Thursday, December 29, 2011

Channeling My "Pisstivity" - Thanks Dolvett!

You've just got to love it when a word clicks with you.

It's even better when this is a recently made up word. I've heard it a couple of times during this past season of Biggest Loser from new trainer Dolvett Quince, but it really hit home with me when the Thanksgiving special re-aired two nights ago. (Probably because someone had raised my pisstivity level...Ha ha)

"Pisstivity" is listed in the Urban Dictionary pertaining to the degree or level at which you are ticked off at someone or something. While I like that definition, I prefer to think of it another way.

To me, pisstivity is a state of being, in which you channel any frustration, anger, or other trying emotions into doing something positive. You don't sit around just being mad or letting things get to you. You do something constructive with your feelings and turn them into a blessing.

In Dolvett's case, he has his contestants and clients work out their pisstivity in the gym. I have discovered that this really does work. The first spin class after being in my recent upsetting situation was the best ride I'd ever had. Every workout since has gone to another level. I channel what was said to me about how I'd never reach my goals (in fitness AND in life) into extra motivation and pushing myself even harder. And I feel so much better both body and spirit!

There are also other ways to channel your pisstivity. If someone tells you that you won't get anywhere with your chosen career, find ways to work harder or smarter and set better goals for yourself. There's nothing like having somebody tell you that you can't do something to motivate you to prove them wrong. (Of course, that shouldn't be your sole motivation - there are many reasons to work toward your goals!) If you're angry about the economy and you have the resources, do something to help others who are struggling, just like the people who paid off all of those layaway accounts this Christmas for families in a rough financial spot. Even if you can only afford to do a little bit, it still helps. If you feel for people with cancer or other illnesses, help raise money for a cure. Or take some time to read to sick children or do chores for someone who is unable because of illness.

Channel your emotions into doing something good for yourself or others. That's the highest form of pissitivity.

Pissed + Positivity = Pisstivity Thank you Dolvett!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Even In The Darkness, There Is Always Light

Dealing with human emotions, yet trying to stay positive and rising above... I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. You probably struggle with this as well.

If you read my "positive/not perfect" post last week, then you know I've been dealing with a problem relationship that I had to finally let go in order to save my sanity and be who God created me to be. In the meantime, I've lost a couple more friends - at least people I thought were my friends. I thought it might happen since these are people who've known the person I had trouble with for a lot longer than they've known me, and I'm sure their loyalties lie with her. Not only is that understandable, but I also know they're not getting the whole story by only hearing what she tells them. They haven't asked me about the situation so they are only hearing the side of their longtime friend...but I also don't want to drag them into what should be only between me and her. That's not fair to them to have to take sides. And even though it appears they've immediately taken her side, at least I didn't try to make them choose. I can be proud of the fact that I didn't drag other people into it. There may be more fallout to come, but I will stand strong.

Even though I understand what they did, it still stinks - and it still hurts. But one thing I do know is that this is out of my control. I'm not going to beg people for their friendship when it's obvious they didn't value the relationship in the first place. I'm better than that. Once again, this does not mean I'm perfect...far from it. But real friends forgive each other for the occasional bad day or saying something that didn't come across quite the way they meant it. I don't mean those who continally put you down or constantly treat you like you're an idiot for doing what's right for your life if it isn't exactly like their own lives. I'm talking about those who always try to be a real friend but when you occasionally slip up like human beings do, they still support you because they love you. People who claim to be our friends but attack or abandon us without first trying to understand or care are not the kind of friends we need. In fact, that is NOT real friendship - so as much as it hurts, be grateful for the blessings that did come out of the situation and move on.

This is what I've been trying to do for the last few days. This "friend" may think she ruined my holidays (or at least probably hoped she did), but it turns out to be the opposite. In discovering these surface friendships, I appreciate the real ones that much more. Spending time with family and true friends is even sweeter because I can see, hear, and feel the difference with complete clarity. Plus - seeing how NOT to act helps me in turn to be a better friend to others.

God gave me an important gift this Christmas. He gave me the opportunity to see what is real and what is not. He gave me the strength to stand up for myself and stop taking all of the digs and discouragement and move away from that negativity. And He gave me the ability to see what is important in both friendship and life. That can't be wrapped and placed under the tree. Besides, it's such an incredibly large and amazing gift that it can't be contained to a small space. It's the gift that will keep on giving...not only to me but to anyone I can pass it on to. God means for this gift to be shared. His light will permeate through any darkness you may encounter!

This holiday season, may you receive the gift of true friendship and unconditional love from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and may you spread that gift far and wide to make the world a better place.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

Since we will all be spending the next couple of days with our family and friends, I want to take the opportunity now to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. Thank you to everyone for joining me on this journey....I really appreciate you and can't wait to share more of my journey well into 2012 and beyond.

May you and your loved ones be blessed this Christmas! xoxoxo

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Positive Does Not Mean Perfect - Food For Thought

I've had some rough situations happen in the last few days. I admit these things threw me for a loop for a little while...but I will not let them keep me down.

I won't go into great detail about these, because I don't like to complain to everyone or dwell on negative things. I prefer to move forward, pray, and do what I can to help the situation. But I do want to address one of these things because some of you may have the same problem.

I discovered that someone in my life (a supposed friend) expected me to be perfect. I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised. This person constantly complains and feels she is always right. She does have good qualities as well, so I always bit my tongue so as not to upset her. (Not always easy to do.) I always felt that I was walking around on eggshells to save our friendship...even though it caused me extra stress, I really tried.

The other day I gently tried to let her know that she should be thankful for what she does have and count the blessings in her life. It was an attempt to improve her frame of mind. I certainly thought I was being gentle, as I hate confrontation and avoid it if I can help it. Of course, she still took it the wrong way. I received a scathing message from her going into great detail about my many supposed faults (I do have faults, but this stuff was really exaggerating and petty) and how I'm basically an awful person because I don't do everything in my life exactly the way she does. (Wouldn't the world be boring if we all did everything alike? What works for one person may not be right for another.) I was also told that I was a "fake" because I claim to be a positive person yet dared to get a little upset with her. According to her, my positivity meant that I could never have a bad day or else I was fake. (Yet somehow it was OK for her to complain all the time.) And because of all that was "wrong" with me, she was going to have to seriously re-evaluate our friendship.

I now realize that she takes almost everything the wrong way, but at the time it really hurt. I attempted to defend myself, which only led to more bashing from her. I sent off one last message in attempt to clear things up, and apologized if she took what I'd said the wrong way because it was only meant to be helpful. I also let her know that I would not respond anymore if she kept attacking me, because I wasn't going to keep that unhealthy cycle going.

I received yet another message berating me, so I kept my word. I did not respond to her. I deleted all of the messages so I wouldn't have to stress out over it anymore. I also blocked her on social media sites, which is where she was attacking me. I knew it wasn't going to stop, because she can never let anything go. I do know her in real life but don't see her often.

The point of this is - do we expect each of our friends to be perfect? Or do we even expect ourselves to be perfect? We are all human, so none of us are going to be. There is only One who is perfect. And He is always here to help us through our imperfections. Trying to stay positive in this world is essential, or else we'd all lose our minds. Being positive doesn't mean we won't have our human moments or bad means that we will not let the rotten stuff keep us down and we strive to make things better. It means if we fall, we pick ourselves back up instead of wallowing in self-pity. It's just like our fitness efforts: do not beat yourself up for not being perfect....just move on and work harder!

A lot of comtemplation and prayer took place before I wrote this post. I believe God wants me to help others in this type of situation so they know they are loved, should not take abuse from others, and should stand up for themselves if necessary. God always finds a way to send me a message - through a song, quote, or thoughtful post from others. Yesterday was no exception. Just at the moment I was feeling my lowest, I saw one message about pressing on and staying the course while keeping our integrity. Then a little later I saw one that really resonated...about using the irritations from others and in life to polish us and make us better people. I immediately felt better and knew I'd done the right thing.

I pray that my post here helps you in some way as well. God uses all of us to help each other. That means even the people who try discourage you or tear you down. Don't let them get to you or stop you from being who you are meant to be. Even though we're not perfect, picking ourselves up and staying as positive as possible goes a long way.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guac-in' Around the Christmas Tree

I received the cutest Christmas card from the great peeps at Wholly Guacamole. I'd scan it for you so you could see it...but my scanner does not want to cooperate. (Just one of the many ways that my computer is drving me crazy today...and why this post is so short.)

So let's just say that their guac rocks...especially for Christmas. It fits in with the red and green theme, plus it's something to serve at parties that won't ruin all of the hard work you've done getting fit all year. It sure beats mayo and ranch based dips - which go right to your hips.

So if you haven't already, head on over to the Wholly Guacamole website to check out their products and sign up for coupons. Guac around the Christmas tree with me!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Fit Christmas - Healthy Stocking Stuffers

Doing this Christmas Challenge got me thinking. And dreaming...of a fit Christmas.

Those of you who know me from the Bitter Orange & Brown blog already know how much I love to go all Weird Al and change up song lyrics to suit my purpose. (Don't worry though - I won't be sporting any creepy Al hair - or mustache - anytime soon.) Today that means taking White Christmas to another level. With apologies to Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby, who will hopefully not be rolling over in their graves after this, here's "I'm Dreaming of a Fit Christmas":

I'm dreaming of a fit Christmas
Unlike the ones I used to know
Want my belts to buckle
And the chance to chuckle
'Bout the way my season used to go

I'm dreaming of a fit Christmas
With every cookie I don't bite
May your days be merry and light
And may you keep the eggnog out of sight.

Dreaming of this fit Christmas also had me pondering my Christmas stocking. Every year my family and I have ours filled with plenty of chocolate and a couple of small gifts. All except for the holiday before my husband and I got married. I collected fast food ketchup packets for weeks and filled a stocking entirely with ketchup for him. But I digress.

I want some healthier goodies in my sock this year. A couple of small chocolate treats would be fine, but not enough to put me into sugar overload for the new year. So I've come up with the perfect stocking stuffers for your favorite fitness enthusiast (or me, if you place a cheery stocking on my porch...ha ha) so they can start 2012 off right:

1. Protein/Energy Bars These will give them the energy they need without the crash all of that sugar would bring.

2. Gift Cards for Trader Joe's or Whole Foods Eating healthy can get expensive on a tight budget, so your friend or family member would REALLY appreciate these!

3. Gift Certificates for Exercise Classes These costs also add up over time. Give the gift of spin, yoga, Pilates, or Zumba classes...or any other activity your loved one enjoys.

4. Non-slip Hair Bands It's a pain for women to have hair falling in their faces while working out, which I know from experience. Even when you pull it into a ponytail, shorter hairs fall or stick out unless you keep them in place with one of these bands. There are more expensive versions out there, but Goody makes some that work just as well...they come 3 or 4 to a pack for about 5 bucks and can be found in most grocery/drug stores.

5. Fitness DVDs When you can't make it to the gym or a class, DVDs are a lifesaver. My favorites are Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels workouts, along with the Dancing With The Stars series. You don't need a partner to learn the cardio/ballroom moves, and it's so much fun you almost forget you're working out.

6. Resistance Bands These roll up well enough to fit into a stocking, and are useful for stretching and toning when away from home or in a hurry.

7. ToeSox These socks are a necessity for Pilates. They keep you from slipping while you perform moves in various positions, but your toes are still able to function. They come in a toeless version, plus a full sock with separate, individual toe room. You can order ToeSox on their website, or go to a local Pilates studio since most of them keep socks on hand (or foot) to sell.

8. The Good Old-Fashioned Orange This is a tradition that goes way back, and it's always a healthy treat. Just don't get those "chocolate oranges" ...they're not all that great and defeat the purpose. Get the real thing!

This should help you shop for the people in your life who want to get or stay fit. Or you can pass this list on to your own family to shop for you. I hope all of your stockings are filled to the brim with healthy gifts!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Finale -What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

What a crazy ride we've all been on with this season of Biggest Loser.

We've had meltdowns, name-calling, tantrums...and most of them came from one person in particular. Someone who cared only about having the confetti fall on his head, no matter what the cost.

So I suppose it's only fitting that the finale concluded the way he'd always dreamed...with it being all about John.

Thankfully, there were several other stellar moments to remember from the final show of Season 12. As each set of contestants came out on stage, it was obvious that they had all transformed on the outside. What was even better was seeing that inner glow radiate from their faces and shine through their eyes. To me, that's what the show is all about - getting healthy and changing your life.

Some things were done differently from previous finales, which honestly didn't sit well with me and many of my friends on Twitter. Everyone weighed in ahead of time, which is normal for the show, but not everyone got to step on the stage scale. It was calculated before the finale which three players had the highest percentages for the at-home prize, and those three would step on the scale. The others only had their weights announced by Alison, which really took away from each person having his or her own special moment at the finale. I hope they go back to the old way for next season.

Also, the finalists came through a parted doorway with their before images on it instead of stepping through the paper one. Maybe the producers thought the "high-tech" way would be cooler, but breaking through that paper represents each of them breaking away from their old way of life into the new one. This is one time when technology is NOT better...and once again I hope it gets changed back for next season.

The three players weighing in for the at-home prize were Vinny, Patrick, and Jennifer. Did you see the muscles on Vinny? Wow! Patrick looked pretty hot as well. And Jennifer...what a knockout! She played along well with her "love for Bob" montage, which was quite funny. Bob even presented her with a bouquet of flowers. (Most of us agreed that we also have our own crushes on Bob...we just don't get to announce it on TV!) It came down to Jen and Vinny, just as I had predicted earlier today. Yes, I'm giving myself a pat on the back - but not for too long, so I don't have to visit my chiropractor. The difference was 3 pounds, with Jennifer taking the prize. I was so happy for her that I cried. (Of course, as you know by now I'm a crier...especially when it comes to BL!) All those weeks ago when the others sent her home, I'd figured the real reason was because she was a tough competitor (overcoming her knee injury and still pulling great numbers) and a real threat. Turns out she was a true threat after all!

When it came time to reveal the three finalists, each of them got to speak. The letter Ramon's mom sent to the show was really touching, thanking them for saving her son's life and turning him around. Antone's kids are adorable, and he looks amazing. Then we got to John.

John seemed to go on forever, taking much more time than the others did to talk. Dolvett and Bob spoke about John's competitiveness and how proud they were of him...but when the time came for John to answer back he went on and on about Bob, totally ignoring Dolvett. Yes, we all love Bob and he's one of the best trainers anyone could ever have. But so is Dolvett. John also trained with Dolvett, with Dolvett opening his own soul to John about being adopted and the way he grew up in order to get John to confront his emotions. Dolvett had just as much of a part in John's success - but was totally dissed by him. I think Bob was even embarrassed by this. Dolvett is a class act, and I'm very happy he's back for Season 13!

Speaking of next season, how about those previews? Looks like Santa Claus is in training! Bob worked him so hard that he was afraid he'd killed Santa. Santa wasn't run over by a reindeer...he was run over by Bob Harper! And even though Season 13 is couples, half of each pair will train with Dolvett and the other half with Bob...pitting them against each other from the start. It's going to be interesting!

Finally, it was time to weigh-in the finalists. Ramon and Antone both did an incredible job, but in the end John was crowned the new Biggest Loser. I do commend him for all of his hard work. It was a strange sight to behold though - it looked like John truly enjoyed the confetti, but after that when he was talking to other people or they were hugging him he looked kind of sad. There was no inner glow or light in his eyes. It seems as if John concentrated so much on that "winning moment", that he didn't know what to do after the confetti finished falling. That may not bode well for his future in keeping the weight off, although I really hope I'm wrong. I think he still has a lot of issues that he hasn't dealt with yet, which could come crashing down on him since he only thought about winning and not the bigger picture. (Maybe that's why he didn't mention Dolvett..because he didn't want to think about those issues that Dolvett was helping him deal with.) I wish him luck with that. I have a feeling he's going to need it.

And that's a wrap on Season 12. Congratulations to all of the contestants...and I'm looking foward to Season 13, which starts in just 3 weeks!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Biggest Loser 12 Challenge: Finale Weigh-In!

Let the confetti fall on me! Well, let's at least pretend it's falling on is the final weigh in for the #BL12Challenge and I have reason to celebrate!

Let's start with this week loss, which was only a .4 pound loss. I'll take it, since I'm just finishing up with my "gift" for the month and sending it away with that crazy lady that Mother Nature uses to present it to me. (I know - my imagination runs wild with that lovely commercial.) She can keep it until next month!

But it's also time to look at the bigger picture...or, if you really want to think about it, the SMALLER picture. Over the course of this season, I've lost 16.2 pounds. I'd set a goal of 25, which I did not reach - but I still lost over 16 pounds, and this challenge helped me get there. Since I started the season at 216, that means I'm now in...


That's right, my total weight loss for the challenge puts me at 199.8. I know that's just squeaking into this much dreamed of territory, but it's still One-derland. I will not be going back to the 200's, so this is a major reason to celebrate.

Since I plan to rock Hannah's & Olivia's Christmas Challenge, there will be no backsliding...not into old habits or the terrible 2's. Only more progress from here!!!

So how did you wrap up my challenge? Drop me a comment here, or tell me at #BL12Challenge on Twitter. I want to hear your successes for the season.

And I can live with the virtual confetti shower. This way I don't have to vaccum up the real thing!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The My Fitspiration Christmas Challenge - Are You In?

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, but not quite like the ones I used to know...

OK, I just want to wear these fabulous dresses. They also remind me of summer and playing tennis!

Maybe I'm really dreaming of a purple Christmas...

As you might be able to tell by now, Olivia and Hannah, last season's Biggest Loser winner and runner-up, really inspire me. And now they're looking to motivate all of us during the holidays!

A few days ago, the sister act know as the Purple Team posted a Christmas Challenge on their blog at My Fitspiration. The idea is to make sure we don't undo all of the hard work we've done in the last few months over the holidays. All you have to do is post a goal that you will achieve between now and New Year's Day. It doesn't have to be super difficult. The goal can be any type of healthy change that you will make during the Christmas season so that you can start 2012 on a positive note. Olivia and Hannah are all about positive changes, and want to help all of us achieve are goals and dreams.

My goal for the Christmas Challenge is to lose 5 pounds...along with limiting sweets and staying away from the diet soda. These are things that I'm already working on, but at this time of year I've always given in to too many Christmas cookies and desserts. 'Tis the season when I've always made the backslide into drinking diet soda again as well. This challenge will keep me on track and conscious of my choices. I can still enjoy the holidays without falling back into old habits. Since I have my final weigh-in tomorrow for the #BL12Challenge, I will use that as my starting weight for the Christmas Challenge.

So - are you in??? Just go over to My Fitspiration and watch the video under Christmas Challenge. (And watch the bloopers too...they're a hoot!) After watching, post your seasonal goal in the comments. Together we can make this a REALLY Merry Christmas! to spin I go!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Biggest Loser 12 - Happy Homecomings and a Marathon Finish

This season has been a roller coaster of emotions in so many ways. You can certainly say that there was never a dull moment...sometimes that was good, and, well...sometimes not so good.

The last episode before the finale brought all of the emotions to a boil. Thankfully most of them were of the good variety. The Final Four went home for a few weeks before the marathon and final weigh-in on the ranch, to their friends, families, and regular lives.

At least some of them did. We discovered that Becky was the only one who actually started back at her job during this time. She taught her students, took care of her family, and fit in her workouts just like she'll have to do for good once the season is over. The three guys did not have to work - although Vinny kind of did because he was working on new music. (Believe me, it's a skill you have to work at. I know from experience!)

John not only took a longer leave of absence from his job, he also had his wife doing everything for him, including making all of his healthy meals. You would think that he would help in the kitchen since he learned so much on the ranch - but no, he was in full beast mode concentrating only on winning. I can understand that to some extent, but I'm sure his family felt like he was basically still away. When Dolvett came to visit he became worried about John regaining the weight back after the show, because he wasn't learning to adjust to a somewhat real schedule at home. I have to agree. It also irked me that he was sacrificing his wife's health for the grand prize. I'm sure they could have balanced it out much better than they did. It scares me that he can only operate in all-or-nothing mode.

On the most positive note of the homecomings, Vinny surprised his girlfriend Lori with a special date at the Grand Ole Opry. It was just the two of them (and the Biggest Loser cameras), and as he proposed she happily accepted. Now here is a man who understands that balancing health and family is important. Congratulations Vinny and Lori!

Once the four were back at the ranch, they met up with the eleven eliminated players in the desert where the season began. It was finally time to run the marathon, with the winner having a guaranteed spot in the Final Three. Bonnie couldn't run because she was having knee surgery the following week, but she looked really good. She also took care of each contestant as they came across the finish line. Both Vinny and Joe were forced to stop short of the goal but gave a valiant effort.

I loved seeing other contestants get the big moments they didn't have during the season. Patrick, who sacrificed himself in Week 3, ran an excellent race. So did Jennifer, who left those crutches far behind her to finish in the middle of the pack. And for Debbie and Johnny, just making it all the way to the end and crossing the finish line was an accomplishment. It just proves the point - you don't have to make Final Four to be a winner!

The race pretty much came down to Courtney and Ramon, with Ramon winning the spot in the finals. This meant that two people would fall below the red line at the weigh-in. The two people above the line would complete the Final Three.

Becky fell below, but showed working moms everywhere that they can take care of themselves while getting everything else done. Vinny also fell just short of the finals, but he really won the big prize because he learned the most about himself, his family and his health...and he has Lori!

Antone and John will compete with Ramon for the title. (It's really weird this season not to have to vote for the third finalist!) Actually, it seems more like they are competing with each other...and Ramon happens to be there. I wouldn't be surprised if Ramon does sneak in and take the grand prize while the other two duke it out. John did a lot of big talking, but Antone wants his actions and the numbers to do the it should be. Of course, Antone voiced what many of us were thinking when he mentioned that he was finally sick of John! (Challenging every Biggest Loser contestant in the history of the show? Really John? You should be VERY afraid that some of them might take you up on that!)

So tune in next week for the Season 12 live finale. Since the entire season was filled with drama, I wouldn't expect anything less for the finale. Looking forward to the big finish...and rooting for Antone and Ramon!

Biggest Loser 12 Challenge: Holiday Success!

Holiday challenges...they're EVERYWHERE.

There's decorating, gift shopping and Christmas cards to take care of. We have Christmas parties and other events to attend. Rich desserts and high calorie foods are at every turn. Plus it's harder to schedule our workout time with so much going on.

Can you not only survive, but THRIVE during the holidays? Absolutely. I managed to lose alomost 2 pounds over Thanksgiving - so anything is possible!

This week I had tree trimming, decorating and shopping to do. I didn't get all of my exercise in, but I made sure that everyday I did something. And I still kept my regular spin, yoga and Pilates appointments. I swear that's what keeps me sane, especially right now.

I also had a Christmas party last night with my Cleveland bloggger friends. It was so nice to finally meet everyone and have a good time. I brought healthy options - shrimp and a fruit tray - and ate carefully. There was a good balance between treats and healthy fare on the table, since many of my friends are also fitness/health bloggers too. (And I HAVE to find out how Crystal makes her cucumber-mint water so fabulous!)

It's always tricky when you have a party the night before a weigh-in, but it all turned out well. I lost one pound for the week amidst all of the fun and madness. That's a big victory at this time of year.

Next week is the Biggest Loser finale, so I will have my final challenge weigh-in and post final numbers. How did you do this week? Please drop me a line here or at #BL12Challenge on Twitter. We can get through the holidays without losing our takes some effort, but I promise it's worth it!

P.S. That Mariah Carey picture is to motivate that next year I can fit into that cute Santa dress. Even Mariah can fit back into it after having twins, so why not? ;o)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Finding Inner Bliss


We all want it. We all search for it. Many of us are confused about where to find it.

As you know by now, I look to God for my bliss. I always feel better when I turn to Him, do my best, and recognize that He is in control.

But there are many times when I'm stressed out and find it hard to slow down and focus...on where I'm going in life, what I need to do, and how to get there without losing my mind. Even though I pray often, my overactive, creative mind sometimes won't let me be still enough to hear the answer.

This is where Inner Bliss comes in. Yes, this is the name of the studio where I took my first yoga class on Saturday evening. When I spin on Mondays, often my instructor John's wife also takes class with us. Kristen is an instructor at Inner Bliss, and she invited me to participate in their annual Yoga Gives Back event on December 3rd, where for the entire day all classes are FREE. I signed up for her Candlelight Slow Flow class and eagerly anticipated giving it a try.

I mapped out the directions, knowing that even though I somewhat knew the area it could still be difficult navigating the twists and turns in the Rocky River/Lakewood area. At this time of year it's already dark in the early evening, which only made it more difficult to find the studio. I noticed the restaurant that was supposed to be right by it, but didn't see any other signs.

I wound up going down Lake Road too far and noticing I was in Lakewood. I needed to turn around and be back in Rocky River, so I got myself re-positioned and headed back. It was still too dark to see anything. I passed the restaurant and turned around again, thinking what a comedy it would be if I had to stop and ask for directions. "Excuse me, I'm looking for Inner Bliss." "I'm trying to find Inner Bliss..." I imagined some smart aleck telling me, "So am I" or "Well, aren't we all?" Luckily I pulled into the parking lot next to the restaurant and discovered that I was in the right place.

I had given myself plenty of time to get there just in case, so I wasn't stressed when I finally walked in. Even if I had been, the warm and inviting atmosphere would have caused it to drift away immediately. I signed in, grabbed a mat and found a spot to get ready.

The first few moves were relatively simple, but as the session went on I discovered that yoga is not quite as easy at it looks when someone else is doing it. I kept up pretty well for the most part, with a few times when I had to just go back into Child's Pose to stay with it and keep my breathing flowing. I'm glad this was a candlelight class, because it felt less intimidating that way. (Although, the ladies on either side of me were very kind...and most people are busy focusing on their own breathing and movement to have time to worry about someone else's.) Kristen and her assistant also came around to correct form and posture often.

I did notice one very important thing during this session. Concentrating on my breathing helped me clear my head and focus. And the various moves were strengthening my legs, arms, and core at the same time. There are similarites to Pilates, yet many differences which make yoga a perfect compliment to my other activities. And I felt absolutely wonderful afterward!

Kristen told me to drink a lot of water that night and the next day...double what I would normally think I'd need. She also hoped that I wouldn't be cussing her out on Sunday, since it was my first time doing yoga and I'd probably be sore.

She needn't have worried. I did have some soreness, but nothing that stopped me from decorating for Christmas, cleaning and doing laundry. I'm sure following her advice helped tremendously. I did cuss out the Browns - but that's an entirely different story.

So I'm now hooked on another form of exercise. (Better than food or other stuff that's bad for you!) I've signed up for the special beginners event in January at the studio, so I can learn it all step by step...and I can't wait.

Here's to all of us finding our Inner Bliss!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: Makeovers and Motivation

Almost everybody loves Makeover Week. I say almost because Bob didn't seem too thrilled about it. (More on that in a minute.) It's exciting every season to watch people who've literally worked their butts off get a chance to celebrate the fitter, more confident people they've become. I think many of us also think about what we would do with an opportunity like this...we work our butts off in more ways than one at home and would love to be treated like royalty for a change- or just be appreciated.

The Biggest Loser contestants certainly deserve the pampering and updated looks they received. I have to admit, the women's makeovers are always the best part. Unless, of course, you have men who started out looking like shaggy dogs or disco kings with afros from the 70's. This season those guys got voted off before the makovers, so we'll have to wait until finale to see those transformations. (Except for Ramon, who gave us a treat ahead of time!)

Becky's transformation was the most drastic, due to the short haircut and complete air of confidence that glowed from within her. She doesn't even look like she belongs in the upper age group on the ranch! Sunny and Vinny also had amazing makeovers, because they got to wear things that they thought would never have been possible. I love seeing people believe in themselves...even more so because it's a lesson I keep learning everyday for myself.

Once everyone was back on the ranch it was all business once again. I was really touched when Sunny told Anna how much she appreciated her, since I've learned to appreciate Anna more each week. I admit to having my doubts when the season started, especially with the way everything was portrayed in the first few episodes. (I have to keep remembering - reality show editing takes some of the reality out of it!) Like Sunny, I want to get better at tennis...because I love the sport and want to be able to play longer with my family. It would be an honor to learn from Anna, and I'm glad Sunny realized it and was able to express her thanks while still on the ranch. I'm actually sorry that Anna won't be back next season. I think she was finally starting to hit her groove!

Hearing Sunny's conversation with Anna only made the weigh-in more painful. Bob went ballistic when Sunny only lost one pound and thought she didn't have much of a reaction. He also blamed it on the time spent away for the makeovers. At first it seemed like Bob was overdoing it, but when I remembered that last week Bob mentioned how much Sunny reminded him of his sister it all made sense. I'm sure Bob would love to drill those same points home to his own sister too. Everyone else did pretty well, considering the limited time for exercise this week.

Sunny wound up falling just short of the Final 4, but seeing her stay dedicated at home really motivates me. She gets up early for bootcamp, goes to the gym, takes tennis lessons...oh yeah, and teaches all week too! She proves that if you really want it you will find the time for it. I can't wait to see her final transformation at the finale.

Next week is homecoming for the Final 4, along with the marathon. It will be interesting to see who trained hard at home and wins the other spot in the finals. Can you believe it's less than 2 weeks to the finale? The season really is flying by!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Challenge - Giving Extra Thanks!

The first weigh-in after Thanksgiving is usually stressful, not just for me but for most people I know. It's when everyone typically steps on the scale, sees a number worse than the week before, and asks why they had to stuff themselves on Turkey Day...and with the leftovers the rest of the weekend.

This year I did indulge in a couple of my favorites - stuffing and sweet potatoes - but otherwise had small portions on Thanksgiving. Of course I had pumpkin pie, but it was the healthier version that I've been making for a few years. I thought I did relatively well, but since the scale was not kind the week before I was still a little nervous.

Imagine my happiness this morning when I discovered I lost 1.8 pounds! Looks like my body (and the scale) made up for the week before. Losing close to 2 pounds for the holiday week is almost unheard of, but I'm thrilled to report that it can happen!

I credit this to choosing my holiday treats carefully, drinking plenty of water, and working out more than I ever have over the Thanksgiving holiday. Also, we only took a small amount of leftovers home, so I didn't keep the feast going for the entire weekend. It was really good to see it pay off immediately on the scale...but I know the rewards will last for a lifetime.

How did you do this week? Please shoot me a comment here or at #BL12Challenge on Twitter. Remember - if you did overdo it over Thanksgiving, now is the time to get back on track!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Fitter Black Friday - My Thanksgiving Continues!

The tradition continues...and it only gets better every year.

I'm not necessarily talking about the Black Friday deals. I definitely got some good ones and saved a lot of money, but that's not even close to the best part of the day after Thanksgiving.

This is an annual tradition for me that has evolved over the years. It began with my mom and I, shopping till we dropped every holiday season. We added my cousin Carol to the mix over time, and the three of us always had a blast.

Then my mom passed away...and a couple of years later, so did Carol. I would go shopping on Black Friday by myself, but of course it wasn't the same. In fact, it was a day of mixed emotions as I alternately remembered the good times we'd had and missed them terribly - watching moms, daughters, sisters, and friends walk around in groups having the same good time we always did. None of my friends at the time liked shopping on Black Friday. It got so painful that I actually stopped going for a couple of years. I'd sit around depressed, eating too many Thanksgiving leftovers.

Then fate stepped in - divine intervention in the form of my husband's old high school classmates. A few years ago, a group of guys and girls from the Westlake High Class of 1984 (same year I graduated, except from Magnificat) started having an annual reunion get-together over Labor Day weekend. The ladies who were friends of my husband mentioned that they've had a Black Friday shopping tradition since 8th grade, and invited me and the other wives of their male school friends to join them. Some of us did...and I've been going shopping with them ever since.

Every year, I'd spend the day on my feet, constantly walking and standing in line, and carrying heavy bags around the mall. We do take frequent trips to our cars to drop things off, but it always took a toll on my very unfit body. I would ache more and more as the day went on, and when I got home I would collapse on the couch unable to move anymore. I hurt so badly that it would take the rest of the weekend for me to be able to function properly again.

But this year was different. Since I've been working out regularly, my stamina has improved. Yesterday was a complete revelation as I walked, carried packages, and enjoyed myself without pain. I still have a long way to go fitness-wise, but there's no doubt that I'm getting stronger. I lasted the whole day without my body screaming at me. When I arrived home, I was tired from not having much sleep, but nothing hurt. I had no problem getting up and moving around or getting things done. Today I feel like I hadn't even exerted myself the day before, and it's really a thrill to be able to do more than sit in front of the TV this holiday weekend.

So on this 2nd day after Thanksgiving, I still have much to be thankful for. I'm blessed to have a great group of ladies to shop with on Black Friday, while knowing that Mom and Carol are smiling down on me. I'm thankful for their friendship, now and year-round. And I'm extremely grateful this year to everyone at Psycle and BodyWave Pilates for kicking my butt and helping me with my fitness. Because of them, and my own belief in myself, I'm enjoying the ENTIRE Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: A Happy Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving

There's nothing like Thanksgiving to bring out the best - or worst - in people.

It doesn't matter that this episode was filmed during the summer. All things Thanksgiving were present and accounted for. The contestants began with a food challenge in order to win a 3 pound advantage. I don't know about you, but if I ate those holiday dishes trying to find the magic number on the bottom of the plate, I would have cancelled out my 3 pound advantage.

Vinny won that challenge, and thankfully without having to eat too much of the Thanksgiving goodies. He also won the Biggest Loser Songwriter of the Year award for the song he composed about his girlfriend, Lori. The lyrics are personal to him, yet universal enough that I could see it becoming a least from the portion we got to hear. As a country girl and fellow songwriter, I look forward to Trailer Choir at the top of that charts!

The players then sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner with the trainers. I'm sure none of them even wanted to look at the food after the challenge. That's OK, because one of the best lessons anyone can learn for the holidays is to focus on family and friends - not the food. The most touching moment came from Bob, who shared his love for his sister and frustration at not being able to help her get healthy. It's quite ironic that he's a world-class trainer for a living, but hasn't been able to get through to his sister. And it only proves the point that no matter who you have around you, YOU are the one doing the work and YOU have to be ready to make the change. I hope Bob's sister is ready now, after seeing this episode. Maybe she'll even see some of herself in Sunny, just as Bob does.

Now - on to the dysfunctional part of this Thanksgiving. Everyone competed in a Jacob's Ladder challenge for more prizes, with the winner getting a one pound advantage. This person would also get to give a one pound disadvantage to another player. Sunny came on strong and almost won, but John was the victor. Earlier in the episode I was loving how strong he was becoming with Dolvett's help. Unfortunately, this wound up creating a monster who decided to give Sunny the disadvantage.

Sunny was visibly upset, as were the rest of the group. When the weigh-in ended, John stayed above the yellow line and Sunny went below. The kicker was that if she hadn't received the pound disadvantage she would have been safe and John would have been below. I'm thrilled that Dolvett gets to stay around, because if John had gone home Dolvett's team would have been no more. But I wish there was a way to keep the trainer even if his last charge leaves!

Sunny was up for elimination along with Ramon. Almost everyone voted for Ramon becase they thought the whole situation was unfair to Sunny. The only exceptions were Vinny (who's best buddy is Ramon, so that makes sense) and John, who after supposedly being so upset that he put Sunny in this situation STILL voted for her to go home. Antone called him out big time, saying he basically voted for Sunny twice. I do hope John redeems himself somehow...but I foresee a major showdown at the BL-OK Corral next week.

Ramon is the one who had to leave, but after seeing him back home with Jessica I stopped feeling bad for him. He didn't make it to makeover week, but he still had his own to surprise Jessica. I'd say he's still a winner...and quite the hottie now. Things somehow work out - just as they are supposed to.

Tune in next week for one of our favorites - Makeover Week! And don't foregt tonight's special "Where Are They Now?" episode!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Challenge - Fighting Frustration

After today, there are only three more weigh-ins leading up to the Biggest Loser Season 12 Finale. It's crunch time...and right now I want to crunch something.

I worked REALLY hard this week. I had dinner out with my friends but stuck to the Weight Watchers menu at Applebee's. We had one Thanksgiving dinner this past Saturday, because my nephew's band is playing the the Macy's Parade - but I ate mostly veggies and lean turkey with only a little bit of carbs. I stepped up my spin classes and other workouts. I stayed away from soda and drank plenty of water.

So what was my reward on the scale this morning? A .2 pound loss. That's right. All of my hard work barely got me anywhere. I usually try to stay upbeat when I have weigh-ins like this, but with this challenge getting down to the wire I got so frustrated that I actually screamed at my scale.

I wish I could say I had a pet that stepped on the scale with me and threw off my numbers, but I'm allergic so I can't even go there. I weighed myself undressed, after going to the bathroom as usual. I stepped on the scale 4 times to be sure. Still the same result.

After getting dressed and leaving for the grocery store in a bad mood, I decided that I needed to make a list of non-scale victories before I lost my mind. I have to move past this. Here are my NSV's for the week:

1. My pants are still getting looser and I can see in the mirror that my love handles are smaller.

2. Last night, my spin instructor told me he can tell that I'm getting much stronger.

3. I could have really splurged on my girls' night out and early Turkey Day, but I stayed in control.

4. If I had splurged on those nights...the scale would have gone in the wrong direction.

5. Everything I did this week was still a step in the FIT direction.

So I'm feeling better this afternoon about my progress. I realize that there are weeks when we do everything right and it still doesn't show on the scale. I have to press on and keep it moving!

How did you do this week? Please share your victories, both on and off the scale, here and at #BL12Challenge on Twitter. Hopefully the scale was kinder to you!

Monday, November 21, 2011

How Shoes are Get it Done

As part of the Ohio Blogger's Association's Cleveland November Blog Swap, I'd like you to meet my guest blogger for today, Jenn at Love Me Some Shoes. Many of us who call Northeast Ohio home are participating in this blog swap today as a way for you to get to know more of us. For a complete list of today's Blog Swap participants, please visit Alicia at Poise in Parma, who rocks for organizing all of this. If you would like to see my guest post for today, I'm over on Julie's blog Wearing Mascara. And Julie's post is at Jen's. Got it? Good - hope you enjoy! :o)

Wow-a whole day on someone else's blog...could get dangerous! Thanks, Marie, for this stellar opportunity plus your blog is pretty awesome! So, lets get to it-by popular belief, many believe high heels are detrimental to your health...lets be honest, sure they might cause a little soreness (but if you are following Julie's tips for a healthy lifestyle, your ankles, calves and body should be able to take care of itself as long as you are smart about your heel purchases). I am here to tell you why they are good for your health. Hopefully, by now we have all learned that confidence is a key ingredient to life...did you know heels can you afford this in your daily life? Case in point, I recently had a job interview that I thought was a little above my experience level, but I knew I needed a to boost my confidence. I needed to bring in the big guns, and live on the edge...

These beauties may look a little lethal but when properly sized and belted in are nothing but little soft grey clouds-honest, I swear. And there I had it, POWER SHOES, I walked, no rather, I strutted into my job interview in Westake, knocked them dead, impressed the women in the office, and put another notch on the old self confidence belt. Needless to say, I start December 5th! So long, old boring job.

Sure some people will think this is vanity, but I have never felt so powerful, strong in a feminine way, and confident as I do when I have a perfect pair of shoes to compete in the either the work force or socially. Try it are not vain, its human nature and its character building! Plus you look pretty bad ass stomping through Cleveland with some killer heels!

And in regards to other shoes...I believe if you love your shoes, that they are clean (you know what I am talking about), and that they have somewhat of a style, your self image will soar. Its easy, and to be honest, shoes are available at every price point in every market and probably end up being the cheapest accessory for any woman's outfit.

What do you have to lose?

Thanks for taking a look and check out more at And again, thank you, Marie!

Jenn Who Loves Shoes

Thank you Jen! I will be visiting your blog often, as I have developed my own love affair with shoes over the past few years. And husband knows all about it!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Two And A Half Jen

It's really amazing - the places my mind goes sometimes.

I'm a creative person to begin with, writing articles, songs, blogs, novels...not to mention making jewelry and working on other projects. So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise to me that I got a bright idea the other day when I was singing along to one of my Sugarland CD's in the car.

I love Sugarland. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush are talented, incredible performers, who inspire me (plus a whole lot of other people) with their music and positive messages. And you just can't beat a voice like Jen's.

As I was singing, I started thinking that a movie should be made covering the story of Sugarland - how they got their start in music, how the group formed and the many adventures that have happened along the way. My mind's chain of thoughts led me to wonder who would portray each of them. From there I started thinking how cool it would be to play Jennifer and get to sing her part throughout the filming.

I constantly sing Sugarland music. I've been told that I have a good voice, and even that I can affect a Southern drawl pretty well. In my own head I can sing like Jennifer, and I always thought I should have been born south of the Mason-Dixon line. I don't know for sure if I could pull it off, but I'd sure love to try.

This, of course, led me to another thought. Even though I've lost some weight, at this point I'm twice Jennifer's size. In fact, probably a little more than that. Hence, my conclusion that right now I am "Two And A Half Jen".

Jen and Kristian are certainly role models in music, but you may not know they can be healthy inspirations as well. Jennifer is incredibly fit, and in the above photo on the left you can see just how doing yoga assists both of them on stage. ( do they DO that?)

So...if my imagination can help me with getting in better shape, why not? I can pretend I'm auditioning for the role of Jennifer Nettles in The Story of Sugarland. And I've always wanted to try yoga. It's just another step in the fit direction, since I've come to love walking, sprints, spinning and Pilates. Why not yoga too?

Why not dream big??? You never know where your dreams might take you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: There's No Team In "I", Or So We Thought

There's no "I" in team.

There's also no Team in "I", or at least that's what we think when Biggest Loser goes to singles and the yellow line looms in the minds of the players.

They certainly started out thinking that way. Once Alison made the announcement that each player would be on their own and there was going to be a week long penthatalon, everyone started strategizing. It is partially a game, after all. The first event had the contestants ranking each other according to who they most thought would win this season, and everyone had their own system for coming up with a list. They ranged from putting the "least threatening" players first to ranking them alphabetically. (Really, Sunny? Couldn't you put a little more effort into it?) The kicker was - the results of this event would not be revealed until the weigh-in.

As the contestants moved through each event, they received points according to where they finished and stood on a championship-style podium...except this podium had 7 steps. I bet there are a few athletes that wished they had that at the Olympics. What type of medal would you give for 7th place? Paper? Aluminum foil???

On the day of the final event, the players got to meet Apolo Ohno, the most decorated American athlete in the history of the Winter Olympics. He brought them lunch (Subway of course) and talked to them about how they inspire him and his weight problem as a kid. Looking at him now, it's still hard to fathom that his childhood nickname was Chunky. (And of course we're all looking at him now, because...well, just LOOK at him!) That just makes his victories in life that much sweeter and inspires everyone to overcome the labels that were placed on them at various times in their lives. You are more than a cruel or stupid nickname...don't let yourself be defined by it.

Apolo led the last event, a one mile run similar to what the contestants did on their very first day. (Thankfully they didn't all have to run together carrying a pole this time.) Apolo ran with them, accompanying each of them on the last leg to the finish line. Bonnie was the last to finish, and after Apolo ran out to join her so did everyone else. It was really nice to see players put aside "the game" to genuinely care about somebody else. Maybe all they needed was a glimpse into the heart of a champion to have it rub off on them. Apolo has always been incredibly gracious in both victory and defeat, and I'm happy to see this season's contestants get it and finally apply it to their own experience.

When it came time for the weigh-in, the results were revealed for the first event and the total of all five. You know Sunny was regretting her alphabetical plan when Antone won and received immunity. Boonie was last and received a one pound disadvantage. She wound up below the yellow line with Becky.

In true Olympic spirit, Bonnie sacrificed herself for Becky, her former teammate on Anna's Blue team. Not only did she want her friend to keep going, but she really wants to see a teacher take it all the way. (Both Becky and Sunny are math teachers.) Her unselfish act caused plenty of tears on the ranch and here at my house. These are the moments that really matter - not whether you beat someone at a challenge, but how you treat them. Winning is still something to strive long as you treat people well along the way.

Next week the players and trainers have Thanksgiving dinner together at the ranch. Even though you know they will consume healthy versions of our holiday favorites, I'd love to see Apolo back to lead a Turkey Trot. Hey, I'm all for some Apolo every week!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Challenge - Getting Closer!

Can you believe Thanksgiving will be next week? This autumn is flying by, probably because I'm so busy. But busy in a good way!

This week was a little bit better on the scale. I lost 1.2 pounds, which I'm extremely proud of because of the stressful challenges that happened within the last week. If you read my last post, you know about one of them. In the past, a day like Saturday would have had me running to the store for ice cream or chocolate. I'm happy to say I did NOT do that this time. I owe it all to my Gratitude List, which turned my attitude around and calmed me to the point that I didn't feel the need to eat away the stress. I took a walk instead. Attitude really is everything!

Speaking of a great attitude...are you ready for Apolo Ohno on Biggest Loser tonight? No matter what is thrown at him, he keeps it all in perspective - not only surviving, but THRIVING!

So as we move closer to the holiday season, please share your success here or at #BL12Challenge with me. Thank you to those who have already done so; you are all rockin' it. Let's make this a healthier holiday this time around!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Changing My Attitude - To Gratitude!

Yesterday was a day that tried my patience. I usually try to stay positive about things that happen in my life, but this time was a little bit different.

As many of you know, I design and make jewelry and sell my creations at craft shows and on Etsy. Sometimes at shows I run a special, offering sale prices to the people supporting the organizations that put on the events. A few weeks ago, I ran one such special and had a pretty good day sale-wise. I know in this economy people are watching their pennies, so I decided to offer the same deal to the people at yesterday's show.

Of course, each show is different so I didn't put enormous expectations on myself. I did, however, have the thought that I would at least sell a couple of items.

The morning began slowly, as it usually does because people sleep in on Saturdays and don't arrive until mid-morning or later. I always try to take this in stride. My friend Debbie, who shared the table with me, sold a couple of her novels early on so I was happy that she was having a decent start.

As the day wore on, other people around us were making sales while we watched. Debbie sold a couple more books. By 2 PM, I began to resign myself to the fact that I had not yet sold anything and the possibility that might not change. I always keep up hope...but also try to stay realistic enough so I don't get upset if it's a bad show for me. The lady in charge of the show came around to see how we were doing. Debbie mentioned that she couldn't complain because she'd sold her minimum goal, and this lady said that everyone was telling her they were doing pretty well that day. I said nothing. I didn't want this woman to feel bad that someone at her show had sold nothing up to this point. Of course as I look back, my silence probably said it all.

Just before 3 PM, a couple of ladies came to our table who seemed promising. One of them talked with Debbie at length about her books, while the other picked out jewelry on my side. She kept complimenting me on my creations and picked out 4 bracelets. She had me hold them for her, telling me she would be back to get them.

The show was set to close at 4, and for a while I was excited that I would still have a decent day in sales. It's not unusual to have last minute sales, so I let myself get my hopes up. I saw these ladies stop at other tables and look things over for a while. But then suddenly neither Debbie or I could see them anywhere. It was as if they had disappeared into thin air.

We tried to stay positive. It was possible they went to the ladies room or ran into someone they knew in the hallway. Yet 4 o'clock came and went with no sign of them anywhere. They had already left...and this woman had bailed on me.

This is the point at which I got a little upset. Debbie was too, and agreed with me that it was very rude to ask someone to hold 4 items for them and never come back. A lot of people promise they'll be back but don't - but none of these people have actually had the nerve to make us hold anything aside especially for them. What if I'd left those bracelets in with the others? I could have possibly sold those designs to someone else and made something. Instead I wound up at zilch for the day.

I actually held myself together pretty well until I was driving home. I thought about my family asking me how I'd done, and started to cry when I realized I would have to tell them I didn't sell a darn thing. That what always gets me the most...I hate disappointing my husband and son and wind up feeling like a failure.

I also think that had those ladies not come along, I would have been better prepared for the day not ending well. I wouldn't have built up my hopes just to have them come crashing down.

When I got home my family was kind, but just as upset as I was about the woman sneaking out the door on me. Even if she had come back to my table and said she wouldn't be able to buy them I would have felt better, knowing that at least she had some class to let me know and not leave me hanging. is where the GRATITUDE comes in. After giving myself permission to be upset for a little while, I decided to end my pity party and make a list. There are always good things to be thankful for, even if you have to really think about them. Here is my Gratitude List for yesterday:

1. I got to spend the day with one of my best friends, which is always a plus.

2. The school had lowered the price of the tables, so Debbie and I each got $5.00 back. That's 5 bucks I didn't have before.

3. The school provided lunch for the vendors free of charge. Not all shows do this, and I am grateful that I didn't have to spend my own money on lunch.

4. I was able to meet and talk to a local book publisher at another table, which may be helpful in the near future when my novel is ready.

5. Seeing all of the other vendors' creations always gives me new ideas and boosts my own creativity.

By the time I finished writing this list, my spirits bean to lift and I felt much better. Yes, it was still rude what that lady did, but once I counted all of the other blessings I wasn't really thinking about her. I was thinking about the good things instead.

So it's time to move on from this experience and on to the next, while learning a lesson and brainstorming what I might be able to do better next time. Whenever you're having one of those days, I highly recommend making your own Gratitude List. You will definitely feel better!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: Iron Chef, Ranch Style

Welcome to the latest episode of the Biggest Loser, where throwdowns occur on a regular basis in the gym, the house, the weigh-in room...and occasionally in the kitchen.

Of course we had all of the drama involving Jessica being sent home, Ramon being upset, and all of the players having to watch their backs before any knives got stuck into them. I have to say - I REALLY miss the camaraderie of last season, when the majority of the players really cared about each other and were more worried about each person than the gameplay. Yes, there will always be gameplay and moments of drama, but the Season 11 players seemed to find the perfect balance between the game and friendship. This is only another reason why it was so nice to see Olivia back for this episode!

So I will move into the positive aspects of the week. Olivia was back, along with Chef Devin Alexander, who writes the Biggest Loser cookbooks plus her own. She prides herself on decadent food without the fat, calories, and other unhealthy stuff - and she certainly does it well. From experience I can say that her recipes are to die for...except you won't die because the food is good for you. If you haven't checked out the Biggest Loser book series you should, and do yourself a favor and get some of Devin's own line of cookbooks. Your taste buds AND waistline will thank you!

Olivia and Devin were the judges of an Iron Chef style challenge on the ranch. Each team had to prepare a dish, with the help of their trainers, that was low in calories while being both delicious and filling. The two of them did not know who made each dish until after they decided the winner. The winning team got a one pound advantage at the weigh-in, along with a healthy lunch with extra surprises. All three dishes looked like something I would make, but the team of D & O chose the Black team's slaw with pork medallions. It actually looks like something you could serve for a holiday lunch. So to the Black team goes the spoils...including their recipe featured in Devin's new Biggest Loser cookbook. (Yes, I've ordered mine forn Open I'll definitely be trying out the recipe.)

Olivia's lunch with the Black team caused plenty of tears, both on the ranch and at my house. Those scrapbooks were amazing, made completely with love. And roses from Becky's husband? The icing on the cake. (As long as the cake is from a BL book!) Olivia also had a long talk with the players, in which I hope her positive spirit rubbed off on them. We could sure use it this season.

Another eye-opening moment came when Dr. H's colleague, Dr. Linden, showed us some brain science. Of course we all know that eating makes people happy...but the real kicker was how differently obese people's brains process food than slender folks. It's actually very helpful to know this, because then you can deal with the differences. Now we know why thin peeps are satisfied with less!

The elimination was drama filled as usual, but Joe looks incredible now so he is definitely putting the knowledge he learned on the show to good use. Next week the players go to singles, which will make it even more interesting. Hopefully nobody kills anyone this season! Also, I pray for more positive moments like those with Devin and Olivia...which is what this show should really be about.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Challenge - November 8th Votes and Successes

Happy Election Day! As you go out to the polls, also make a commitment to yourself. ELECT to be healthy. VOTE for a better life. Since you cast the only ballot, what you decide goes!

Since it's weigh-in day for the #BL12Challenge, I stepped on my trusty scale before heading to my local polling place. I did lose - almost a pound, .8 to be exact. All things considered, I'll take it. Since my monthly gift is here any loss is a good thing. Of course, I'd love to exchange my monthly gift for a 3 or 4 pound loss on the scale, but since that's not an option I'll be thankful for what I've received. I worked hard and made good food choices, so I know I did my part. It still paid off because normally I'd lose nothing or gain something at "gift" time.

Besides, as I often say - it all adds up. My total weight loss so far for the challenge is 11.6, so every week I'm getting closer to my goal of a fitter, healthier life. I elect to move forward and do even better...time for spin class before Biggest Loser tonight!

How are you doing with your goals? Drop me a note here or on Twitter at #BL12Challenge!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Learning to Stand Strong

The last couple of weeks have been filled with powerful lessons for me. So powerful, in fact, that I feel 100 times stronger than I did in mid-October.

I've stood up for people (several, in fact) who do the right thing, and in turn I've been bashed. This has been by a small's just that those few have big mouths (or big keyboards). In the past, I was such a people-pleaser that even if one person disagreed with me it would bother me, and for much longer than I should have let it. I had this thing about people liking me. Now, that's not to say I don't still want people to like me, but I realize not every single person on earth is going to agree with me or want to be my friend. And that's perfectly OK. It doesn't mean I'm a bad person if someone has a different opinion. I just agree to disagree and move on.

I got hit with several instances of this in the past two weeks, and I did have some moments where I overthought it. Of course, I prayed about it. In no uncertain terms, God told me I was doing the right thing and to not let any negativity bother me. I've also learned that working it out in the gym (instead of torturing my mind) feels awesome and makes me stronger in more ways than one. God does not want me to fold like a cheap tent when criticized - He wants me to pull whatever decent advice I can from it, and stand strong in my beliefs.

So with that in mind, I ask that we please all respect each other even if we don't agree. I have no problem if someone doesn't share the same thoughts as I do; the world would sure be boring if we all agreed all the time. I've only had one instance of nastiness happen on this blog, with the others coming in other forms. If you have a differing opinion, think before you say or write something intelligent that makes sense and isn't just attacking me or someone I speak or write about. We all deserve respect.

Also, I do know that no matter how nicely I ask this, there are some people who just can't handle offering their thoughts without telling someone else how stupid they are or attacking. I feel sorry for those people, but I will not let them get to me. I suggest that all of my friends do the same - take eveything said to you with a grain of salt and don't let it break your spirit.

Oh, and if you leave a scathing remark and sign it Anonymous...I get a good laugh because you are too afraid to voice your anger without being real. I delete nasty, negative comments posted this way, because if you can't even put a name to it you don't really deserve a response.

So here's to agreeing and disagreeing - respectfully! :o)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

On this week's Biggest Loser, the contestants learned that the one constant in the show is that THINGS ARE GOING TO CHANGE.

The other lesson? DEAL WITH IT!

You just knew that there was going to be a big shake-up, with the Black team gloating that they all stuck together and would continue to do so. Never mind that they actually sent a member of the Black team home last week...I guess somehow that doesn't count. But I'm sure Jen had to smile at home seeing what happened next. (Now I didn't just smile - I actually laughed so loud that I was afraid the neighbors heard me.)

Let me preface this by saying that I get it. For anyone, whether on TV or not, to have to switch trainers...well, it's definitely not easy. You do get used to that person's way of doing things, especially if it's working for you. When something is working, you don't want to lose that rhythm, and when a situation in life causes things to change it throws you for a loop. That's why even going on the ranch is such a big thing. These contestants have been stuck in the same way of life for a long time, and the biggest change of all is to get off the couch and throw yourself to the Biggest Loser lions.

But when Alison informed the teams that they were going to be broken up and moved around for the rest of the season, my first thought was that they were going to have their payback. Most of them immediately panicked, while some tried to stay calm until the high-calorie picnic basket game was over and they knew exactly where they stood.

Those picnic baskets would have given even Yogi Bear a heart attack. Did you see how many calories were in those meals? Yogi would have to hibernate for much longer than winter after eating all of that. As much as I love Southern food, Vinny's breakfast made sick to my stomach. Sunny's Mexican dinner most resembled my favorite, although not nearly that portion size and not as often as she said she indulged. (Moderation is your friend!)

Once the musical teams challenge was complete, everyone pretty much lost it. Antone and Jessica were relieved to stay with their original trainers, but still upset that they didn't have the same teammates. The most dramatic reaction came from the Black team members that had to leave Bob - you would have thought that he was divorcing them and moving to Siberia. This, while I understood, came from the same people who harrassed a certain someone the week before about being too attached to Bob. So this is where the laughter came in. You're not so different after all! (BEHOLD - the power of Bob!)

The only person actually glad to leave her trainer was Bonnie. Obviously since she butted heads with Anna she was glad to go with Dolvett. (I wonder how many calories her happy dance burned?) It turns out that Dolvett was a good thing for Bonnie, getting her to deal with her grief as no one else had been able to do before. And Dolvett & Anna dealt well with the people who acted like they were afraid to leave their daddy to go to kindergarten. Dolvett had to watch John sobbing in Bob's arms, then train him. Dolvett knew it was nothing personal and that he would prove himself to his new team. Anna actually told Joe to stop acting like someone took his toy away and be a man. (LOVING this new, feistier Anna!)

I'm sure it took longer for the new teams to warm up to their trainers than was actually shown on TV, since of course the episode would need to be a couple of hours longer to show it all. But in the end everyone began to embrace the change and pulled great numbers on the scale. The big twist? For whichever team came in last, the other two teams got to decide who would go home.

The Red team was low on the totem pole this time, so the Blue and Black teams got to vote. Since John couldn't be voted off, it came down to Bonnie and Jessica. Somewhat surprisingly, Jessica was sent home...and Ramon was NOT happy. (Looks like they will all deal with his wrath next week!) As sad as I am to see Jessica go, a part of me is excited to see what Bonnie will do next, since she is starting to emerge from her cocoon of grief with Dolvett's help. Everything happens for a reason...eevn if we don't know what that reason is for a long time.

Of course, Jessica is workin' it at home, and this Clevelander won't even hold it against her that she had some Steelers training her. (Hey - football loyalties are fierce!) Tune in next week, as Biggest Loser continues with even more drama than Days of Our Lives! I bet Ali sometimes forgets which set she's on sometimes! ;o)