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  • "Every great accomplishment begins with the decision to TRY!"

    "People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost." --H. Jackson Brown

    "Decide what you want; decide what you're willing to exchange for it; establish your priorities, and go to work." --H.L. Hunt

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    Monday, November 20, 2006



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    Its better (and skinnier!) than ever.




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    By Blogger zwmmks, at 12:44 PM  

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    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    Ice (Cream) Follies

    A couple of days ago I went to a different supermarket than usual, and when they didn’t have the brand of non-fat ice cream bars that I like, I just bought the one they did have, instead. When I got home and had one, I was disappointed. It just didn’t taste very good. I felt the same when I had another one, later on.

    Then yesterday Devin was looking in the freezer and asked “Can I have one of these ice cream bars” and the first thing out of my mouth was “Sure, but they’re not very good.” He took one anyway, and after he finished it he said “that really tasted funny.”

    It was only then that I realized that I just had to throw these things out. Why would I force myself to keep eating something that I didn’t like? Especially when I wouldn’t even want someone I care for to have to eat them, either?

    Now, this is not just a dilemma for overeaters like myself. Because when I went out and got the GOOD ice cream and Devin saw me throwing out the “funny” stuff he said “oh, don’t throw those out! I’ll eat them.” But I turned and said to him “In this household, we only eat what we like.”

    And as for the starving children? Well, we just bought them a goat .


    Sometimes throwing food away is the most appropriate thing to do with it. It is not a sin to send it back to the earth without putting it through our bodies.

    By Anonymous Richard, at 11:48 PM  

    I have a devil of a time throwing food out, too. Since reading this blog, I have become much better at it, but I STILL occasionally find myself eating stuff I don't really like rather than throwing it out (especially if it was expensive!)

    I host Thanksgiving each year, and this year, I am committed to throwing out the (fattening) foods that others won't take home in a doggie bag. The plan is to dump it all in the garbage Thanksgiving night, and never look back. It is my promise to myself that this will be the first Thanksgiving in YEARS where I WILL NOT have assorted pies with ice cream for breakfast on Friday morning!!!!

    By Anonymous jadelaz, at 8:23 AM  

    I can so relate to this issue! In fact, right now in my cupboard are some jars of guava jam that I made two or three years ago that came out completely scorched and inedible (even destroyed the pan used to make the jam). I'm not going to eat them, my partner isn't going to eat them, and I'm sure not going to give them to anyone else (I would hate for anyone to think I was that bad a cook). Yet still they sit there. How many more years will it be before I can throw them out?

    The problem is compounded because my partner absolutely hates to throw out food and makes me feel guilty about it. Yet he also absolutely won't eat anything that he doesn't like. Because of this, it is not unusual for him to try to pawn off food on me. He doesn't want to eat it but can't bear to throw it out, so he tries to get me to eat it. In the past I would always eat it, but now I've taken to reminding him that I'm not the garbage disposal. I'm thinking of having t-shirts printed up ;)

    By Anonymous Barbara, at 10:16 AM  

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    Saturday, November 18, 2006

    Say it loud

    According to the dictionary, the word “pride” can denote either “excessive” self-regard *OR* “proper” self-esteem! What a wonderful reflection of the confusion we face over figuring out the “best” way to feel about ourselves. I think when my parents raised me to be wary of pride, they were hoping to instill the values of humility and graciousness. Only inadvertently did they also subtly lead me to believe that it was NEVER proper to feel pleased with myself.

    As someone concerned about my health, my weight and, yes, my looks, its not been easy for me to adopt a comfortable sense of pride about my progress. For example, I like wearing well-tailored clothes and I like how I look in the mirror. But I do worry that I may cross the line into vanity.

    Still, I find that in order to be mentally healthy and stable, I must feel positive thoughts about who I am as a person, the things I say and do, and the interactions I have with others. Its not enough to just hope that I’m being “good.” Because when I slip into the habit of self-criticism, my internal voice can be particularly harsh and demanding.

    When I got home from leading two meetings this morning, Devin asked me how it went --in that way that we ask things as a social convention (i.e. Hi, how are you?). But as I trotted out my “fine, thanks” response, I realized that in reality, this morning was much more than “fine.”

    I woke up tired, ran late in picking up my coworker, arrived at the site unprepared, and without benefit of caffeine or even a glass of water, I stepped up to the occasion and put on my “happy face.” In just minutes, as people streamed through the door, I was greeting them and pulling from god-only-knows-where the energy and enthusiasm to be present in the moment with each one. For the next four hours, I facilitated two meetings with a staff of five and a total of about 120 people. It was fun and interesting not only for me personally, but the participants laughed and clapped and said tons of great things, as well. I even had a few people stop by to speak to me personally about the encouragement I’ve given them as they face the changes they are trying to make.

    Even writing that short paragraph I feel a little embarrassed – afraid of blowing my own horn, bragging, or just seeming arrogant.

    But the fact is, I’m pretty good at what I do, and if I can’t take pride in that skill, how could that possibly be a benefit? Considering the challenges involved in my life lately (e.g. not enough sleep, too little time to do things, stress from the holiday season) I have a feeling that any opportunity for me to take pride in myself and in my accomplishments can only be a good thing.

    The reason all of this is important to me is that the warm glow and positive sensation that I get from “a job well done” can be just as potent as the immediate gratification and pleasure I derive from scarfing down a brownie. And I think those times when I don’t allow myself to feel the former are precisely the times I end up seeking out the latter.

    So with all deference to my parents and societal norms regarding humility and manners, I’ve got to be able to fully explore and experience my own sense of pride and happiness at the talents I have and the accomplishments I’m able to achieve. Sure, arrogance and haughtiness are unbecoming in a person, but a sound, healthy self-respect and an acknowledgement of one’s own talents is critically important to long term mental and physical health.

    So, how was my morning? Outrageous! Amazing! Fantastic!


    You are also very good at what you do here, if that counts. Why not take pride? The thought and effort you put in is apparent, and we all appreciate quality.
    Several times in this blog you have mentioned how much effort it takes to maintain your present hard-won level of fitness, and I have been thinking about this. the thing is, you are in TOP FORM, which would only be natural for like, athletes, or soldiers, or other people who depend on their physical bodies for survival. You aren't really 'doing' anything with all your strength and fitness, so it has to be sort of artifically maintained by sheer willpower, which has to be exhausting over the long haul. --Which isn't to say it isn't a worthwhile endeavor. Or actually, awesome, in the true sense of that word.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:53 AM  

    Jonathan, You have many, many reasons to be proud of yourself. I am pleased to hear this Positive Self Talking from you. You deserve nothing but the best.

    By Anonymous Richard, at 11:28 AM  

    Thanks for the reminder. Pride in one's self is a good thing. My husband calls me "Miss Cocky" when I toot my horn. Thankfully, I have friends who don't feel threatened by my changes. Toot your horn Jonathan, if anyone deserves to, you do.

    By Anonymous Kristi, at 12:42 PM  

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    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Quality Control

    Throughout my life, many emotions triggered an impulse to overeat. Whenever the world was difficult, or scary, or boring (or even exciting and happy) I felt I had no power over the events taking place, but I did have control over the selecting and eating of food. When I was single I often would bury my sorrows in ice cream after a bad date. Maybe I couldn't find Mr. Right, but I could always find the supermarket. When my company was tanking in the dot-com boom there was nothing I could do to boost the economy, but I always had enough money to buy more chocolate muffins or maple scones. When my Father became ill and died, there was no way I could interact coherently with my family members, but I could scarf down cookies by the dozen.

    In other words, when the world was chaos, food was the one thing I could “control.”

    I thought of all this today as I stood at the bicycle repair shop. The first place I went this morning told me there was a TEN DAY waiting list for repairs! At the next shop, they would fix it right away, but the staff was so vile and rude that I was completely taken aback. Still, I felt I had no choice. I needed the bike, which gives me so much freedom and flexibility and, well, a sense of control. And all I had to do was put up with their rudeness and fork over some cash to get it back. Fortunately they did good work -- trued up the wheels, refastened a few bolts and realigned the derailleur-- and I was out of there in less than half an hour.

    Afterwards while I was driving home so I could drop off my car, I thought about experiences in the past when I had stuffed down emotions of one sort of another, and then used food to keep the lid sealed. If anything is different about my life now, its that my strongest impulse was not to stop at a donut shop or the supermarket. Instead I acknowledged my feelings, thought about my ability to act differently in such situations in the future, and then got on with my day.

    In fact, after parking my car. I pulled my bike out of the back and rode straight (uphill!) to the gym. Because I know that working out actually has a more restorative feel to me than food. When I'm wound up and need physical release, exercise is almost always something that will bring me back to the ground. Food just tends to set me off.

    All of this is not to say that I've solved all of my emotional coping issues and am now fully self-actualized and food-frenzy-free. But its nice to know that, at least on some occasions, my instincts are now healthier and give me greater satisfaction.

    There’s nothing like the feeling of being in control.


    Kudos to you for choosing what grounds you in favor of what sets you off. It's not always comfortable or fun to make the better decision, and the rewards are not usually as visceral, but I'm throwing my hat in your ring. Tonight, the man who deserves the support, gets it.

    By Blogger Nan, at 9:36 PM  

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    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Choose Life

    As I was riding my bike home from my night course tonight, thinking about what would be a “bloggable” subject, I decided I might write a little something about choices. Because there are so many times in life where I’ve felt I was in an eating situation where I didn’t have any choices (other than eat/not eat). And for the most part, those “all or nothing choices” stem from a lack of empowerment I feel, or else a sense of obligation.

    But many of the “choices” we face are all in our heads. I chose to go to work this morning because I choose to get paid. I choose to feel stressed out because I believe that work deadlines have some kind of actual meaning. I choose the things I want to believe in, think about, or do. And yet no one is truly affected.

    The earth turns on its axis. The wind rustles in the trees. The fog rolls in off the ocean. No matter that the contract papers I thought I had put to bed ended up blowing up in a mass of paperwork today at the office. My reaction to all of that was about choices.

    It was at that moment that, riding the wrong way on a one way street in the dark (I had a helmet, reflective vest, and several flashing lights) I was struck by a car.

    That was very real. It was tangible and scary and bent the hell out of my derailleur.

    So as I walked home with a bent bike and a bruised ego (but healthy body), I realized that some choices are real (i.e. driving the wrong way on a one way street) and easy to change. Choices about how we think about ourselves (i.e. I have to eat this or my host will think I’m rude) tend to have less tangible results and are therefore much harder.

    This holiday season, because I tend to be challenged by the parties and social situations, one of my goals is to focus on feeling empowered. To believe in my ability to make choices. There will be disappointed friends, insulted hosts, and disgruntled coworkers as I choose to eat healthy and maintain my weight instead of gaining.

    I’ve recently heard that the host of a gourmet dinner party I attended two weeks ago was offended that I hardly ate anything he prepared. I believe in his right to choose to feel that way. And I believe in my right not to put things into my body when I don’t feel like it.

    Maybe it’ll take me a while to fully absorb the lesson. But tonight I had a good reminder that some choices are very real (i.e. bad driving ) and some choices are just in our heads. I think I need to draw the difference and act accordingly.

    Wish me luck.


    I have a single brother-in-law coming to spend the holidays with my family.

    I sent him a note and said

    "this (listing) is what we usually have on hand to eat - what else do you need/want? - be specific brands/flavors/sizes. What else do you need? Access to a gym? A fan in the corner for white noise? A robe? A bike?"

    He is single - used to living alone - coming to stay with us - taking time off work and paying to fly across the country to stay with the 5 of us - for the holidays - he is staying for over a week.

    We are thrilled - we haven't seen him since we all went on vacation together the summer before last.

    By Blogger Vickie, at 10:41 PM  

    Glad you weren't hurt. As someone who drives in the middle of the night - 365 days a year (high school son has paper route) - bikers and joggers ALWAYS think they are much more visible than they actually are.

    GOing into traffic means that you shorten the distance very quickly -

    I have never hit anyone - but I have gotten out and yelled/educated MANY a time.

    By Blogger Vickie, at 10:43 PM  

    Jonathan, I do wish you luck. You inspire me to be stronger and more assertive about what I want and need to eat healhy and feel good about it. The realization that it is the other's choice to react negatively to our eating is increcibly empowering. You can do it, and watching you do it convinces me that I can do it too. So, as always, thank you!

    By Anonymous Richard, at 11:18 PM  

    Let the host of Gourmet Night be offended! Who does he think he is?
    A chef at a fancy NYC eatery once got offended because I did not clean my plate. I never ate there again.
    Food police are everywhere (like in the song The Dream Police) ....They don't get paid to take vacations or leave me alone... and they aren't inside my head, they are in their kitchens cooking.

    By Anonymous stretchy, at 11:30 PM  

    Glad you're okay, Jonathan. I realized you must be, as you were, after all, writing a blog post. But when you said you were "hit by a car," I felt a bit of a lurch in my gut. Be careful ... it's a jungle out there!

    By Blogger Debbi, at 3:07 AM  

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    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Deviant Behavior

    For the last couple of months at work I’ve been overseeing the development and awarding of a couple of large contracts for a PR program that I’m running. Since I work for the state government, the rules and procedures are hideous and annoying. Sometimes I don’t see why anyone bothers to bid!

    But anyway, when I was sifting through the paperwork for the winner of a bid earlier this week, I discovered some typographical areas in a couple of places. Although it didn’t bother me, personally, I had visions of being taken to court. So I (reluctantly) called in the heavy from the contracts department to discuss the issue with him.

    Much to my relief, after a thorough examination of the documents, we were able to classify the typos as an “immaterial deviation.” Which is to say, that six weeks of hard work getting this put together was NOT all in vain.

    And if you’re thinking “well, a professional firm wouldn’t have made ANY mistakes on a bid” let me just say that the proposal guidelines that I put together were 47 pages long. Single spaced.

    So me this was snatching victory from the potential jaws of defeat.

    By the same token, my morning didn’t start off too well today. Devin and I had a tense, recurring and seemingly unresolvable relationship “discussion” last night and we both went to bed feeling exasperated.

    This morning, even after running with the dog and a strong cup of coffee, I pretty much stomped around the house while getting ready for work and then heading out to the office. And when I got there some crackers in my drawer called my name and I had a nice little pity party.

    By 10 a.m. I was feeling morose and angry and in that “throw in the towel” frame of mind. Instead, I e-mailed some friends, and then suddenly from all sides I was getting a lot of support and commiseration. God bless the internet.

    So right then and there I decided that this morning’s food fest was just an “immaterial deviation” from the rest of my day, and I got right back on plan. I wiped the slate clean, gave myself permission to be imperfect, and started all over.

    And, just like my contract at work, things continued to move forward, just the way I’d hoped.

    Who’d have thought I’d ever gain wisdom and insight from the Department of General Services contracting guidelines! But I’ll take inspiration wherever I can get it.


    You've been blue, you've been frustrated, and you've been angry. I've been thinking about you and I'm sure everyone else who visits here has too. Not knowing what to say, just that I want you to feel better, get plenty of sleep & water, and know it will work out.

    By Anonymous Stretch, at 4:38 AM  

    What a magnificent concept -- "immaterial deviation." I feel better already! As always, Jonathan, you inform, inspire, and help me, all of us, along this difficult but rewarding journey.

    By Anonymous Richard, at 7:42 AM  

    I hate to nitpick, but I'm a government worker too and can't help myself. When you referred to "typographical areas", did you mean "typographical errors"?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:42 PM  

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    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Am I blue

    Yesterday was what my old college German professor used to call a “blue Monday.” (Actually, I’m not sure if that’s an real German expression or not, she was a little kooky.). It might have been the change in the weather, which turned dark, grey, windy and very, very wet. It might have been the fact that at work I had three meetings scheduled simultaneously and a couple of unexpected deadlines. Or it might have been my latent annoyance at Devin, who has refused to settle on a plan for our Thanksgiving break.

    Whatever the cause, my mood was swinging like the branches of a tree in a storm. At times I felt good and competent, handling things well, and at times I was just depressed, angry and frustrated. Funny, I always used to think that if I were thin and healthy, all of these feelings would just vanish!

    Fortunately, I didn’t resort to my age old mood stabilizer – junk food. I only had healthy food at my desk (an apple, some fat free popcorn, and a 100-calorie snack). And because I was busy, I didn’t have time to dig around for anything else. Its amazing that when I can get past that initial impulse, its relatively obvious that chowing down on a bag of chips isn’t going to solve anything. (It just never seems to stop being my FIRST impulse …)

    But the thing that really worked for me was, in the midst of a hectic day, dropping everything and dashing to the gym for a 45 minute workout (on my bike, in the pouring rain). It’s truly amazing the extent to which a relatively short workout can change things around. I arrived at the gym tense, melancholy and exhausted.

    I left feeling rejuvenated, reinvigorated and refreshed.

    The rest of my day was a little bit more of the same craziness. After finishing up *almost* all of my work, I dashed out of the office to go home (on my bike in the pouring rain) so I could change clothes and get to my part time job. Once there, it was a whirlwind of activity until the last customer was out the door and I could finally sit down and take a deep breath.

    Now I would LOVE to say that at this point I came home, had a sensible meal and went to bed. And that would *almost* be true. And it certainly was my plan.

    What I, in fact, did was to have a sensible and healthy meal …. and then I popped over to Devin’s snack cabinet for a long, unplanned and completely unhealthy visit. It wasn’t a full-on binge, thank goodness. Just a lot more sweet crackers than I needed, washed down with a few chips and a piece of chocolate.

    And then, at long last, I went to bed.


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