September 03, 2013

Kelp Noodles, Beer, Sin, and Goals


Yep, it's time for this months' goal support post!

For those who are not regulars here, the post is mainly a chance for people to check in and leave comments about what challenges they might be tackling, or how things are going generally, as well as to offer support to others who are doing the same.  Comments and comment replies are thus highly encouraged.

And, as is traditional, I will also cram a bunch of seemingly unrelated things together and force them into a theme involving goals.   In fact I probably should have used a catchier title, one like:

"Surprising Motivational Secret You Won't Believe!"  Or:
"For Every Thing, Turn Turn Turn, There is a Season," Or:
"Gluttony and Sloth, Your New BFFs!" Or:
"Guess What, Kelp Noodles Don't Suck, But You're Not Getting Any For Free!"

OK, maybe that last one could use a bit of work.

(But since I am gonna slip in a mini Kelp Noodle Review I wanted to warn you there is no giveaway because I was too lazy to track down the appropriate PR person and beg. Sorry).

Labor Day Has Come and Gone... Time to Kick Ass?

Perhaps the arbitrary timing of holidays doesn't affect you much. But many of us find ourselves responding psychologically to holidays like New Years or Memorial Day or Labor Day or Christmas and what they imply about the passage of time. And this can then affect the mindset we adopt for that time of year.

(Oh, and by the way, happy Welsh Rarebit Day! For those of you who are of the mindset that what the world needs is more cheese and ales sauce on toast.)

For some folks, the day after labor day signifies the end of summer, and with it, the end of fun times, sunshine, adventure, relaxation, and carefree spontaneity.

:(

(Wait, did I just do a frowny in a blog post?  Gosh we're sophisticated and scholarly around here. Methinks I have been doing way too much texting).

Anyway, for these folks, fall can be a challenge and it can be hard to stay positive and upbeat.

For others of us, the end of summer is a time to look forward in pleasant anticipation to the trees turning vivid colors, weather cooling into refreshing crispness, crowded beaches and trails emptying into quiet solitude, and the welcome departure of screaming kids and late-night-partying tourists.

And for me, the best thing is that this time of year is that it generally brings a sense of purpose and renewal. I look forward to buckling down and getting shit done, and being a bit more resourceful and self-disciplined.  The smug feeling that comes with productivity and self restraint is actually kinda wonderful.

But This Is Not a Post About Being All Awesome and Kick-Ass and Self-Disciplined.

Instead, it's more about the opposite: embracing gluttony and sloth.

Because I don't think it's a coincidence that for me, this period of Post-Summer kick-assedness generally follows a late summer phase of greedy over-indulgence and lazing and loafing and procrastinating.

And here's what I figured out:  this is not a bad thing!

For me, it's part of a cycle, whether we're talking annually or weekly or even daily.  Some people are consistently virtuous: I admire them but I am not one of them. Neither am I a total fuck-up.

I am "good" then I am "bad" and then I am "good" again.  Overall, I maintain a healthy lifestyle and accomplish what I need to accomplish, but if you were to make a crude keyboard-graph of my actualy process, it would not look like this:                   . It's way more like: v^v^v^v^.

So given that I'm an Up and Down person, what I would really like is to have periods of virtue followed by planned periods of reward, so they don't feel like misbehavior.  Indulgence and laziness with no guilt, because it is earned!

And I'm working on that.  But I wonder if sometimes I tend to set the bar too high in terms of virtuous eating and exercise and other accomplishments, because I rarely ever feel entitled to gluttony and sloth. But they happen anyway, it's part of my cycle! After 53 years, I don't think that's gonna change and I'm not sure I even want it to.

I've wasted too many of my life's special treats by feeling a bit guilty about them because they did not feel sufficiently justified.  So how to fix this?  I'm experimenting with the idea that I need to to honor and optimize the Sinful Part of my cycle just as much as the Redemption phase.

Embracing Pre-Emptive Sin!


This experiment began during our Toronto adventure.  After a period of really virtuous eating and exercising, I found myself wanting to skip the gym in favor of walking. And some of that walking was straight to establishments where various treats were served.




I had already put on a couple of pounds that I wanted to say good bye to, so this wasn't planned at all.   Also I had been thinking day-times would be hot and humid, and so I was going to get a whole bunch of studying and projects tackled in air conditioned comfort and restrict my roaming to early mornings and evenings. Instead, most days the weather was lovely!  So I walked all over town and shopped and had numerous cups of tea and coffee and didn't get much of anything productive done. (Unless you define "productive" as putting up blurry travel photos on Facebook).

But for once I consciously decided: stop feeling guilty and just go for it!  Wander the vavious 'hoods and buy new jeans and t-shirts and have all the treats you want for the next week or so.  You'll buckle down when you get back home and get settled.

And guess what?

It worked!

I had a great time in Toronto, and since I got back I've been sticking to a much healthier eating and exercising routine and am finally tackling some long put-off projects.

And today I'm planning some total goof off time and a big-ass hot fudge sundae after dinner, to celebrate and (I hope), kick off another period of sensible and productive behavior.

Your Mileage May Vary

So wait, isn't this crazy talk?

Yes, it sure is!

For many people, alternating vice and virtue instead of sustaining moderation would be a disastrous, dangerous, dumbass approach.  Not just people with eating disorders, but anyone who does not have a cycle in which self-discipline reliably follows excess.

So this isn't me offering advice at all.  It's just personal experimentation and reflection about the current weirdness that is my approach to making healthy choices easier.

Now About Those Freakin' Kelp Noodles


During the less sinful parts of my eating cycle, I am still a big fan of indulgence and hedonism.  I still eat lots of stuff that resembles high calorie high glycemic junky meals, but I make a lot of sneaky substitutions. I consume many bazillion times the recommended daily allowance of stevia, for example, and if it turns out that's a big mistake and I end up with a third eyeball or something, I'm willing to risk it because I am a total child when it comes to sweet things.

So pasta is one of those things that I make substitutions for, and I heard about these kelp noodle things from Mizfit. However, it wasn't until we found ourselves here...

Toronto's Whole Foods is Way Festive

...that I was able to find any.

Remember the ugly mystery meal?


You can't even see the kelp noodles stirred in, unfortunately, but they are there and they tasted totally fine!

(In an earlier blog post I promised I'd reveal the mystery meal ingredients, because a couple of people actually expressed curiosity although I suspect they were all just being polite and now regret it but here goes anyway: a jar of 365 bell-pepper spaghetti sauce, onions, garlic, olive oil, eggplant, mushrooms, pecorino cheese, pine nuts and... eggwhites.  Which gives it that ugly brown color and sounds totally disgusting, right? Eggwhites were all I had on hand for protein and I was too lazy to go to the store. But actually they made the sauce seem kinda rich and cheesy!)

So anyway, kelp noodles have a neutral taste, and require no cooking (though I like 'em heated up) and the texture isn't bad once they've absorbed enough sauce to soften up a bit. They're extremely low calorie and low carb.  However, they are a processed food and kelp noodles don't have all the nutritional benefits of eating whole kelp.  It's mainly just a cheaty way to pig out on pasta dishes without major caloric consequences.

My previous low-cal, low-glycemic pasta replacement was shirataki noodles. They stink to high heaven and require a lot of rinsing to be remotely edible.  I like the kelp noodles way better.

The major downside to the kelp noodles: they are hard to find and kinda pricey. A package of 3 servings was more than seven bucks, but some of that could be the whole Being in Another Country thing.

And shockingly enough, I received no free pasta for this review or anything! What a concept, talking about a product I liked just for the hell of it.

So what are you guys up to  this month? How's it going?  Do you have vice/virtue cycles or are you naturally well-balanced and moderate? Or anyone got thoughts on Fall or Kelp Noodles?

Gluttony beer photo: Richard Giles

57 comments:

  1. Almost forgot to check in on goals myself!

    While I didn't do much studying as explained above, I did a great (for me) job on last months goal of getting more consistent with meditation. I was probably 80-90% on track on that one.

    I'm not sure I have an official "goal" this month other than to keep moving forward with whatever seems highest priority on a given day, and to keep playing with this "pre-emptive sin" concept. I'm just hoping the Redemption part keeps following on its heels!

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    1. Glad you are still on track with the meditation!!! Moving forward with what needs to be done sounds like a great goal to me!

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  2. hi Crabby. I was just watching SpongeBob and thought of you (Crabby Patties...)

    You are right. For some, occasional guilt free indulgence can be a good thing... a way to balance restrictions. For me it turns into a downward spiral of ick. At least in the eating department. So I figure I had enough years of indulgence and now is my time to show some self control and get the weight off.

    As for my goal for the month: stay on plan with my eating and ramp up the exercise. Get some pounds off!

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    1. "A downward spiral of ick" is totally a great way to put it Lyn! I really thing the alternating vice/virtue strategy ain't for everyone, particularly people who have done well with a more moderate approach.

      Good luck staying on plan this month and getting more exercise, bet you will do great!

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  3. I wish walking to food places would negate the calories! My plan for September is to walk more...I eased off of walking (still ran, though) and I liked how my strong my legs were feeling, so Ima suck it up and walk more, even by myself (gasp!).

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    1. Shelley, I sometimes fantasize about an imaginary spa/resort/fitness retreat that includes a really long pretty trail. And at every couple of hundred calories worth of walking, there would be a delicious treat stashed in a locker that has almost, but not quite the calories as the walk. It might be the only way I'd ever be motivated to an ultra marathon! :)

      And yes, I am WEIRD.

      Good luck on the solo walking!

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    2. Dear Crabby - Having treats that are not quite as much but close to what one has burned (at the frequency of about every couple hundred of calories)from walking or running is EXACTLY what an ultramarathon can offer! In fact, I'm convinced that this is why many of those who participate in this bizarre endeavor do so :) Ok - maybe it's kinda sorta partly why I do them. Anyway - point is: join us............................

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    3. Not determined or tough enough, but sure admire those of you who are. But if they're serving gourmet treats every few miles perhaps I should reconsider!

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  4. "Stop feeling guilty and go for it" is a phrase I live by... once in a while. We all need to indulge, and when we do, might as well do it without second thoughts!
    Fall is good in a way, for life habits: ice cream and beer are less tempting, and all the fresh produce is ripe and delicious.
    Good luck to all! :-)

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    1. You are a role model HSH in how to approach healthy hedonism! But one fall danger: pumpkin ice cream. Mmmmmm.....

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  5. I love the planned times of gluttony!! I probably have too many times that I just have what I like but it makes me happy!!!
    My goal is pretty basic for September - I'm hoping to find a sense of balance with my new business venture, blogging, fitness, family (I guess this should have been first but...), and all the other activities that I have going on. Oh, and I'm hoping to run 44 miles in a couple of weeks (all at the same time!).

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    1. Kim what an amazingly busy time for you! Good luck in balancing it all and not driving yourself crazy in the process. :) And if I could run 44 miles in a row... I'd eat any damn thing I wanted! You are a rockstar.

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  6. Sometimes, you have to have a planned crack in the armor, or it will break altogether. When i do, though, i make sure it's something i won't regret in the morning.

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    1. Love the armor analogy messymimi!

      I'll be curious to see whether my rather excessive treat (a whole two-scoop ice cream sunday complete with toppings and nuts and whipped cream) causes regret tomorrow or not. But I wanted it to be something BIG and not a skimpy or fake treat.

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  7. Planned gluttony - yes! It's like a vacation for your diet, an intentional chance to relax and live it up. I did the same thing when I was on vacation, because I wanted to sample the culture of the place I was visiting, and I think food is a huge part of culture. I love food, I really do, but it is so easy to feel guilty or uptight about consuming it.

    I do an at-home 'filthy fifty' workout - 50 pushups, 50 burpees, 50 squats, 50 walking lunges, 50 tuck jumps, 50 situps - and my current September goal is to get my time down to 10 minutes from 11 and change. My second goal is to get more knowledgeable about resistance training, and towards that I signed up for a weekly program at my local YMCA.

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    1. OMG sparkymoves, welcome and thanks especially for sharing your Filthy Fifty! That sounds straightforward and simple and horrible in just the awesome way a good intense workout should be. I suspect it would take me 10 hours rather than 10 minutes but I'm tempted to give it a try!

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    2. Thanks! I am a GIGANTIC fan of your blog, but tend to be a lurker.

      My roller derby team does the Filthy Fifties (I understand it was inspired by Crossfit) and we track our results every week. It's a tough workout, but there's a trick to it...alternate the exercises in rounds of 10 instead of trying to burst out 50 burpees all at once. The first time is brutal, but it's really gratifying when on the second attempt everyone tends to cut at least a minute off their time!

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    3. Your blog looks awesome too! Is it new, or am I missing the link to the archives? Looking forward to reading more!

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    4. Thank you so much! It's brand new, no archives yet. I'm aiming for one post a week for now.

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  8. Momentum is so critical, positive or negative.

    Like a snowball rolling downhill, if you start bad habits, you will be one fat ball by the bottom. If on the other hand, there ain't no snow in the hill, that snowball will be a while lot lighter by the bottom.

    Or something like that, lol!

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    1. Too funny Dr. J, and your approach makes total sense. And my opposite and possibly idiotic tactic of embracing bad habits may not have a snowball's chance in hell of working.

      But I'm looking forward to testing it out!

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  9. Damn, damn, damn, Crabby, here I was, RUNNING to see if I could get myself some free KELP NOODLES (I'll be damned if I will make a comment about kelp that I will have to delete ;) ) and you have a post about hmmm the way I live my life. No, really, I am relieved to see that somebody like you, occasionally, lives the way I do. I am a person of extremes, when it comes to eating. It works for me. It always did.
    My goal, however, during this favorite time of year (totally new beginnings association for me), is to keep the "free for alls" a bit under control. I'm PRE(paring) for some exciting changes that will come at the end of the month and I'm practicing in anticipation of having to learn some new behavior patterns. "Free for all" is one thing, going beyond that is something I'd like to get under control. By the time I work on it more formally, I hope to be desensitized to the idea, so it does not come as a complete shock to my system.
    Lyn, I feel 'ya, my friend! I think I'd go nuts if I stayed the same wt. and ate the number of calories that you do, most days.

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    1. Love the idea of preparing and desensitizing before embarking on behavior change! Because, yeah, a "free for all" that doesn't come to a natural conclusion before bodily or self-esteem damage is done is pretty demoralizing.

      Looking forward to hearing how the prep is going, and it's great you're anticipating excitement around shifting those patterns and not pain-in-the-ass drudgery. ;)

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  10. Vice and virtue make for great cycles. I'm curious about kelp noodles now. If I find 'em anywhere I'll give 'em a shot.

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    1. Hope you get the chance because I'd love to hear what you think Leah!

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  11. Yin and Yang. Can't have one without t'other, right? I love that you let go and had fun. My challenge is to not (over) analyze or scrutinize. Sometimes, just do or just be and then move on...sans judgment or afterthought (OR "penance").
    So, this is previously wanna be, but BECAME and now have to back off :( of push ups gal, here. I got to about 10 (wide, regular and even some "diamonds") and then somehow injured the base of the palm of one hand. Damn! I'm trying to come up with alternatives that feel as gonzo as push ups did for me. But, geeze :(..........

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    1. So frustrating about the palm injury but wow, to get as far as you did is pretty amazing!

      Is the palm any better when it's curled around something, i.e., one of those "perfect pushup" thingies with handles or a dumbell chest press or a dip? I'm sure you'll find SOME new way to be awesome with the upper body strength.

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  12. I am one of those who is always naturally balanced ... until I fall down and go boom. And I have had a super lazy-ass summer of slothness. The ONLY thing I did exercise wise was my yoga for two days a week.

    Goals were made and began today though. A local gym is having a ten cent sale. For the first month you pay ten cents for membership. No 'signing' fee. Then if you stay beyond a month you pay $40 once and $10/month after that. I have wasted ten bucks a month in several ways, so I thought this might be a good thing! I had been trying to get back with a trainer I worked with last year but after many many unanswered phone calls, I gave up.

    I preach strength training to my peeps at class and need to practice what I preach. Just think how I will be able to show them how good strength training can be! I can't afford a trainer at this gym though, so I will have to figure out my own routines, but I am smart like that and bet I can do it.

    That's my update. And I will be turning 59 in a few weeks, so even us late bloomers can get sidetracked, have a little fun, and then get back on track without too much damage.

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    1. Hooray for the 10 cent sale, what a thrifty and sensible way to get going on the exercise again! And the ultimate $10 a month sounds like an incredible deal. I SO agree that the trick to lifelong fitness is not perfection, but is getting back on track over and over and over and over again.

      Have fun at the gym!

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  13. I think "on again - off again" describes me pretty well. Lately it seems like there has been too much "off" unfortunately. But I did something very similar to you - I decided to give myself time off because I felt like I needed it. I sat in my garden with my book and my camera and watched the birds. Just what I needed. Sometimes you have to give yourself a break.

    I am a pasta snob - I don't tend to like substitutions. Kind of a problem if you are trying to avoid wheat. I did try some organic red spelt noodles recently and was pleasantly surprised. Not sure I'm ready for kelp.

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    1. Love the bird watching break... yesterday I did something similar; in the middle of a walk I plopped myself down on a rock and just watched the water swirl and the fish swim by. Heaven.

      I think there is something seasonal going on here; so many of us went to seed in August and feel renewed vigor now to get back on track. And hmm, red spelt noodles sound intriguing!

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  14. Awesome. Kelp noodles! I want! Thanks for sharing.

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  15. New book coming soon. Vice and Virtue...by ME! That describes me very well and I am thrilled to see I am not alone.

    September is a very busy time for me. I started a new work placement and I am back to school full-time. In a couple of weeks I should be used to the new routine...which of course will change in January.

    I am still successful with my daily meditation goal, but I upped the ante for September. I am very fond of guided meditations or chanting as meditation, so this month I am doing silent, unguided meditations for 30 days. So far, so good.

    I wish all the Cranketeers success with their goals for this month! Go us!!!

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    1. Cheers for upping the ante, Kimberly.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    2. Wow, it's great that even with your busy fall Kimberley you're keeping up with the meditation and even challenging yourself further. You're inspiring me to keep going! Hmm, chanting (or drumming maybe?) sound intriguing, havent tried those yet. Good luck!

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  16. Gluttony and sloth, my favorites!

    I did not go to seed in August; instead I pushed forward on getting my chimney guy to install my stove, and it is Done. I'm still celebrating. What I did not do is even mention cutting back a day at my second job (there were Reasons to skip that) so that will move forward to become my goal for this month.

    Go, Crabby Meditation!

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. I'm glad ONE of us kept up the good fight during august Mary Anne! Yay for the stove, bit by bit you're really making the transition fall into place.

      And getting more time to yourself will awesome!!!

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    2. Yay to being done with your stove!!! Great work, Mary Anne!!!

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  17. Also, kelp noodles. I tried them when my mother (the one with all the food allergies) was using them, and found them really boring, but then I find pasta boring on the whole, depending on how interesting what's on top of it is.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. Yeah, kelp noodles are great for a neutral noodle-like experience, but they're not exactly a "delicious" kinda thing.

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  18. the child and I LOOOOVE THE KELP NOODLES!!
    the husband still wont try em.

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    1. The Lobster isn't too curious either! But she does fine on wheat and isn't a low carb type person; I'm just thrilled to find something that works for spaghetti that doesn't smell like dead fish!

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  19. I tried the kelp noodles the other day. I let them soak (in broth) for quite a while, but couldn't get them to soften up AT ALL. I must try again.
    I'm envious of your Canadian Adventure. I LOVE Canada! Looks like it was a lot of fun. :)

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    1. Hmm, interesting about the kelp noodles, wonder if it was a different brand? Mine seemed to soften when stirred into the warmed sauce. Sorry about that!

      And yeah, Canada is awesome!

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  20. I too workout and eat as healthy as I can but enjoy going off the grid. Hell, I earned it. I'm worth it and all that rot. I'll have to check out kelp noodles.

    I was wondering if you saw Dave Smith in person, as he lives near Toronto. I've been doing his online program and I definitely earn splurges. I found out about him from this blog, so thanx for that.

    I've been to Toronto twice but never left the airport. the Sheraton was nice. I have friends living in Vancouver/Pitt Meadows. I do love Canada. Foreign but not that foreign.

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    1. Shoot, how did I not know Dave Smith was near Toronto? Would have been fun to see him in person! And I'll be curious what you think about kelp noodles.

      "Foreign but not that foreign," perfect description!

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  21. Hello, I am so glad I found your blog. I just love your approach and tone. I have been on diets for years, and truly decided at 34 it was time to be realistic and take a different approach. At my size, I started out at 511 and now way 484, people tend to disagree quickly when you talk about eating based on hunger and making small changes. I have done the calorie counting, the points, and so on and so on. Now I am on a journey to figure this out in my own way. But at the same time am open to others ideas. It was just refreshing to read your post.

    Leslie
    www.weight4baby.com

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    1. Leslie, welcome and thanks so much!

      It is confusing with all the different approaches and finding what works for YOU is the most important thing. So glad you are off to a great start. And your blog looks great and very inspiring!

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  22. Not a noodle person so that takes care of that! :)

    I think we all come to this food & what works differently. I am glad you enjoyed & you knew deep inside that you would get back to it anyway so.. but many can't or get side tracked & give up.. I am that one that just plods along all year long the same - I stick to my program & plan for the craziness of this time of year with holidays & all that other great stuff - LOVE the food this time of year but I have many years under the belt getting thru it... vacations, the same.. I manage it. I don't like to stray to far off - I gain too easily & my tummy can't handle it anyway! :)

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  23. Jody, you are one of the most sensible and balanced people I know, and so proactive about planning around times that are challenging for maintaining healthy habits. You're a moderation role model!

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  24. I must say that I have never heard of kelp noodles. Nor will I be buying any of it in the near future. But we all need cheat days and having an ice cream now and then isn't that bad for you. Keep up the good work and don't give up.

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  25. There's wrong with over indulgence once in a while, so long as it doesn't become a habit.

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  26. I'm afraid I always start with the best of intentions "one little splurge won't hurt" and next thing I know I'm at the bottom of a box of Oreos. :) However, I have found, when I'm on the clean eating machine two things help: 1) our employee dining room is closed (oh, the fried food heaven), and 2) planned menus, including cheat days. With no guilt. And speaking of which, my travel season is winding down and it's time to get back to it... So for this month: get my menus back on track, cut down on the eating out, and stick to dark chocolate only.

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    1. Excellent idea to plan menus bdaiss, especially if you get some cheaty wriggle room! And dark chocolate is my go-to dessert for non Indulgent days as it's a little more reasonable in the tradeoffs: fairly healthy, not too evil, and not quite delicious enough to go totally off the rails on. Not that I haven't had WAY more than I need at times! But a bit more self-limiting somehow than something like cookies.

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  27. "Gluttony and Sloth." I like it. I'm like you. I cycle. Good. Bad. Good. But I'm never THAT bad. So it all works out in the long run. That's what I'm trying to focus on because I've been in "bad" mode of late. I've been working through injuries and when I can't exercise like I like to I am rarely mature enough to not say, "Oh F it," with my diet too. I seem to be on the mend in all ways and am now trying to figure out how to balance working out with working, and as you've maybe noticed, blogging hasn't been happening at all, but I mean for it to. :( So I guess my goal for this month is to figure out a real schedule that will work for my life so that I'm consistently getting sh** done. My plan is to work out in the early AM, but then nights like tonight, when I'm wide awake at 3:oo and might not go back to sleep until 5:00 tend to mess that up, because I really feel like maybe it benefits me to sleep when I can. An excuse? Not sure. Maybe. Ugh, being a mature grown up is so taxing sometimes. Wish me luck.
    Gaye

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    1. So sorry about the injuries Gaye, that sucks and makes it so hard to keep a feeling of momentum going. And with work gearing up, priorities get all conflicting and confusing. And insomnia? Accck! (Mine's finally gotten better, knock wood).

      Good luck, and figure all you can do is your best! Sounds like the eating thing is the most promising thing to clean up given the time and sleep and injury constraints around exercise. But even on the exercise I know you're pretty creative and resourceful and will no doubt figure something out!

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