Category Archives: Motivation

A good week of healthy eating.

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I am not a vegetarian but the picture of this happy one made me smile and I thought I would add it to today’s blog post.

I have made my way through almost a week of successful healthy eating. I find myself away from home with many fruits, vegetables and single-serve options at my fingertips. This availability of variety makes it so much easier to stay focused and on plan. It has long been my contention that if one has a chef and people to do the every day tasks so one can devote oneself to creating, painting, writing, thinking, there would be no need for dieting. Alas how many of us can really do that? How many of us would really want to? I suppose the novelty would wear off just as it does for everything. That’s life.

My current geographical location is somewhere in the U.S. I know where I am but since I am not sharing that information with every person in my life, I would rather be low key. Suffice it to say that I am enjoying being a bit off the grid for a while while I devote myself to the long-neglected novel I began last November. I am currently procrastinating getting back to it by writing blog entries and reading lots of colorful, entertaining fashion magazines. Who would really wear these outrageous clothes? Let’s be real, who in my circle could really afford them?

I have been examining that whole “secondary gains” idea. I think that one of the secondary gains is that I can now find stylish clothing that fits me whereas in my younger days, anything that fit me was designed for frumpy older women who were not coquettish the way I have always been. In my youth, I had to re-design and sew my own stuff. Now, there are plenty of designers who are smart enough not to turn their noses up at the buying power of that demographic. Not having to spend my time sewing is a secondary gain. Yesterday I went shopping and found a nice pair of (extra-stretchy) jeans that I only had to hem. They were a “perfect” size 16! I chuckle as I write that, what’s “perfect” about a size 16, old me would ask sarcastically? These days, it feels perfect to me. I hemmed them this morning, ironed a complimentary blouse and voila, ready for the day and night. It feels good and if I don’t look great, at least I look presentable and that is no small thing.

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How boring it can be!

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When I was looking for an image to add to this post, I searched “boredom” on bing.com. The first image that caught my eye was this tired, lifeless woman who seems quietly desperate to be elsewhere. The caption reads “souvenir seller”…my goodness, who would buy anything from her? It is the perfect image to add to this post, as I am bored of the same tired subject of weight loss.

I just finished reading a simple, free PDF book by Brooke Castillo called “If I Am So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight?”.  Ms. Castillo is frank about not being a doctor or nutritionist, just a successful entrepreneur who managed to lose 70 lbs. and maintain it. In my book, that lends a lot of credibility to her pitch. I read the book quickly once through as she suggests, and will probably go back and print out the exercises, etc. There are a couple of things in the book that are different from others of its kind. For example, Ms. Castillo does not suggest we get rid of the temptations (junk food) in our cabinets or the scale in our bathroom. She insists they have a place in our life if we are to successfully and once and for all get rid of the excess weight that is keeping us from living our best days.

My “boredom” with everything related to my weight issue is hopefully the beginning of a once and for all permanent weight loss. No matter how long it takes (hopefully not beyond 2019), it is my intention to be rid of the 30 excess pounds on my small frame and never have them coming back to me. Intellectually, I know what to do. It is all about calories in and out. There are thousands of programs out there, for nutrition, for exercise, for inspiration…but everything really has its roots internally. At my age (63), I have read and tried everything. My problem is that I have secondary gains from this weight or I wouldn’t hold on to it.

That is where I am this morning: cogitating the secondary gains. I know they are there and serve some purpose. Today my goal is to be kind to me as I navigate my day from meal to meal. I have just enjoyed a delicious, lovingly prepared squash and cheese omelet, two strips of bacon and one half of an English muffin. I had eaten a banana earlier and I am finishing my second cup of black coffee. This substantial breakfast will hold me for several hours. I can honestly say that I rarely feel real hunger. I snack healthily every couple of hours. My problem comes at night when, after dinner, my husband and I enjoy watching television together and we like to have a cocktail or two and a couple of chocolates. If I reduce what I eat during the day, these “empty but delicious” calories would be no problem. If I increase how much I exercise during the day, the same would be true. But I don’t do either…so my weight either remains the same for weeks on end or (if the indulgence is greater), I gain a pound or two. Like many permanent dieters, I fight with the same few pounds for months at a time.

After childhood obesity, I successfully lost 35 lbs. when I was 19. I maintained that normal weight for decades. A medical emergency in 2000 caused me to gain 6 lbs. in the hospital due to a high calorie diet ordered by my doctor to protect my organs from the strong medication to treat my condition. But 6 lbs. is not 30 lbs. I no longer have any medical conditions (except some knee pain due no doubt to the excess weight) but there has to be some mental reason for this inability to get rid of the weight. I owe it to myself to stop making excuses and delve deep into my psyche. I think this is the big takeaway I got from Brooke Castillo’s book: I owe it to me, no one else is going to do it for me. I can and will succeed.

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A visit to the doctor

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I accompanied my 90 year old dad to the doctor today. Nothing to worry about, just a routine follow-up visit that had been scheduled months ago. My dad is not your typical 90 year old, although these days there seem to be more and more atypical ones around. Just look at Betty White still going strong at 98!

As I sat in the doctor’s office, I noticed that he kept looking at me, asking me questions about whether or not I had yearly check ups and all that. He happens to be an exceptional human being, and is renowed for his laporoscopy surgeries, many of them dealing with extremely obese clients who opt for gastric surgeries.

Every time I go to his office with my Dad (who has never been overweight in his life), I feel that the doctor would like a few minutes alone with me to suggest me going under the knife for such a surgery. I am not extremely obese and it is probably all in my mind but it does give me pause. Fortunately since the last time he saw me, I have managed to lose a bit more thaan 20 lbs. I wonder if he can tell. He, of course, looks terrific.

I fell in my shower yesterday. A blow to the ego but also some damage to my never-great knee cap because I had to figure out a way to get up and had to kneel before being able to grap the shower handles to raise myself. It is a terrible feeling, in that moment, I felt like such a dumbell and I could anticipate the swelling, the tightness and the overall discomfort in my immediate future. I knew I was going to have to let my husband know because limping was going to be the order of the day. The reason for the fall was that I washed my hair and the conditioner is super slippery but the reality was that if I had put down the shower mat, I could have avoided what I am powering through today.

My knees have never been great. I am not sure why that is but I can recall that even when I was thin, if I walked too much or danced the night away, there was always inflammation and discomfort the day after. I took a pain pill (no real remedy that I can feel), and right now I have made myself an improvised bandage. Luckily, the strain has not interfered with my ability to drive so that’s good.

In keeping with my calorie counting, yesterday I also noted the food I ate in my WW log and was happy that at the end of the day, I had not exceeded the points allowed for the day. I feel a bit hungry right now and realize that all I have had to eat today was a hard-boiled egg…the first one this week…and some fruit. Lunch is coming up, not sure what it will be but at this point, everything will be welcome.

 

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Such a conundrum…

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Recently, The New York Times posted an article about that controversial topic: eggs! (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/well/eat/eggs-cholesterol-heart-health.html)

I have been following the Weight Watchers (WW) program for a little over a year and of course, Zero point foods are an incredibly popular part of success. In the last year, I have consumed more eggs that ever before in my life because they are easy, tasty and zero points.

I “slipped” for a few months from the WW program and gained back 6 lbs. of a modest weight loss. I decided to give the Whole-30 another try since it requires the elimination of high point items like rice and bread, both my pitfalls.  I know that the Whole-30 is really geared towards pinpointing foods that make us break out or give us allergies, etc. but I tried it a couple of years ago, not only did I feel great, I lost 10 lbs. I discovered that I do have a slight allergy to almonds if I eat them in large quantities or in combination with chocolate but I otherwise can tolerate most foods, which is wonderful.

After being on the Whole-30 and only being able to eat eggs as zero point foods (well, veggies and fruits too but no more plain yogurt), I have only lost a couple of pounds which is very frustrating because I was hoping it would move quickly. Then I remembered that Whole-30 is not for weight loss (although that can happen). I am in a spot that I put myself in. At my age, no one is telling me (or frankly caring about) what goes in my mouth. My personal goal is to lose (once and for all this year) the 30 pounds that continue to haunt me.

Although I have never thought of myself as a veteran dieter, the truth is that I had a normal weight for a very long time because I followed a very strict routine. I ate breakfast consisting of a slice of toast, one slice of cheese, a small fruit juice and a cup of black coffee. Lunch was either soup with saltines, or yogurt, an apple and a diet soda. Dinner was a salad. I drank lots of water, did not snack between meals and cannot really ever say I was hungry. I suppose my stomach shrunk. On Fridays, I did indulge in a dinner which consisted of two slices of sicilian pizza (New York style), a large serving of steamed broccoli and a huge shortbread cookie triangle that had pecans and chocolate in one corner. It was a wonderful treat and something I looked forward to for years. I didn’t lose or gain weight with this method and I always had energy, good moods, etc.

My pregnancies were great, I followed the guidelines so that I gained a nice amount of weight to ensure healthy babies (one was 7 lbs. one was 7 1/2 lbs.) and then I joined WW for a few months to safely return to my “normal” weight. A medical emergency almost 20 years ago landed me in a hospital with antibiotics. The doctor ordered a high-calorie diet to ensure no damage to my organs. I left the hospital weighing 6 lbs. more than when I went in. I was unable or maybe just not motivated to lose the 6 lbs. and every year added just one or two more. In the course of 20 years, it adds up. I am now the carrier of an excess of 30 lbs. (at least it’s not the 50 lbs. it was last year!). I don’t like the way I look in pictures and frankly, I want to live for a long time.

So, the article has made it difficult for me to continue to eat my zero point eggs with abandon because now I have to worry that my health will suffer! I am laughing at myself because I might need to go back and just count calories, the only thing that really works. I will be spending my time this afternoon researching the diets (or to be more “correct” – the nutrition plans) of long ago that used simple caloric counts and common sense. I just want to lose the weight, safely and permanently. Wish me luck!

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Personal responsibility…

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It has been kind of an odd day. I woke up pretty early, didn’t do my laps because my husband was traveling and I was going with him to the airport. All went well with that outing and on my return home, I stopped in my favorite nursery and purchased a few things I needed for repotting an orchid. As a prize, I also bought myself two lovely, flowering African violets for my growing collection. I love my violets and their flowers tell me they love me back.

This particular blog has turned into my most honest one, the one where I often really do have a stream of consciousness, unapologetic narrative that deals with real issues going on in my life. I rarely read over what I write because it is a good exercise in purging myself of toxic things that might otherwise make me ill or require the help of a therapist.

I have shared that I was an overweight kid. Not obese by any standard but a good 10 lbs. overweight before my 10th birthday, causing my mother a lot of guilt, some embarrassment but mainly a sense of her own failure up close and personal. As a consequence of my fatness, I was not ever happy about a clothes shopping spree with Mom because pretty clothes in my size did not exist. My personality is such that I never really believed there was anything intrinsically wrong with me (we can credit Grandma for that, she never, ever made me feel inferior because I was fat), just that I enjoyed food and didn’t like to feel hungry.

I learned to sew in my early teens and never knew what size I wore because I made my own clothes. I was a happy kid despite the rejection from Mom and the relentless teasing and taunting of other people. My other (positive) traits became strong. I felt a need to be helpful, funny, responsible, etc. and those attributes did not feel like burdens. For the most part, I enjoyed being me although I do admit that I had imaginary friends who loved me unconditionally for more years than I care to admit.

Today, after the long and rather hectic day, I decided to take a look at the Discover part of WordPress to see what was new and exciting in the world of blogging. I came across a blog written by a fat person (I am one so I don’t feel I need to apologize for calling the blogger that too) writing long and hard to thin people she feels were/are judging her as she is getting on an airplane to travel. I admit that the writing is excellent and the thought process also. The long blog made me curious to see other blogs by the author so I visited her page and found one that was specifically about one of the popular weight loss programs in existence for about 60 years. It is the only one I feel really works and one that has taught me all about nutrition, calories, and getting to know good habits for maintaining weight and fitness.

It has always been my belief that we are each responsible for our lives. Unless there is some real issue, mental or physical, most of us should be able to accept that most of our decisions are responsible for where we find ourselves in our life. I believe that it is true that some of us have more of a tendency to have a hard time putting on or taking weight off but for the most part, it has to do with calories in (eating) and calories out (exercise, etc.) All diets will work if given enough time and most people who lose weight can maintain their loss if they continue to follow a routine of eating in a healthy manner. If one is consuming too many calories for their height/body type, etc. even from good food, one will gain weight. There is no way around this. To say that a particular diet plan is simply a business endeavor designed to make one fail and keep re-joining is to disrespect one’s power. I know what she means in a way but I can’t really accept the thesis. I have about 30 lbs. to lose. When I traveled 25 lbs. heavier than I am now in my small frame, I could feel the sides of the airline seat squeeze me in and so I purchased a first class ticket…these days, minus those 20 lbs. I can sit in coach and spend the extra cash somewhere else.

The blogger’s arguments against weight loss plans are not without merit but to simply give up the idea of travel because the preparation just along the weight issue (will people stare, will people not want to be seated next to me, will people insult me, will people assume laziness, etc.) is a nightmare very sad to me. I envision myself 30 lbs. lighter by the end of this year. My motivation is maximized when I look at pictures of myself 15 years ago because I remember that I never felt deprived foodwise but I always stuck to a more or less healthy, normal eating pattern. Years of dieting in my childhood and teenage years has made my metabolism very slow. This is something I know. I also know how many calories I can consume to maintain my weight. Extra calories without any extra exercise will make me gain weight. Although that is not the end of the world, being fat interferes with the way I want to live my life.

I want to wear belts and dresses. Right now, they don’t look good on me. I want to be able to go into my closet, pick out any item and know that it fits. I used to be able to do that, I am annoyed because these days I often have to try on a few things before I find something that is clean, ironed and fits. I want the old days back. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with paying for it when I can see that trying to do it on my own simply doesn’t work for me.  So while I accept that the blogger has a right to feel empowered by her rejection of following a plan, I think it is important to point out that some of us thrive (without obsessing) by sticking with it. Discipline, commitment and optimism are key to losing weight initially and perseverance and attention are required to maintain. What is wrong with that?

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Day 1 Whole 30!

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They (yes, those all knowing “they”) say that people who belong to committees or social groups, etc. quickly put on weight. I can only agree with this opinion/fact and have been able to prove it because it is almost impossible to resist the social atmosphere that exists in almost all the neighborhood groups I belong to!

Yesterday’s meeting began with greetings and refreshments. Yesterday was my first day on the second round of the Whole-30 for which I have been preparing for the last week. I took one look at the plate, drooled over the cake, caught a whiff of the freshly-baked bread and with unwavering discipline, quickly passed the whole thing to my closest colleague. So far by that point in the day, I had had an egg, fruit and coffee for breakfast, and a small serving of mahimahi with a salad. It was 4 p.m. the time I usually indulge in my afternoon coffee with a pastry. It was not to be. I instead enjoyed my cup of strong, black coffee which is actually no sacrifice since I have drunk my coffee that way for more than 40 years.

No one remarked or even noticed, probably because we had guests and there were many items on our agenda. The meeting lasted almost two hours, quickly followed by an equally long second meeting with a different set of committee members. Fortunately it was too late for coffee and too early for dinner so we just had our meeting and I went home.

My dinner on DaY 1 was a sweet potato with lots of ghee (clarified butter, to be more accurate) and a small salad, with a bottle of water. I can honestly say I was not really hungry. As my husband and I watched a couple of episodes of our latest BBC detective drama, I missed the ritual of the chocolate and wine and cognac!

I made myself a cup of herbal tea just before bedtime and slept soundly. When I woke up this morning (for day 2!), I was aware of Tony Robbins’ remark once (and I paraphrase) that nothing tastes as good as being healthy and looking great feel. I admit that is something that boosted my resolve this morning.

My trip to NY in the spring is another such booster. I have already started saving some pennies for what I hope will be a lovely shopping excursion, either for RTW clothes or some spectacular fabric.

Not a bad start!

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Preparing for the Whole 30!

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Following up on yesterday’s blog, I am almost ready to tackle the program again on Monday. I know there is nothing in the program that will compete or negate anything WW has so I feel pretty excited about doing it this way.

I spent the morning shopping and looking over the recipes and reviewing the “rules” again. I have to say that the practical and grounded me feels comforted by the fact that I can rely on someone to tell me exactly what I can and cannot eat. I love that every once in a while the author reminds us that we are “grown ups” and gives us much needed “tough love” as feedback. It is tough love that will work with me, even if that coach exists only in my head.

My husband, who will probably NOT join me in the 30 days, has been very supportive in the past of all my efforts and wondered out loud earlier why I had picked up a bottle of red wine. With a straight face, I replied that I was starting on MONDAY, no need to get crazy over the weekend.

I will keep us posted…perhaps with pictures so I can motivate myself. I realized not long ago that one of ways in which I was able to sublimate my desire to overeat in the past was by purchasing beautifully photographed cookbooks (I have an extensive collection) and reading and drooling over the recipes. Sometimes, I would indulge in a bite of something really spectacular and found that when it is just a bite it never did much harm and satisfied whatever the craving was.

When life is stressful, I crave crunchy things. When I am sad, I enjoy chocolate things, but really high quality stuff. When I am angry, I go for nuts that require shelling, like peanuts (which are actually legumes, I know, I know).

Have a great rest of the weekend. Perhaps I’ll take the day off tomorrow and post my menu on Monday!

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Is it tough to lose weight?

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The answer frequently heard is Yes, it is tough to lose weight. Depending on how much and how long you want to “diet”, it could be tough or easy. I remember years ago listening to older women discuss their sacrifices after gaining a couple of pounds over the holidays. That was back when I was myself overweight and a young girl. I remember thinking that these women were really crazy to consider themselves “fat” and compared myself to them and felt terrible about my shape and my lack of motivation to get thin.

I lost a lot of weight (35 lbs. on my small frame put me in the obese category) the year I was going to turn 20 and kept the weight off for more than 30 years. I have written or talked about this ad nauseum…then I started gaining weight, first in the hospital where I was fed a high calorie diet to combat damage from antibiotics given to me for cellulitis in my arm. Along with the high calories came a 6-lb. weight gain in 2000. I was still within a normal weight for my height and age but never got serious about returning to my former weight, in fact the last almost 20 years has had me putting on a pound or two every year which now has me weighing almost 40 lbs. more than I should. I am now obese. I feel great, and I think I look pretty good until I see pictures of me, then I feel like “Wow, why doesn’t anybody tell me how fat I am?”

At my age (63), no one is going to tell me how fat I am. And in this day and age of “everything acceptance” and “political correctness”, no one is going to call me out on it.

Last year I lost 25 lbs. (I have also written about this before) but managed to put back 6 or 7. I still pay for and try to follow the Weight Watchers on-line program but do feel that the tremendous freedom we have to eat what we want and track it, does not work for me because I work better with a program and strict rules…I am a Virgo, need I say more?

I tried the Whole 30 in the month of April 2015 with tremendous success. I am gearing up to do it again starting on Monday.

In the meantime, I will figure out the points on WW of following the Whole 30 (like I have nothing else going on in my life) and I want to get as excited now as I was the first time around. I don’t know how I got here but I cannot stay here…I want to live a long, healthy, happy life AND be able to fit into anything in my closet that brings me JOY…the JOY that Marie Kondo talks about. I have started de-cluttering and yes, when I feel joy coming from clothes that are too small for me, I keep them because I know I can muster the right program and willpower to fit into them in the future.

My goals are within reach. There are people on WW who have more than 100 lbs. to lose and they do it the same way as those of us who have 40 lbs. to lose, with determination, patience, and good habits.

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All I want is to heal

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I am currently reading Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss. It is my second time around with this book, the first time I read it, my motivation was not strong and the weight I needed to lose was more modest than currently. I was in New York and found myself in one of those bookshops that buys college textbooks to sell second hand and has a section where limited copies of current best sellers can be found for a fraction of what they would cost at a proper bookstore like B&N.

My interest in everything to do with weight loss has always been high even when my need to lose weight has not been the all-consuming affair it has become in the last couple of years. Of course, my weight has never been as high as it is now…well, that’s not entirely true, last year I was at my heaviest which is 20 lbs. more than it is today.

I joined WW in December 2017. It is important for me to get all of this in a blog. If it never gets read by anyone, that is fine, at least I know I have done what I needed to do and that is to get it down. Okay so, after joining WW in December 2017, my mom passes away on the first day of 2018. My mom was always after me in my youth to lose weight. By the time I was 20 I was slim and remained that way for many, many years. I got married, divorced, remarried, had a couple of kids, raised them and off they went and my weight fluctuated maybe 10 lbs. which was easy enough to get off my body quickly.

Menopause happened and I began to see the weight go up a pound or two every year. I did not panic or worry about it, until 2017…when I saw a picture of myself that I didn’t recognize. Panic set in, I had to admit to myself that I was more than 50 lbs. overweight. I have a very small frame, I cannot continue down that path. I worked with the new WW model and had great success. My weight loss has always been slow but by August 2018 I had lost 26 lbs. I went to New York to visit my children. I don’t know what happened…I cannot blame the variety and deliciousness of the food in NY, it still baffles me. I was unable to stay on track and I have gained at least 6 or 7 lbs. which I have not been able to take off. Add that to the remaining 30…it seems overwhelming sometimes.

I have lots of literature in the house on weight loss. Indeed, I am an expert. I could have written the books I read on the subject, I am that knowledgeable. Alas, I have not written the books and I have not taken off the weight. That is the difference between me and Marianne Williamson, between me and Geneen Roth whose books and workshops on weight loss I have also purchased. I guess I just have to commit…this time for what I hope will be the last and permanent time.

One thing that I have learned from both Marianne and Geneen is that I really, really, really need to be kind to myself. I need to stop chastising myself for overeating or for being stuck in this place which I just don’t understand. It is not easy, I feel humbled and sometimes a little scared that I will never come out on the other side, but I have to try again.

 

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After Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving has come and gone! It is amazing how one day turns
quickly into a week, a month, a year and soon we will be greeting
2019!

I have remained committed to my “healthy eating plan”, having lost
25 lbs. and then reaching a not-surprising plateau which then led
me into not tracking, not trying, not caring…

A couple of days after my last post, a family member died unexpectedly.
I think at that point, rather than properly deal with grief, I became a bit
numb and stopped even attempting to diet. I gained a couple of pounds.
Although I was tempted not to share that information, I decided that the
best thing to do is own up to it, admit that my participation or lack of it
is what caused the weight gain. Not beat myself up, rather understand
and decide that one of these meals would be the one that would make me
get back on the straight and narrow, if you will…

Enter November…still that couple of pounds not gone and now I decided
on the spur of the moment to join my pal who was participating in this
years Nanowrimo! Since writing is really all I care to do, even though when
I am about to sit down to write, I always find something more compelling…
I decided to give it a go. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in one
month, a novel…no, I am not going to finish the challenge, perhaps I will
make it to 20,000 words, I am pretty close, but the experience has been so
worth it. I have learned a lot about myself during the month and I am not
going to give up on the story I am writing because I have become invested
in it and in my characters.

So, November and Thanksgiving added another pound, so I lost 25 added
3 for a net loss of 22 lbs. in 2018. I cannot say I am disappointed. I still need
to lose another 30 lbs. but I have 2019 to look forward to. God willing!