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Monday, November 17, 2008

A Whole Month!!

I know! It's been a month since I've posted my last blog and this one is just an update. I've been participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) It's the craziest thing I've ever done! (come on, you're talking to me - prior to this, the fried twinkie was the craziest thing I'd ever done....interesting how it always comes back to that. )

ANWAY, NaNoWriMo challenges you to belt out a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. WooHoo! then, *sigh*. That is a whole lot of friggin' words, my friend.

I'm just over half way there, though. I'm at 25,139 at this moment (that's 61 pages in Word), but life is about to get a whole lot crazier for me. I leave on an airplane in less than 48 hours to go to Georgia, then drive to North Carolina for my little bro's wedding. I won't get back home until November 30th. NaNoWriMo will be pretty much over by then.

So, I thought about quitting. It's not like you win anything. You get a little star by your name so everyone else knows you did it. Also, my novel is turning out to be a bunch of hooie (not quite sure how to spell that one). It started great and then, well, the hooie ensued. Who wants to read hooie - much more, who really enjoys writing hooie?! Okay, now it's becoming just about how many times I can write hooie.

ANYhooie, I'm not going to quit. I could be doing a bajillion different things, but I'm going to keep writing. I'm also pretty dang determined to finish this novel. As stinky as it is, it's a first draft. My editor side of me is really getting angry, but I won't allow myself to re-read anything. Accomplished authors always started out with a first draft and I've heard some say that their first draft was awful too. So, I'm gonna keep typing away. I really think there's a diamond in that hooie. I just have to keep picking away at it and then, I'll get to polish it later.

MAN! I just realize I wrote 351 words up there! Do you think I'd be allowed to add that to my word count? Have I become obsessed?! You betcha!
Click here for more info on NaNoWriMo.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I'm realizing more and more that every day is another chance to make choices. Not just surrounding food, but about who I am as a person. Aside from the consequences of poor choices, in general, my choices yesterday (or a minute ago) don't lock me in to my choices for today (or a minute from now). Yesterday, I may have chosen to have an angry, irrational reaction to my family. It doesn't mean that's who I am or that I have to continue having that angry reaction.

When I woke up this morning, the onslaught of choices were amazing:

a. Hit snooze – wake up? (chose snooze twice)
b. Let out the dog – or take care of my needs first? (chose myself – then my dog)
c. Jeans and Husky shirt – nice new professional work outfit? (come on – it's Friday – jeans!)
d. Eat right away – wait until I get to work? (oatmeal at work)
e. Wake up Caleb – let him get his rest? (he got up on his own minutes later)
f. Yell at Caleb for playing when he's supposed to be getting ready – gently follow through with the consequences (that he's fully aware of) of not listening to his mom? (this morning, I yelled)

And those were just choices for the immediate and physical. There are millions of mental choices that we all make every second of our lives.

Will I look at the glass as half full today?
Will I learn to see that my husband loves me and that's the basis for his actions towards me (not to annoy me!).
Will I choose to view my job as a blessing or a curse?
Will I choose a spinach salad or a cheeseburger with fries?
Will what I choose to eat change my outlook for the day?
Will I give away my joy over a harsh word or hang on to it – KNOWing it's not worth it?
Will I feed the positive (or negative) version of me with more of the same?

Every second is another choice opportunity. I'm continually standing at the fork in the road and, usually, there is a better path to choose. That fact is exhilarating to me. Nothing is written in stone. Even if I chose the Cheeseburger-and-Fry path for the last 365 days, that doesn't mean that's the path I have to choose today. I've seen research that shows a switch to healthy eating actually reverses damage done by unhealthy eating. It's never too late to change choices.

As I'm writing this, I think I may be making some choices based on what I've always done. So, today, I am choosing to look at my choices with fresh eyes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Soundtrack

For those who don't know, the Weight Watcher meeting that changed my life was basically discussing music- the sound track to your weight loss. The goal was to change the negative "music" that you allow to play in your mind. The question was posed, "What song comes to mind when thinking about your weight loss?" Some wise person answered Never Gonna Break My Stride. The first one that came to mind for me was Your Cheatin' Heart.

I immediately came home and spent the day trolling iTunes for upbeat songs that would be my theme song. The result was a full soundtrack. I've now had two years of an ever-evolving workout playlist that pushes me harder while I'm on the eliptical. There was also a side-benefit that I was surprised by. By associating these songs with the "feel good" benefit of the workout, the songs alone create a desire in me to hit the gym.

A few of my favorites:

Because We Can, Fatboy Slim
All Star, Smash Mouth
I Like to Move It, Madagascar 5
Fighter, Christina Aguilera
You Should Be Dancing, Bee Gees (dance remix)
Get Ready for This, Crazy Frog
Walk This Way, Run-DMC
You Sexy Thing, Hot Chocolate (dance remix)

My cool-down song has remained the same for every workout and it has become my Theme Song - the reason why I do what I do. I've included the important lyrics below, saving the chorus for the end.

I Want to Live
Josh Gracin

Sometimes I feel like I need to shake myself, to wake myself:
I feel like I'm just sleep walking through my life.
It's like I'm swimming in an ocean of emotion,
But still, somehow, slowly going numb inside.
I don't like who I'm becoming, I know I've gotta do something
Before my life passes right by.

So I can feel the ground beneath me, really taste this air I'm breathing,
And know that I'm alive. I want to cry like the rain
To shine like the sun on a beautiful morning,
Sing to the heavens like a church bell ringing,
Fight with the devil and go down swinging.
Fly like a bird, roll like a stone,
Love like I ain't afraid to be alone.
Take everything that this world has to give.
I want to live.

I want to take every breath I can get.
I want to live.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stick Dreams

I noticed some interesting new landscaping the other day. There was a large mound of soil, surrounded by nicely done circular brickwork. In the middle of this 4 foot circle was a tiny tree. Really, it looked like a stick. I laughed out loud because, honestly, it looked ridiculous.

I remembered how silly my tiny hostas looked when I followed the directions and planted them 12-18" apart. Now, three years later, they still look a little too spaced out, but I can see they're coming along nicely.

Then, it hit me. When you plant a tree, you have to plan on what it WILL be like. You have to know and expect it to change. Too little room and you will stunt the growth, never knowing its true potential OR it could cause structural damage to things around it. The tree grows because it has the 3 elements it needs. We can even visualize what it will be like when water, soil and sun do their thing, despite the wind storms and bugs.

Planting a tree requires a "knowing" that it will be bigger and better, given the right stuff. Starting down the journey of weight loss, or of fulfulling a dream, requires a "knowing" too.

We can't short change ourselves because we think we look like sticks. We WILL grow, we WILL change and we have to "know" it. We can't poison ourselves with negative thinking, because that will stunt our growth or cause damage to the people around us.

We have to treat our lives like that little stick in the 4 foot circle of soil. We have to get a vision of what we WILL look like. This is especially true with weight loss, but really applies to all dreams. We have to see it and put it in front of our eyes every day. It's easy to lose heart when the focus is on the details. There is always housekeeping, birthday parties, grocery shopping, errands, etc, but putting the big picture front and center in the middle of those things will help catapult us towards our goals.

"The road is long
There are mountains in our way
But we climb a step every day"
- lyrics from Up Where We Belong

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Next Thing on MY List

Jill Smolinsky wrote a book that will be a movie in 2009 called The Next Thing on My List. Like the movie Bucket List and the ever popular Ellen Show, this book focused on completing items on a life list.

Before I read the book, though, I checked out the author's website to learn a bit more about her. What I found was pretty cool. In 2007, she decided that every day would include something new, fun or challenging – and practically every day, she blogged about it:
(THIS is where I found the DON'T-nut picture in the previous blog)

At a Weight Watchers meeting a while ago, we discussed how writing goals and dreams puts legs to them. I left that meeting inspired, but couldn't think of what to write down. Instead, I wrote my mission statement. I felt that would give me a starting point and ensure my list had a general direction. Well, the list still didn't come and my pretty pink notebook that I bought just for that occasion began (literally) collecting dust on my nightstand. I started covering it up with books to bury the ugly un-done thing.

Then, along comes Jill's blog. Then, a friend of mine actually handed me Jill's book to read. THEN (yes, I'm yelling!), in my latest issue of Self magazine, there's several pages dedicated to life lists, their new-found popularity and how to write one.

So, instead of writing another blog, reading another chapter in my book or article in my magazine, I dusted off my pretty pink notebook and found a pen.
There are several side effects to writing a life list:

(a)You are allowed to dream. This is brainstorming at it's silliest, if you want. If I really felt passionate about donuts, for example *wink*, I could write down "Eat a fried Twinkie (just ONE!)" This is the time to ignore what you think it means to be an adult and let your mind wander – minus the worry of the how, when, where and money.

(b)You learn what's really important in your life. It's not so much what you write down, but the motivation behind it. By writing "Stay at my goal weight for 5 years" I realize what a long-term, scary goal that is, but it was the first thing on my list – and it's not about the weight. I also wrote down "Take Caleb to Disney World". Although I secretly want to go back, I can't wait to see it through his eyes.

(c)You can add any skill set you've envied in others. I wrote "Learn to parallell park." And under that was "Learn to spell parallel," which I was able to cross off as soon as I Googled it.

I keep my pink notebook dusted off these days. New things come to mind, some things I get to cross off – and I love checking things off immediately.

Do you have a life list success story? Leave a quick comment and let me know!

New to writing a list? Check out Jill's blog, watch Bucket List, get some pointers from WebMD:

Oh, I ate a fried Twinkie last weekend at the fair. It wasn't good at all. But now, I know (13 points later).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I'm so excited and I've got so much to blog about, but I'm going to take it one breath at a time. I don't want to overload my readers (not sure there really are any, but thinking you may be out there keeps me honest) and I need to pace myself.

Today's topic: Donuts.

For anyone who may not know, donuts are my weakness. And, for purposes of this discussion, let's also throw Twinkies and Little Debbie's in the donut category too. I've gone 10 months without a donut before, but the fact that I even kept track of how long it had been, speaks volumes.

One weekend in the summer of 2006, Tony came in from the garage, holding a mostly empty box of donuts with a weird look on his face. He stood there for what seemed like forever, just looking at the box. Then, looked at me and asked, "April, what is this?" My stomach dropped. He'd found my stash that I kept in my trunk. That particular box was one of two that I bought the week prior. I'd had a bad day at work, so I went home for lunch, stopping by the store first. I had a box of the mini white powdered donuts for lunch and one normal sized cinnamon one for dessert. The rest went in the trunk for an occasional nibble. It wasn't the first time I'd resorted to hiding them, but I knew this would be the last.

That's when I marched myself to Weight Watchers and changed my life – no donuts = 54 pounds gone.

But what do you do when the donuts don't go away? I'm 9 pounds from my getting back to my goal weight and no matter what I do, people still keep making, promoting and selling those things!

Last Wednesday, I was having a really rough day at work and instead of dealing with the issue, I casually took a walk. Instead of just walking around the building, I found myself at Starbucks. When they asked me what I wanted, I heard myself say, without hesitation, "Two apple fritters." I planned to save one, but we all know that I didn't. And, I felt pretty ill afterwards. One apple fritter is 11 points. In a world where my points target is 20….*sigh*

I thought my best bet would be to stay away from donuts forever – stop cold turkey – and I had a good streak. BUT, I ask again "What do you do when the donuts don't go away?!" I have to coexist in this world with them and clearly, denying myself only leads to binging. Then, I saw the photo above. I'll blog next about where I found it, but it changed my world.

"They're not called DON'T-Nuts!"

So, I decided to set up guidelines. As a reward for losing weight, on Monday mornings, I will by ONE Top Pot apple fritter from Starbucks. I will cut it into five pieces and each day, slowly enjoy that piece with my coffee and record 2 points a day. Now that they're not out of bounds, my prediction is that I will tire of this practice, but we'll see…..

"mmmmmm…..d.o.n.u.t.s….." – Homer Simpson

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Online Resources

I just created something cool. Although I don't really cook and am horrible at creating things beyond a recipe, I threw together something simple after talking to my coworker, Mickey. I crushed up 1 cup of fiber one, threw in some splenda and put it in a pie plate. Then, I added banana pudding (fat-free, sugar free) with sliced bananas on top. It was good and The Rickards got in their fiber!

Beyond my simple cooking skills, there are tons of websites that have awesome weight-reducing recipes and others that are great for research and fitness tips. I've listed a few of my favorites below. These websites are great at pointing me in the right direction and giving me new ideas and motivation.

I guess I figure if I got just the one body for the rest of my life, I'd use a bit of my spare time to research it and give it the best shot that I can. For example, the section below was taken from

"Blueberries and Aging
In a USDA Human Nutrition Research Center laboratory, neuroscientists discovered that feeding blueberries to laboratory rats slowed age-related loss in their mental capacity, a finding that has important implications for humans.

In one study, Jim Joseph, director of the neuroscience laboratory in the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center (HNRC), fed blueberry extractions—the equivalent of a human eating one cup of blueberries a day—to mice and then ran them through a series of motor skills tests.
He found that the blueberry-fed mice performed better than their control group counterparts in motor behavioral learning and memory, and he noticed an increase in exploratory behavior. When he examined their brains, he found a marked decrease in oxidative stress in two regions of the brain and better retention of signal-transmitting neurons compared with the control mice.

The compound that appears responsible for this neuron protection, anthocyanin, also gives blueberries their color and might be the key component of the blueberry's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Blueberries, along with other colorful fruits and vegetables, test high in their ability to subdue free radicals. These free radicals, which can damage cell membranes and DNA through a process known as oxidative stress, are blamed for many of the dysfunctions and diseases associated with aging.

These findings could become increasingly important as the U.S. population ages. It is projected that by 2050, more than 30% of Americans will be over 65 and will have the decreased cognitive and motor function that accompanies advanced age. Joseph is currently testing the effects of blueberries on humans. Preliminary results show that people who ate a cup of blueberries a day have performed 5–6% better on motor skills tests than the control group."

And, that's just blueberries! Watermelon is another superfood with crazy cool benefits. It's amazing how a diet can help or hurt us. I'm not sure my banana pudding/Fiber One creation has any super powers, but it sure tasted good and fell into Weight Watchers' Core Plan.

Oh! and if you were wondering, I was down another 1.4 pounds this week! That's just over 14.6 pounds lost in 19 weeks and I've just got another 9.8 to go. I'm movin', grovin' and having fun - thanks to the cyber help below!

Weight Watchers recipes -

Weight Watchers health (click Science Center for research and Fitness for, well, fitness) -

Self Magazine - fitness and diet stuff -

Hungry Girl - awesome recipes! -

HalfMySize - more creative recipes -

Fiber One - kitchen creativity in the form of Fiber! -

Dotti's Weight Loss Zone - also has more cool links -

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Holding On and Letting Go

We all have our stories and for me, weight happens to be the thing I deal with while I go through the trials of life. It's been a few rough weeks for me in the weight loss area. It's not that I've gained or totally fell off the healthy food wagon, *pause for that mental picture* it's just that I haven't felt successful. I found myself sabotaging my own efforts, knowingly. I would graze all night or go for the candy bars at work.

So, I finally sat myself down, looked in the mirror and started trying to figure out what my issue was. As I got closer to my goal weight in October, I sped towards it quickly. I worked out, ate right and felt great every day. So why was this time different? I thought about this weight that I'm trying to lose. I gained it while I was sick and pregnant. After the baby was gone, all I had was the weight. If I lose the weight, I'm losing the only tangible thing that was left.

However irrational that line of thought, once I got it out there and labeled it, I could deal with it. I recognize that holding on to the weight is not a way to honor that little life. I had to move on - AND, move on I did. I lost 1.6 pounds this week! Ironically, letting go of the weight is helping me to hold on.

"I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing
with a broken heart that's still beating
In the pain there is healing
In Your name I find meaning
So I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on
I'm barely holdin' on to You"

- lyrics from Broken by Lifehouse

Monday, June 16, 2008

On Saturday, I was doing great - and then, we went out to dinner. I got a really cool looking sandwich that I know was very high in points. Then I at all the fries.

Sunday morning, I was going to make waffles for Father's Day (with my low-point version), but discovered I didn't have the mix. So, at the last minute, I made a McDonald's run. Yep, I switched my order at the drive-thru to a McGriddle. I snacked the rest of the day on 100 Calorie Snacks and had two servings of low-point spaghetti for dinner.

This morning, I was starving, but I wanted to get back on track. I ended up buying a breakfast sandwich at the deli at work because I was far too hungry to make my oatmeal. By lunch, I was starving again and opted for the Cheeseburger at that same deli. Then, spotted a new candy bar - Twix with PB! Right beside of it was the Milky Way Dark. I decided to get one, but because I couldn't decide, I got both.

I've just finished the huge burger and both candy bars and besides ready to take a nap, I feel sick and a bit dizzy.

I have to admit, it felt good to eat without restraint. I didn't count points, write anything down or worry about portions. I spend so much time doing that every day, I sort of rebelled. Why should I have to do that? The majority of the population doesn't. The average size of an American woman is 14. What's wrong with average?

So, the angel April is here to answer the questions posed by the devil April above.

Eating without restraint is to eat out of control. Oddly enough, structure in your diet and life is actually very freeing. Just like boundaries make a child feel loved. If you care enough, structure and boundaries are necessary. Right now, you feel badly for bad food choices, which will lead to more bad food choices. This path is a downward cycle and you've been at the bottom; you've cried, screamed and yelled at the bottom. You've also clawed your way to the top. So, where do you want to live? Taking it a step farther, where do you want your son to live? What example do you want him to see?

And, really, you're pulling out "average?" You're not average. There's nothing wrong with average, but it's just not you. Anyone can be average - and most people are. BUT, you know that you can't decide to make your bed in average. You know that your hopes and dreams for Caleb are not in AverageLand. And, your mom's hopes and dreams for you aren't there either.

For my last point, I'd like to present to the court Exhibit A: your personal mission statement.

"The mission of my life is to appreciate simplicity; to dwell in a healthful mindset; to inspire and seek inspiration; to allow only me to create my definition of self; to relish in moments; to create where there is a void and create space where there is clutter; to seek to better my faults, but also appreciate my gifts."

In order to answer "Is it worth it?" you have to decide if this mission statement was just a writing exercise or something you intend to live by. Then, make your decision and let me know what's for dinner.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


If it's not apparent by now, I love Weight Watchers. I'll admit it and say I may even very well be borderline obsessed about the company. How could I not be? If an entity changed a life in such a drastically positive way as they did for me, anyone else would be just as in love.

6:00 am - July 29, 2006: I walked into a WW meeting room for the first time, weighing the most I'd ever weighed. I was tired and frustrated and finally decided my health was worth the cost of the meetings. I honestly thought it would be more like a complainers club for fatties. I was completely energized by what I experienced. I sat in a room FULL of people who were changing their lives - they were focused and determined. The longer I sat there, week after week, I began to catch it too.

I started getting it - WEIGHT is just the first half of their name - the rest is WATCHERS. Do you know what I watched from July 2006 to October 2007? I watched myself change. No, I'm not just talking about the 54 pounds and 5 clothing sizes that I lost. I'm talking about watching myself to stick it out. I watched my smile get bigger, my belief in my dreams grow stronger and my determination solidify. It was infectious to be around people who were training to run marathons - for the first time ever - or who were planning to climb a mountain - FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. This was a room where dreams were created, shared and achieved.

Life is a journey and I could have probably lost weight another, faster, easier way. I could have taken the pills again; I could have bought into the fads again. BUT, Weight Watchers allowed me to live my life, take my time, eat on my terms, mess up on my terms, get back on track, fall down, speed ahead, cry, rebel, get angry, mourn and all the while, learn to manage what I put in my mouth. I believe life not only throws curve balls, but also sometimes, just flat out intentionally beans us. We can't control the throws, but we can certainly control that bat. I give WW and the many meeting members credit for giving me the advice I needed to learn how to swing. I was armed with batting gloves, learned how to ignore the "hey batta batta" chants and make targeted, purposeful swings.

I say all of this now because last week, I attended the brief "orientation" for new members after the regular meeting. I honestly have the food system down and didn't ever really think I needed to review the basics again, but I saw something pretty cool. I watched 4 new members learning. I saw them at the starting line. I saw them asking questions about points and exercise. I got to see it through their eyes and I got excited. They are standing on the edge of an amazing life change ? if they'll let the determination bug get them too. And, I'm not talking about the weight they'll lose?.