me being insecure and shy. I suppose the greater fear was whether or not anyone would remember me at all. After the shooting happened at my former high school, right before Halloween, there was a distinct sense of community that enveloped me and many other alumni. The community came together as a whole to support the current students, but many of us felt the need to touch one another too, a lot like going home for Christmas, I suppose. It felt like the right time to check in with those people I spent 12 years of my life with, my other formative family, so when an invitation came for an impromptu party at a classmate’s house, for the first time ever I answered in the affirmative.

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So I went to the party. I asked my best friend, Bethaford, to be my date and on Friday I headed north to authentically revisit my past for the first time ever. I expected to be nervous, but I wasn’t. It suddenly felt like the most normal, appropriate thing to do ever.

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{I so rarely go to parties that I need to show you my outfit! LOL!}
And I’m glad I went. I got there and had a temporary moment of panic when I walked in and it was just like high school! There there everyone was- well, not everyone. Maybe a dozen or so classmates were already there when we arrived, but it was a huddle of people I pretty much haven’t seen since I graduated 23 years ago! I was hit with that middle school insecurity thing, knowing that I didn’t really know these people and wondered if I was cool enough fit in, and then I remembered who I am! I’m Tamara Shazam! LJ! Mrs. L! T-Diddy! Tamarella was in the house and I had nothing to be scared of! I walked up to each person and introduced myself. I remembered the faces or names of most everyone except 4-5 people, but the best part was that as I went around I saw sparks of recognition toward me. My fear of not belonging, of being forgotten and being an outsider totally vanished. My reason for not attending previous reunions was totally unfounded: I belonged. I’m part of that community and the only thing that prevented me from feeling that sense of belonging in the past was my inability to act like myself from the fear of being rejected. If I had put myself out there more as a kid I know that life would have been different for me in middle, junior and high school. I held myself back from so many opportunities because I was scared to be my authentic self.
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I know this because Friday was easy. People know who I am now through memory of me and the vehicle of this blog. I hold nothing back here so if you read this, you know me better than my siblings! Not just the surface version me, but the gritty, dirty, dark part of me that’s harder to express. When I used to sell soap, I learned that the more people knew about the soap’s ingredients, how I made it and any backstory there was that they were way more likely to purchase it. The same can be said of relationships. As I put more and more of myself out into the world I am getting feedback that I’m normal, I’m ok, I’m even likable and interesting! When I share who I am, people want to spend time with me. Seems obvious… This was true of Friday, too. Some of my classmates are reading my site and talking about the same issues I am. Most a commented as that we were a bunch of insecure little kids back then. We didn’t know life, and today we are all just people. We are people with jobs, kids and lives and we are all equalized. If there are cliques, it’s no longer cliques for a hierarchical caste system, it’s just because those people hung out together and are friends, not because they’re rejecting anyone. The circle is open.

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I felt so happy all night at that party. When I look at pictures, I have a huge, ridiculous grin on my face because I had the best time laughing and loving with my peeps from MP. We are still family, stronger, now, than all of those years before. It was a little like coming home and I realized how much I missed all of them and all that we were.
***
#Effyourbeautystandards struck a chord with a number of people. When I post entries on my site and to Facebook it’s a little like yelling into a storm. I throw some noise out there and then can watch the traffic through my site, but I always wonder what people are really thinking because comments on this site and on Facebook are fairly rare. In person, though, I got more feedback from that post than any other, and what I heard was universal: I felt that way too. I felt unimportant, awkward, plain, unattractive… People who weren’t fat felt like that too! I have heard that everyone goes through it as a clich├ęd trope, but never really believed it until I had several people confessing hardships to me through teary eyes- ‘truths’ that we felt as tweens and teens that had morphed into guiding principles for the next 25. Feeling beautiful and accepted is a rarity.
The heartfelt response I got from the people who read here has shifted my sense of self and sense of my people. We are generally insecure and really don’t need to be. I was shocked at how much we share the same story but stuff it away and assume the worst. I’m actually pretty. And if I was a little wobbly before in my sense of self/sense of beauty, I’m determined to make that shift… and feel like I’ve already got a good start. Thank you.

Crushing

I went and saw Jordan Knight on Thursday. I can’t even tell you what it is about seeing boy band members live, but seriously. SERIOUSLY!

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So, yeah, kinda crushing on the whole boy band thing. Sigh. FYI- that was a dreamy sigh…
It was touch and go there though. I had the stomach flu on Wednesday, stayed home on Thursday too with it, then thanked my lucky stars when 1:00 in the afternoon rolled around and all of my symptoms disappeared. I was so relieved! I spent too much time primping in front of the mirror to get rid of that just-had-the-stomach-flu pallor, but it was worth it. We found the venue only to find out that they had moved the show to a smaller, more intimate setting, so we hightailed it to the right place right as the band started warming up. I planted myself about 20 feet from the stage and got ready.

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I’m not going to lie. It was loud. Women yell louder than little girls, and when they pack them that tightly into a small facility like that it is pretty intense. And yell they did! It was all for good though. Nick Carter and Jordan Knight worked hard for us. They had their cute little boy band moves down and they were shimmying all over the stage in unison. Nick repeatedly blew kisses and winks into the audience while Jordan vamped it up in the background. I was so close to them that it was no problem to see their faces. And some of the faces they made… Well, let’s just say that it’s clear they usually play bigger arenas where dramatic faces need to be used so the folks in the nosebleeds can tell what’s going on. But I was really close.
My favorite moment had to be when they started playing some of the older songs from their boy and pasts. Of course, I was prepared for NKOTB music, but when they started singing BSB Larger Than Life and I Want it That Way, Bradley and I started laughing so hard. In our early 20’s we had a Backstreet Boys disc that a friend had given to us. I listened to it but drove Bradley up a wall with it, so to be at a concert, singing along with a real, live Backstreet Boy is something neither of us ever expected!
Didn’t matter. I smiled the whole time and was so glad to finally cash in my birthday tickets. I’m already looking forward to the next New Kids experience, and Bradley said he’d even come with me. I love that boy and those boys! :)

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{You can’t see it well, but that’s the Pike Place Market sign behind my lurid husband and I. }

#effyourbeautystandards

I struggle a lot with beauty…
When I was a kid and all through my teens and 20s I thought that I unattractive. I believed I was plain and homely to the point that there was literally nothing to look at on me that could be considered pretty, beautiful or anything even close. It’s not that I necessarily thought anything was wrong with me, I just didn’t think there was anything special about my appearance; genetics had placed the gifts that made me exceptional on the inside, not out. I didn’t have awesome clothes, I didn’t have the right shaped figure, I was awkwardly tall, chubby (really, I was fat),and I have this huge, roundish-oval face that plays up my chubby cheeks and strong jaw line. I’m a natural born Amazon and didn’t realize that it is kind of a cool thing!

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I could never imagine that I would be attractive to anyone. Ever. I wasn’t ugly, necessarily, but I definitely never thought I was even close to pretty. I had plans, even as a young girl, to make sure I would never be seen by anyone naked ever. EVER. I worried about my future husband and what his expectations would be. I had wedding night plans of a darkened room, long nightgown and rapid flight from the bathroom to the bed. No one would ever see this! It’s funny, because when I think back, I don’t even have a sense of loss or pain about it, just acceptance. I said I was a non-standard beauty. Unconventionally attractive. That beauty didn’t matter. I relied on my personality to make it through; I fostered being funny, kind, giving, friendly, loving, honest and truthful, virtues that make a good friend or partner that have nothing to do with appearances. I assumed that I always rated low on the sex appeal scale, so I had zero expectations from the opposite sex and would see the most repulsive (inside and/or outside) teenaged boy on the bus or at school and I would wonder, in my mind, if that person would be able to get over how I looked and I might have a date with him… or boyfriend… It galls me now to think of how little I considered my appearance and myself that I lowered my standards to yucky people with terrible ethics and even more terrible hygiene.

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My husband describes first laying eyes on me as a magical moment. I had longish, curly, light-brown hair. I was wearing cut off shorts and an old T-shirt with a big sunshine-compass on it. I was about a size 20. Apparently, as the story goes, I was engaged in conversation with him and had to get something from the nightstand next to my bed. On my knees, I shuffled across the bed as he watched me and he just fell instantly in love with me… or whatever you want to call it. LOL. I thought he was cute, but he was a tall, blonde, blue eyed, slender man. He filled all the categories of conventional attractiveness to me while all of my attractiveness boxes remained unchecked in my mind. I heard through the grapevine about how he thought I was so beautiful and so nice and so friendly and I just could not believe that this person was even moderately interested in me, this chubby, homely girl who was really nothing special!

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After we got together, he continued to tell me how beautiful I was, how sexy I was and how attracted he was to me just as I was at that very moment. Again I just fell back on the idea that he liked me for my mind and my heart and he was able to overlook all of the plain aspects of my face and body. He was just saying what I wanted to hear, not the truth. He was just trying to make me feel better, right? I just thought that was something that you said to your partner, just like parents always tell their kids that they’re cute. It’s just what you say. You’re supposed to. That’s all I thought it was: an ego massage.

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It took him almost 15 years to convince me that he actually does find me attractive. That he has loved me as I have gained weight and lost it. Every curve and ounce has been adored and mourned… That yes, he loves my mind, but he is still a man. The funny thing is that I remain ever convinced that he is the only person in the world who actually thinks I’m attractive. I am told that I pass muster, even that I’m pretty or beautiful quite regularly now by friends, family and mostly my students. I honestly don’t even know what to do with that. Anytime somebody says gives me any kind of a compliment based on my appearance, I immediately roll my eyes, blush and look away in disbelief. Sometimes I audibly snort before I can stop it. I can’t handle their ‘lies’ at all. It is the most inappropriate response to compliment that I can think of, yet I consistently respond that way. I’m working on it. Last weekend someone told me I’m pretty and I looked that person in the eye and thanked her. It was difficult. Silly!

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Thinking too much about how attractive or not attractive I am can be a distracting and slippery slope. There are things about me that I see and like and it freaks me out. Shifting my thoughts from being a very plain person to thinking I might be more conventionally attractive than I ever would have imagined is really hard and pretty scary. I always want to be appreciated first and foremost for the ideas and love that I put into the world over how pretty my hair is, how nice my smile is, or how acceptable and shapely my figure is. But I’ll admit that it is really fun on the days or nights that I buy into the idea that I look pretty and allow myself to feel it, but I don’t want to go too far in that direction and become one of those crazy, vain, diva-women! It scares me. It seems safer just to keep on feeling frumpy.

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While raising my daughter I didn’t want her to be known for only how pretty she is. My daughter is gorgeous, she’s got long legs, a beautifully shaped figure and the cutest little face and smile that I could ever imagine. Her hair is long, wavy and blonde and she’s a kind, sweet, smart girl. From the moment her heart started fluttering, we have told her she is a smart, brilliant, creative and clever cat. I spent her childhood building up her brain and her confidence because I wanted her awareness and sense of self to come from who she truly is and not just her appearance. Well, I still believe that her insides are really the most important part that needs to be built up the most, but I realized recently that she’s entering her teens and I didn’t want her to start out life as a woman thinking that her entire value rested in her heart and brain. I want her to also know that she’s the complete package! It scared me a little bit that she might be thinking those dark thoughts just like I had: plain, homely, nothing special. Everyone wants to be special. So I’ve started campaigning, telling her how amazing she is and also including complements here and there about how pretty her hair is, what a gorgeous smile she has, what a lovely body she has, that she looks so strong and healthy… I started telling my son similar things too, about how his little smile is beaming with love, how he has pretty blue eyes, how his cheek is so soft and peachy that it’s my favorite one to kiss and how his little, round body is beautiful and wonderful to hug. I also need to talk about the things I see on myself, the things I like, so they hear me being proud and pretty too.

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But they have an awareness of the way I see myself. On my birthday my daughter made a movie of me blowing out the candles on my birthday cake and immediately posted it to Instagram without previewing it to me first. I freaked out! She looked stricken, ashamed, and very scared. I asked her if I could watch the video and she walked over to me and held it up in front of my face and let me watch the whole thing. As the short video played I was very surprised at what I saw. I wasn’t looking at a plain, homely monster of a woman. I was looking at a mom who looked very pretty. She didn’t look pretty only because of her absolute beauty, and she did look beautiful, she looked pretty because of the way she looked lovingly at her children and her husband while they serenaded her with the birthday song. But I can honestly say she also looked pretty just in her own right. Guinevere looked at me and she asked, “Is it okay mommy? You can’t even see your boobs!” I looked at her with surprise and said it’s a really good video and I can’t believe how pretty I look. And then I realized the boobs comment- I wasn’t wearing a bra! The horrors!

My daughter has an awareness that I have insecurities about my body and applies those same insecurities to herself. I reflected back on how she is perceiving herself and her own body development and the worries that she has as she is growing, expanding and changing. She’s already told me she doesn’t want some of the things on my body the way they are on mine, has asked me how to prevent certain things and it’s been hurtful, but I have to admit that it’s been me saying all those things in front of her all these years. It’s been me giving her a tour of my body and the things I think are unappealing or unattractive. Now I have the task of switching that around and making her see herself as beautiful while I try to make me see myself as beautiful too.


{The hashtag name comes from one 23 year old woman from Portland who goes by the Instagram name of wingardiumleviosa. I ‘met’ her online when she liked one of my Disney photos, because she’s a Disney geek too, and I started following her… Unbeknownst to me, she is also neck deep in the body-posi movement and inspires me all the time as she learns how to be unafraid of her own body and conventional standards of beauty. :)}

I Wore Pajamas All Weekend

This was one of the laziest-stay-at-home weekends we’ve had in ages. I didn’t leave the house except to go into my hot tub. It was that good. Anything I needed, it was here. Food? Fridge. Gym? In the garage. Entertainment? Watch my kids and husband- they are hilarious. And when I was bored of watching their song and dance, I busied myself with cooking, updating my amazon wish list*, sewing rags out of old t-shirts, thinking about Christmas cards and gifts, looking on Pinterest to get an idea of what the elves on our shelf might get up to this season. Wink wink. Like I said, LAZY!

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I was a good little exerciser this weekend, even if I was a lazy person who never got dressed in street clothes all weekend. I banked about 17,000 steps (not bad for not leaving the house) and got in about 100 minutes of running done in my glamorous gym/garage. It might not be pretty, but I’m not looking anywhere except the Survivor episode on TV anyhow, and the miles are peeling off under my feet. What a lovely distraction…

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Speaking of distractions, there’s this huge pile of leaves near my classroom that I cannot walk by with 25 second graders behind me. Every day I think I’m going to stay on the sidewalk, and then I find myself knee deep in oak tree leaves, throwing them up in the air, squealing and laughing with my students having the best time. I’m loving it and them. I mean, how can I not adore them. Sweetest little kids ever:

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Monday’s not looking so bad…
***
*My Amazon wish list is cracking me up this year. It’s all running and reflective safety gear! LOL! But the coolest thing I found for running? They make hats with holes in them for your pony tail! I am ridiculously excited about this finding. You have no idea. :)

Hello Weekend!

It was a good week.
That’s saying a lot. I’ve had a shift at work that threw me into a tailspin at first, but things seemed to settle down this week and by the time the kids left for home on Thursday, I sat down in my chair, looked at my list of things to do and realized I could check all of my boxes! It only took two and a half months, but I finally feel like I’m kind of caught up at work! Man, that was a nice feeling. I celebrated by cleaning my desk and sorting through a pile of papers. You know when you’re organizing unnecessarily that things are going okay! On Friday I actually ate lunch outside of my classroom! Amazing! LOL!

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I’m also happy to report a stellar exercise week. I was able to run on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday outside in the freezing, cold sunshine, and today I worked out in my gym on the elliptical and treadmill for almost an hour. I feel my strength and confidence as an athlete returning, and that feels really good.

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I have to admit that I’ve been avoiding the scale, though. My eating, while not terrible, has definitely had stuff in it that makes me worry. Now that I’m not eating artificial sugars, I’m adding sugar into my coffee, into my tea and in places that used to be free before. I’ve been finding that night eating is becoming a problem and I’m really trying to get that back under control. It’s been a little tricky and satisfying my sweet tooth has been a little challenging. Halloween left a trail of chocolate through my house that I definitely sniffed out. I’m glad to say that it’s all gone now and our house is clean.

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That said, I wore a pair of size 14 pants yesterday that were insanely tight on me right after Halloween and they felt a lot looser. It gave me a little bit of confidence that I might have lost a little bit more. Today I mustered up my courage to weigh myself in and saw 206.6! I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. It seems that since I upped the exercise ante a little it’s making up for the extra sugar consumption. I have lost four pounds since Halloween and it feels soooo good!

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Lastly, I’ve made a new friend at work who has been reading my blog from the beginning and is using it as one of her motivating forces to make her own shift toward a more healthy, active life. She texts me from time to time to update me on her progress and thinking and it pleases me to no end to know we’ve connected over this and I have one more person to gush over weightloss and exercise with! Keep trucking, Julie! :)