Backyard Coffee Talk #1

Hello People!

Yep, it’s me.  After a super long time of disappearance, I have resurfaced from the ashes.

Rather than go into a long explanation here, I’ll let you view my video and hopefully that will answer any questions. Since I made the video (about 2 weeks ago) I have been staying on track and doing well.  Hopefully, you are too.  If you are new to my blog, welcome and please join me on my weight loss journey to lose weight once and for all.  My intention is to inspire healthy habits for everyone.

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Sugar Anyone?

Inspirational Sunday: Meditation for Sugar Avoidance

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Hello People!

Yes, yet another post about sugar being bad.  Are you catching a theme here?  Not that I have ANY PROBLEM with the white stuff! And by that I mean, hell’s yeah I do.

If you haven’t seen the video for Sugar the Bitter Truth, well get yourself a viewing ASAP!  It really tells all the ins and outs of what sugar truly does in the body.  Long story short, it purely gets stored as fat, well in most cases it does, by 100%.  If you are trying to lose any kind of weight, sugar can be your greatest burden on that journey especially if you are past the age of 40. Remember too that “sugar” has other forms in addition to glucose or sucrose (white sugar) such as white flour, white rice, refined grain products, and alcohol.

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We could take a few more liberties when we were young, right?  Remember how you could eat a binge meal on the weekend and it really didn’t effect your weight too much?  After you reach mid-life, the metabolism changes, especially in us women…and I don’t care what the research says on the matter (it says we lose muscle which slows it down, but most of it says the slowing of the metabolism is a myth!); it does change. Until you get to my age and are a woman, no one gets this!  I hear a lot of younger women touting advice, but they have no idea what they are talking about.  They are still young!  This metabolism issue has been my problem since I started this blog.  After age 38 I gained 10 pounds in a month and have been struggling for 4.5 years to take it off.  Every meal, morsel and sugar crystal counts these days. It was never this hard before. Do you have the same issue?

I’ve been reading a book called Think Yourself Thin – Change Your Brain for Permanent Weight Loss by Darcy D. Buehler Ph.D.  It is an interesting book on using mediations for focusing on your trouble areas of weight loss.  There is nothing new in the book about how weight loss works, but she is a psychologist who understands that the brain needs a little coaxing in the area of the subconscious to change its old ways.  This is a fascinating area of study for me.  We consciously know what to do, but because of old habits and old ways of thinking, we repeat bad eating choices and continue to have eating issues despite what we know is right.  Why?  The subconscious is playing that old record of sabotaging good eating habits over and over and we won’t change the subconscious until it learns to think differently.  Somehow, someway, the subconscious has learned to think along one path and it will take a bit of work to make it ditch it’s former beliefs.  And actually, she tells in the book how you can literally change the shape of the neural pathways in the brain with new thinking patterns. As she puts it:

 “The mental process you are about to embark upon will, over time, imbed the new thoughts into the brain.  Once this is done, the new thoughts and urges will outweigh the old – and you will stay thin.  Your brain circuitry will now support – and sometimes even initiate – the urges fundamental to your new healthy lifestyle.”

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I leave you now with one of her meditation verses.  It is written for you to do while laying down and relaxed.  Focus on the phrases that speak to you and repeat them over and over until you really feel their solidity in your thinking.  Mumbo jumbo?  Try it…what have you got to lose?

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Meditation: Sugar Avoidance (part 1)

  • In a nice, relaxed position, begin to breathe slowly and rhythmically, inhaling and exhaling, as you relax your shoulders and soften your belly.
  • Allow your body to breathe rhythmically and naturally.
  • Notice the support of the cushions beneath you as you begin to relax.  Notice a heaviness throughout your body as you become more and more relaxed.
  • Over the next several days you will find yourself in many situations, many situations in which various forms of refined sugar will be available to you.
  • You know the situations, so begin to see yourself.
  • See yourself at home, out at your favorite restaurant, at work, at the grocery store, at the convenience store when you go in to pay for your gas -many situations- and the growing image you have of yourself is one of strength and confidence, feeling almost no desire for sugar.
  • Your head is held high, your shoulders are thrown back, and in your eye is a glimmer of hope.
  • You are feeling so good about yourself and your desire to limit refined sugar from your lifestyle.
  • That’s right, you are going to limit refined sugar in your lifestyle because you know that sugar may be the number one culprit in lowering the quality of your life.
  • You will go as far as beginning to see sugar as almost lethal when ingested in your body.
  • You are becoming convinced that regardless of the situation, you will not allow yourself to overindulge in sweets.
  • Continue to develop this image of yourself feeling strong and having no desire for sugar.
  • With this image of yourself in your mind take two or three nice deep breaths.
  • With the first breath just feel the confidence welling up in your chest
  • With that next deep breath feel the psychological strength centering in your body.
  • One more deep breath as the excitement courses through your veins — the excitement of knowing you will dramatically decrease your intake of sugar.
  • You are feeling so good about your decision to limit that old-fashioned and embarrassing habit of eating sugar.
  • You feel sure that you very often will be able to avoid refined sugar.
  • You are becoming more and more confident that you have the strength to AVOID REFINED SUGAR on a regular basis.
  • To assist you in developing an aversion to sugar, you will be doing a rather difficult visualization.  This visualization will help you to gain the strength to almost completely eliminate refined sugar.

To be continued……HA!

To continue to part 2, click here.

Challenge Video #2

Hello People!

I have another installment in my video series: Challenge Videos.  This one is about eating as much of the colorful fruits and vegetables as you can swallow each day.  Usually, on most diet plans, vegetables (provided they aren’t root veggies) are considered “free” foods or the calories aren’t really counted because for the most part they don’t have too many per serving.  Fruits, do have some calories, but I don’t think it hurts a person to eat at least 2 pieces or servings a day.  It’s certainly better than having a bag of cheetos!

Consider these numbers:

  • 1 whole raw Onion = 40 cals
  • 1 medium Bell Pepper = 25 cals
  • 1/2 cup of Sauerkraut = 25 cals
  • 1/2 cup of cooked Spinach = 20 cals
  • 1/2 cup of raw sliced Summer Squash = 13 / cooked = 18
  • 10 sprigs of Watercress = 10 cals
  • 1 medium 5 oz. Tomato = 35 cals
  • 1/2 cup of Turnips = 15 cals / Greens = 15
  • 1 cup of Lettuce (all types) = 10 cals
  • 1/2 raw Mushrooms = 10 cals / cooked = 20
  • 1 medium raw Carrot = 33 cals
  • 3 oz. cooked Cauliflower = 15 cals
  • 1 stalk of Celery = 5 cals
  • 2 oz. of Fennel = 10 cals
  • 1 whole Cucumber = 40 cals
  • 1/2 cup of Collard Greens = 15 cals
  • 1/2 cup Green Beans or Snap Beans = 20 cals
  • 1/2 cup cooked Broccoli = 25 cals
  • 1/2 cup cooked Beets = 25 cals
  • 1 whole Eggplant, 4.5 oz. = 40 cals
  • 1/2 cup raw Jicama = 25 cals
  • 1/2 cup Kale = 20 cals

Shall I go on?  You can see from this list that the numbers are low and that’s for full servings.  Remember too, that when you cook something like mushrooms or squash, the water leeches out in the cooking process making the total weight smaller after cooking, so you can eat more of cooked vegetables than raw per serving.  See any you want to try tonight?

P.S. Sometimes, to add more vegetable and fruits into my diet, I make a green smoothie that I’ll show you how I make in another post.

New, Old Plans

Hello People!

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Sorry I took a long break from the blog here.  It wasn’t that I lost focus on losing weight or exercising or reading anything and everything about health and wellness.  Those things are always happening in my life no matter what.

In fact, I began a rigorous exercise program 3 months ago and have dramatically changed the shape of my body.  I mentioned somewhere on here before that I would take photos to show a before and after effect.  I was doing just that, but then I started to notice something that was irritating me…I was changing the shape of my body by building muscle, but I was not losing any weight (talk about stubborn!).  You may also be aware that too much rigorous exercise can increase one’s appetite, offsetting the fat loss one hopes to lose while sweating and dying to such routines. So, I’m keeping my workouts to under an hour and a half.  But usually, it’s just an hour a day.  My long 2.5 hour Sunday walk is out.  Walking is great, for beginners, but if you want to really see changes, you must up the ante.

So back to that non-weight-loss problem.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhh!  Full Charlie Brown style.  I have become one irritated person and it is time for the big guns.  I was really hoping that I could lose weight by eating a sensible number of calories, thus not lowering my metabolism and causing metabolic damage.  Let’s just say I have, during my absence, taken every road for that plan and no weight has been lost.  I have maintained weight, which is great and useful for later on, but I need to drop these 25 pounds now!!! I don’t want to wait any longer (not that I’ve been waiting, it’s been more like an exercise in futility for 3 arduous years).

Therefore, I have gone back to an old flame.  The one diet that I lost considerable amount of weight on about 13 years ago, is now in my possession.  Since reading the book that was written about it, I have realized that this particular diet is now defunct across the nation.  Not because it was a bad diet or had problems with it’s requirements; actually, I don’t know why.  The phone number listed for more information connects you to a “Win a Cruise for 2!!!” hotline.  A website does not exist.  The only thing that keeps popping up on Google is about a “Fat Chick on a Diet” complaining that because she wanted a bite of fudge at Christmas, she wasn’t going to go on the diet and sent all the materials back (LOSER!, or, not really).  One of the main important features of the diet is to have an accountability partner or leader help you weekly with your lessons and progress.  This person checks your food diary and goes over your workbook answers and discusses anything that may need to be addressed.  That is the best part because the accountability holds you, the dieter, responsible and makes you think twice about eating that “forbidden food.”  The diet is called PRISM.

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I will go into more detail about it in another post (I ordered from Amazon an incomplete workbook for phases 1 – 3, but there are 4), but for now I just wanted to inform you that along with my fitness regime I now have a rigorous diet plan.  It isn’t easy or flexible.  It does work though, and that is the bottom line.  For some of us, we need strict adherences.  Even a little bit517TAn-00PL of leeway opens the door to temptation which then leads to failure.  This has been my pattern and I want to end it as soon as possible.  For now, my accountability partner will be you all  🙂  and God.  I’ll share my weekly food journals with you on Thursdays from the previous week.

more to come….

Meal Snapshot: Black Bean Burger

Hello People!

I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I would show you a pix of a recent meal I had/made of a black bean burger recipe. Here is the final product.  It was paired with a salad with Ceasar dressing that I bought from the grocery store.  As mentioned in the earlier post, the taste was good, but the burger fell apart when eating making a giant mess.  Oh well, more recipes for me to try to perfect it!

A Yummy Lunch!

A Yummy Lunch!

Challenge Video #1

Foodie Friday:  Challenge Video #1: Sweet Beverages

Hello People!

I’ve got a video that I made for you today.  I hope you like it.  It was actually made a really long time ago, but I want to share it with you now.  I hope you find it inspirational and take me up on my challenge! (Actually, I need to take me up on my challenge and find that Chai Spice Yerba Mate tea I recommend and get off the coffee that I went back to drinking…Just one more cup!)

Speaking of videos, I’m at the end of my year for teaching at the college (where I work) and will soon have way too much idle time on my hands.  I was thinking of making a YouTube channel just for bfitafter40.  Would you like that?  I could make more videos in that genre that way since my normal channel is about a myriad of topics besides weight-loss and getting fit.  I’ll keep you informed.

P.S. I’m laughing at my hair in this video because it looks like I used a whole can of hairspray on it.  I think it was 120 degrees inside my house that day and didn’t want to look like a sweaty mess. Ha Ha!  I hope you enjoy.

Recipe Ideas

Foodie Friday: Recipe Ideas to Spice It Up!

Hello People,

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I wanted to share a practice that I use in regards to recipes.  I LOVE cookbooks, and that is an understatement, and I love trying new recipes as often as I change clothes.  What can I say? I just get bored eating the same old thing day-in and day-out.  If a recipe really jumps off the page and is beyond amazing, I will cook it again and keep it in my repertoire of food that is really good when I want to eat something I know for a fact is delicious or want impress someone else with my amazing cooking skills (sly fox!).

My system for keeping track of how a recipe fared in my kitchen and stomach is by using check _MG_0918style grading marks.  A check + (plus) means that the recipe was out of the ball park good and will definitely be made again (any recipe I’ve shared on here, the blog, has received that marking); a plain  check by itself indicates that the recipe tasted so-so or had some issues in preparation or difficulties in ingredients.  I may or may not prepare that dish again depending on it’s problems.  If it was a simple matter of overcooking or the wrong proportions of ingredients, it may take more experimenting to decide ultimately; a check – (minus) means that the recipe was a real fail and either is thrown away if it came from a magazine or clearly marked to_MG_0923 ignore if I come across it again in a book.  I place these checks on top of the recipe in bold black ink so that I can see it clearly (pencil can fade or get erased) when thumbing through the book the next time I’m hunting down new recipes.

I also add personal notes in regards to what I think the problems were, what extra ingredients I _MG_0920added/took out, how it didn’t work well halved/doubled, cooking temperature problems, and generally what I thought about how it tasted.  If the recipe was delicious_MG_0919 with the additions I made, then I keep them for the next time I make the dish.  I also know that I can manipulate the recipe for further tweaking if I want too later.

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At one point, I sat down with 4 or 5 five of my favorite cookbooks (books that I’ve got a lot of check pluses in!) and wrote down on a paper recipes from those books, under different headings, that I must try and that would be appropriate for clean eating and/or weight loss.  On that list I cross off the one’s that I’ve cooked and continue on the list when I want to try something new.  I found recipes for all types of meals: dinners, lunches, salads, soups, etc.  Each one of these recipes I “tasted” in my mind before choosing them for the list thinking that they would probably end up as check pluses eventually.  Most do, some don’t. The picture in tomorrow’s post is the result of one such recipe that only gets a plain check from me (Black Bean Burgers).  The taste was good, but the burger fell apart and was a mess.  Tricky to cook too.  Also, the recipe asked for no seasoning.  I found that extremely odd.  Of course, I added my own.  One thing I should have added to this list, is the page numbers that I found these recipes on.  I can just as easily look in the Index for them because the book is indicated (by abbreviation), however, I’m just lazy.

Do you have any ways of remembering how you liked or didn’t like a recipe?  I have so many recipes in books and torn out sheets/cards it’s hard to keep track of.  Perhaps my method can give some of you ideas if you share in my: I-have-too-many-cookbooks “problem.”

Flavor Boosters

Foodie Friday: Boost the Flavor in Your Food

Sorry for my brief absence.  One of my younger sisters just got diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and my family and I have been dealing with that.  She is only 38 and it is such a blow to all of us.  This is in addition to my other younger sister who was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer when she was 29.  I have often felt that there is a bit of an estrogen dominance on the maternal side of the family.  We, women of the family, suffer from terrible hormonal imbalances in different forms.  All I can advise to you reader, is, get yourself checked for illness/cancer/hereditary diseases/etc., on a regular basis.

Ice Cube Yumminess

Today I wanted to share a quick tidbit with you all than can help disperse of some almost used up lemons, limes and the like that are bumming around in your refrigerator.  I often make what I call “flavor boosters” in ice trays.  They can be used in a myriad of ways, like sauces, smoothies, pasta dishes and so forth.  Here’s what you need:

  •  Ice cube trays (I have two non-stick ones)
  • Leftover juice, pesto sauce, tomato paste, coffee, etc.
  • Patience and time

So, you just fill the tray with whatever you have lying about and freeze these up.  Pop them out when they are set and put them in baggies to store in the freezer indefinitely.

I like to use the coffee cubes in protein shakes.  The lemon juice I can use in sauces for chicken or fish.  Pesto is good on anything. Just go CRAZY! No, not really.  The beauty is, I don’t have to open a whole jar or bottle or brew up a whole pot of these flavor boosters when I only need a small amount.  If you have ever needed just a tablespoon of tomato paste, but to get it you had to open an entire can, then let the rest spoil, you are able to understand how convenient this can be.  It may be more trouble for some, but I only see it as a win-win.

Note: I also freeze leftover wine, but it doesn’t completely freeze (alcohol doesn’t freeze, basic science – blah, blah), and so it just turns to slush making it not-so-neat in the ice-cube trays.  Therefore, with wine that’s left in the bottle that doesn’t quite make a full glass, dump it into a sealable plastic baggie or glass container like an empty jar, then toss into freezer.  When needed, scoop out the appropriate amount with a spoon/fork for your recipe.

I hope this proves useful to you!  Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

Resolutions 2014

Inspirational Sunday: New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

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Hello People!

Happy New Year as well.  It is indeed a new year, a fresh start for those of us who like turning a new page. Last year I posted my resolutions and I must say that I accomplished about 3/4 of them to great success!*  You can read about it HERE.  The other fourth, I attempted, but for one reason or another, were not completely accomplished; hence my 7 pounds out of a hopeful 28 pounds loss.  Not a total fail, but not completely done with. My list below is a basic outline of what I hope to “do” in 2014.  I left it a bit general for you reader, but rest assured, I have them written down in great detail and posted in plain view for me to see and think about each day.

This year, my plans that weren’t accomplished are more narrowed down to be more specific.  In other words, just saying “I want to lose 28 pounds this year,” I have made the job more of a weekly task to work on gradually with actual numbers and a plan.  More on that later.

I want to discuss, briefly I hope, the fact that even though my best-laid-plans of 2013 weren’t completely conquered, there were so many important things that I realized about myself that are important to point out.  Perhaps you also realized things about yourself through my journey.  Plans are good, but growth is the most important thing to me.  Becoming a better version of myself is always number one on the list.  So here they are itemized in no particular order of discovery or importance:

  1. I am gluten intolerant.  Well, this certainly cuts down on a lot of once available calories for me.  That’s been the plus side.  It is still easy to overeat (I’m baking my gluten-free birthday cake as I write this!), but regardless, this will be something I will have to contend with for the rest of my life.
  2. Lots of extraneous exercise will not help me to lose weight. You may remember my posts about marathoning and walking for hours upon hours only to gain weight.  I called it the “marathon effect.”  Cardio, strength training, and stretching are great in moderation, but are only 15% of the equation in losing weight…DAMN!
  3. Proper macronutrient ratio’s help me feel full.  I’m a person who needs equal parts of complex carbo’s to protein with some fat.  Too little of carb or protein and I am toast.
  4. Sugar is my enemy and creates binging problems.  This one sucks.  I love sugar.  But, it is a completely useless and un-needed “food.”  It triggers my blood sugar to rise and drop, sometimes to dangerous levels and then makes me frantic to eat the first thing I see…and then keep eating.  I turn into one of those spring caterpillars before they go into the cocoon.
  5. Binging can be dealt with.  Not completely done with this one yet.  The devil on my shoulder will always be there.  But I can learn to master those temptations by following the former two discoveries listed above.  Most of all, riding out the wave of greed, and always being prepared if it does strike, is key for me.

And now for the Resolutions:

  • Find a home church to meet new people, find ways to socialize and commune with like believers. (I am protestant Christian, if you didn’t know)
  • Find the best Baked Beans recipe. (I know that may sound weird, but I LOVE them)
  • Financial Responsibility (this is more detailed, but that’s all I’m going to list here)
  • Lose 4 pounds a month (this is also more detailed, but I’ll write more about it later)
  • Visit 5 museums
  • Attend 5 Art Openings
  • Make 5 artworks (more specifically written down, but again…)
  • Cook through the cookbook How to Eat by Nigella Lawson (sort of a Julie & Julia scenario)
  • Improve romantic social life (not going to give you more on this, but I have a plan)
  • Make a “Garden of Envy” (I’ll take photos all through the year for you to prove it!)

I wish you all the best if you also have set goals for yourself.  It is easy to give up and quit.  But then nothing ever changes.  If it isn’t working, what if you re-work the goal?  Good Luck!

* I successfully accomplished goals #3,4,5,6 & 7

The Secret Life of a Binger

Foodie Friday: The Secret Life of a Binger

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Hello People,

This is an awkward post. Not gonna lie.  One that I don’t want to post about, or rather, have been putting off because it is so difficult to talk about.  I suppose that is because it is personal and I don’t like airing all of my issues to the wind.  Maintaining that certain “air of mystery” has been my modus operandi for most of my life.  But, that isn’t always the best way to go.  Admitting to problems is the first step to conquering them.

Binging: what is it?  Plainly, it is eating lots of food, usually in secret (alone), till one cannot eat anymore.  At some point the mechanism for feeling full actually shuts off and you, or rather I, can’t tell if I am full or not.  The only thing that matters is tasting food, feeling food in the mouth, the smells & textures and the sheer joy of not caring about what I am eating.

So much of my life is about watching what I eat.  It has become a real chore to think about.  Strict low_calorie_food_rmn4edisciplines rule my eating habits such as:  I can only eat so many calories; I cannot eat too much sugar or carbs; I cannot drink alcohol; I must eat vast quantities of green leafy vegetables when all I want are potatoes; and so on. These rules tend to wear on me after a while (sometimes “a while” varies from 2 weeks to 2 days). Remember, I have been dieting since I was 15 and now am 41.  Just once,  I would like to eat what I want or at least not worry about the calories, fat, sugar, starch, etc, etc.  Then it just explodes into an eating frenzy.

It may not start out intentionally wanting to binge.  In fact, when I am in the midst of it, I am not thinking “I’m binging and LOVING IT!!!”  It starts with wanting something off the diet – real bad, knowing that I cannot have whatever that is today because I’ve already had enough or it just isn’t a part of the plan.  Then, I have a bit of that delight.  Then I have a little more.  Then….it’s gone.  ThenI_Ate_TOO_Much I assume that since I ate that “bad” thing, I might as well just keep going because I broke my diet. After about an hour or so, many things have been eaten and some entire packages of previously unopened food have been demolished and the empty containers have been thrown away.

Then, for whatever reason but not the feeling of fullness, I stop.  Eating this much takes my digestive system a long time to process.  My sleep is often terrible, if I do this in the evening right before bed.  I feel like a skunk has crawled up into my gut and died.  My abdomen is bloated and I may even feel a bit sick.  It’s awful and yes, I do feel remorse after about 8 hours have passed.

I don’t have any special radical remedy like 6 hours of intense exercise or purging or being anorexic images-7the next day.  Nope, I just binge and that’s where it ends.  My mom says it’s being half bulimic.  We just don’t throw up.  Yes, she has this problem too.  It has become the bane of my existence.  I want to dump this enemy like no other.

I know that it is intensely psychological.  It is also hormonally driven and a learned behavior.  It is also a habit that has become familiar like an old pair of shoes.  But I’ve been giving it some thought.  It needs to go.  I don’t completely know how, but it does.  I’ve told myself in the past, many times over, to stop doing it.  But it returns.  However, it is getting better and better and less and less frequent over time, meaning that I am learning how to control the issue.  The last time, I stopped eating halfway through the cycle and threw the diet saboteur I was currently chewing on in the outside garbage can.  I knew that I wouldn’t fish it out because that can has had maggots in it and I won’t be eating anything that was near a maggot.  (ucckkk! I can’t believe I put the “m” word in one of my blogs! EWWW!!!)

Most of my help with over-coming binging has been through the Inside-Out Weight Loss podcast.  Rene Stephens is very gentle in understanding this issue (she is a licensed therapist) and has many tips

The Butterfly Logo = Transformation

The Butterfly Logo = Transformation

on binge recovery.  One strategy is feeling the effects of the binge before the frenzy begins.  If the mind can think ahead of what will befall them once the damage is done, then one may not want to venture down the binge path.  This is difficult because in the act of binging (and right before), the mind almost glazes over and the feeling of eating is euphoric like being on a drug.  I actually prefer this feeling to being buzzed on alcohol.  Stopping this feeling can be almost impossible.  This is something that I am still working on, and successfully, but it is no where near cured.  Perhaps in the future, I can post again on my progress and insights.  It is a nasty little habit, one that I’m sure has kept me at my weight for these 26 years.  Getting this devil off my shoulder will free me to become the healthy-weight person I really long to be.

So…….yeah.  That’s my story on this particular bad nemesis.  I can’t be the only one struggling with this.  Do you or someone you love?  What is your best advice?