My Fitness Pal vs. My Fitness Parent

As I mentioned a few months ago, I quit Weight Watchers and switched over to using My Fitness Pal. I had every intention of using it just like WW, tracking every single morsel that passed my lips, and I figured I would see the same results I had seen with WW in the beginning.

Then the holidays happened and I couldn’t bring myself to keep track of just how many cookies, M&Ms, Ferrero Rocher balls, and God only knows what else I was emotionally binge eating.

I think I am finally back on track now. I’ve been waking up at 6:45 every weekday morning (except for two) during the week to use the elliptical before work. This is HUGE for me as I love to sleep and need, like, 11 hours every night to not be ragey. I’ve been trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into my diet, while slowly phasing out all the cakes and wine — which has been more than a little problematic as my IBS has decided that pears (one of favorites) are no longer acceptable. I learned that lesson the hard way, and no amount of over-the-counter remedies worked to ease the pain. It was so bad one day that my boss had to send me home early from work because he could see what poor shape I was in. So, lesson learned. No more pears.

It’s been hard, you guys, and I haven’t been perfect, but I made a decision a few days ago (after some questioning from a friend) to make my food and exercise diary public on MFP. There’s something about having to own up to other people (even if it is just my measly 6 friends) about my food choices that makes me re-think if I really want to eat those four mini-Snickers bars before dinner.

The problem is that I think MFP is being a little over-generous in the amount of calories it thinks I am burning when I work out — being more of a pal than a parent, if you will. It tells me that for every 45 minutes I spend on the elliptical, I am burning 441 calories. I’ve just been accepting that as fact and only thought to question it recently when I wasn’t seeing the numbers on the scale go down quite as much as I’d like. I checked the elliptical itself and it tells me that 45 minutes is only 359 calories. That’s a big difference! That’s, like, an entire snack right there. I appreciate MFP’s generosity and encouragement, but I need the tough love right now to make this happen. I don’t need to be coddled, I need to be told that I can do more even though it feels like my legs are on fire.

I like being able to track my workouts and hold myself accountable, so I’ve had to start logging them at the end of the day, when I’m all done eating. That way I don’t think I have any extra calories lying around waiting to be consumed. I’m also back to my old WW way of tracking: enter everything in the morning so that I know exactly what the plan is for the day. This lets me know up front what I’m working with, and I’m less likely to reach for a snack if I know that it will definitely make me go over.

I weighed in this afternoon —  two days before official weekly weigh in day — and I’m down 1.2 pounds.

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Sometimes It’s OK to Be a Quitter

I took a big step last week and I quit something I’ve been doing for awhile now: Weight Watchers. In theory, this sounds like a bad thing, but I think it will be good for me. I haven’t tracked since sometime in mid-July and I’ve basically been throwing away $20 every month for nothing. Now, that’s not to say that WW doesn’t work or it’s a waste of money. It most certainly does work and I am proof of that. I’ve been and on-and-off member for the past 10 years and every time I join up again, it works. This most recent time, I went from 166 pounds to 134 – it took me a few years and a lot of work, and the numbers didn’t always move in the right direction, but still.

Before:

 

After (July of this year):

The problem is that I get bored and then I plateau. I need to change things up and keep my metabolism on its feet. I decided to give My Fitness Pal a try. I signed up for it way back when, when it first debuted and there was nothing in the database. I thought it sucked at the time. Now? Well, now it’s hugely popular and I have friends who use it and it has a TON of foods in the database (I’ve only had to add a couple really obscure things, but it even has most everything from Trader Joe’s already in there!).

I like that it gives me a breakdown of my carbs, fat, and protein intake per day and per week. It also shows me a breakdown of a variety of other vitamins and such so that I can really get a feel for where I need to cut back and what I need to include more. It provides a graph just like WW does, so that I can visually see my progress.

I’ve been using it for about a month now and although my weight is fluctuating, I’m seeing slight decreases. I haven’t been tracking religiously like I know I should, but I’ve been trying my best. I get frustrated when I go to the diner, for example, and I can’t figure out which “chicken quesadilla” to add from the list on MFP – so I give up and start over the next day. That’s probably a sign that I shouldn’t be going to the diner, huh?

I’m sure that at some point I’ll be a WW member again; I always go back to them. For now I’m taking a break and I think that’s OK.

Pinterest Pumpkin Muffins

I saw a super easy pumpkin muffin recipe on Pinterest that was so easy I didn’t even bother pinning it. All it requires is a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin. Seriously. It’s basically this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-pumpkin-muffins/.

A friend of mine recommended using spice cake mix instead of yellow, so that’s what I got. When I bought the ingredients last night, I forgot to buy a can opener so I had to wait until today to try them (By the way, don’t be cheap and buy the $2.99 can opener at Target because it doesn’t work. Now I’m going to have to go back and get the expensive one that I should have just splurged for in the first place.) I dumped the cake mix in a bowl, threw in the pumpkin and blended it together. It was a little too pumpkin-y for my tastes, so I added in some nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. I baked them at 350 for 25 minutes and they are just about perfect. I think I’ll leave them in a couple minutes longer next time because they’re a little mushy, but they taste fantastic. I think they’re about 2 WW PP, so I plan on having one for breakfast along with my morning banana. Yum yum yum.

ETA: Apparently they are only 2 PP if you make 24 mini muffins. What’s the point of that? A mini muffin is just going to make me think I can eat multiple because they’re small. Anyway, I made 12 normal sized ones so they’re like 4 points each, which sucks because I can’t stop eating them.

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The Year of Being Sick

I don’t know what it is about this year, but the hubby and I both seem to constantly be ill. Cysts, MRSA, allergies, colds, you name it. I’ve used five sick days at work already and I still have more than three months to go!

My husband started back to work a couple of weeks ago and he just found out last week that there is strep going around one of the schools. He developed a sore throat the next day. It progressively got worse and worse, but I naively thought that there was no way I would catch whatever he had. Sure enough, I woke up Saturday morning with a sore throat. I was pissed, not only because I knew I was sick, but because it meant having to cancel plans to see my best friend’s little sisters (who are actually MY friends now, how weird is that?!). They were supposed to come over, but I was scared that we were contagious and I didn’t want to spread this to anyone else.

I didn’t realize how badly I felt until Saturday afternoon when we went outside to cut the grass. I was weak and dizzy and just felt awful. That evening I went to the store to pick up some necessities:

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Sunday was much of the same. We went to church and then slept most of the day. I couldn’t sleep that night, and when I woke up on Monday morning, I knew there was no way I was going to work. The two of us spent the day lying around watching tv, napping, and sucking on cough drops. My throat continued to burn worse and worse, while the hubby had progressed into a nice hacking cough and nonstop sneezing. Around 4:00 I decided I needed to go to the doctor. After consulting Facebook to find out if antibiotics are absolutely necessary for strep (yay nurse friends!) I realized I needed to give in and get them. I really wanted to avoid them since I’ve been on so many this year alone, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I convinced the hubby to come with me and off we went. It only took 3 hours (note: sarcasm) but we found out that we have regular throat infections (not strep! Yay!) that should clear up with five days of super strong nausea-inducing antibiotics:

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I ended up staying home on Tuesday as well since I was still running a slight fever and felt horrible. I spent most of the day snuggled on the couch with my favorite things: tea, pajamas, and my penguin blanket.

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Six days later and I am FINALLY starting to feel better. I can swallow without crying, my nose has stopped leaking, and I’m not sweating buckets anymore. I’m hoping that a couple more days of rest and medicine will put me back at 100%.

As If I Needed Another Reason to Dislike Yardwork

We’ve been putting off doing something with the flower beds in the front yard ever since we moved in 9 months ago. The farthest we’ve gotten was raking some leaves out. Since we haven’t done any kind of maintenance, the two beds have become completely overrun with weeds.

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You’ll notice the railing is still broken. I think we’re going to have to call someone to replace the whole thing. Ugh.

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I hate this stupid plant. It flowered for, like, a week and then shriveled up and died and has looked like this ever since. Spiders love it, and they build webs between it and our cars. Unacceptable.

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I decided that I wanted to rip out everything except for the bushes and fill in everything with mulch. I figured I could do that on my own, while the hubby spent the day getting ready for the new school year. My dad offered to come over and help me, and we planned to start at 9am on Saturday morning.

I woke up a little earlier and went downstairs to get started. I had most of the weeds pulled out by the time my dad got there, so he worked on digging out the rose bushes and the larger roots. We were done with the right side by 10:30am but realized we were a little short on mulch. When the hubby and I originally bought it a couple months ago, we thought three bags would be more than enough to cover both sides. Ha! Three bags barely covered half of the right side. We went over to Home Depot, bought nine more bags, and headed back to the house.

Finished product:

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I think the angel statue has to go, but for now it does a good job filling in space.

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No more ugly plant! Soon there will be grass there!

After a short break, we got started on the left side. It should be noted that before we went on vacation, we discovered a yellow jacket nest over there. My dad poured boiling water down the hole and it seemed to do the trick. When we got home on Friday afternoon, however, we noticed that they were back. This is foreshadowing.

I started ripping out flowers and weeds on the side closest to the neighbor’s house, while my dad started cutting down the rose bush. I went inside for a minute to put some sunscreen on my face and when I got back outside, I started to wonder if maybe we should have done the boiling water thing again. Just as this thought entered my mind, my dad started yelling and jumping around. He ripped his gloves off and threw them down, while some very colorful words I had never heard him say before came flying out of his mouth. He was stung, so I tried to usher him inside the house to wash it out and get it taken care of. Those little bastards were swarming all around him and about five of them followed us into the house. He ended up getting stung three times: on his finger, on his arm, and on his hip (one of them got stuck in his shirt). I got stung on the back of my thigh. It was the first time I’ve ever been stung by anything and WOW. I had no idea how much it would hurt! We both downed a couple Benadryl, put some frozen vegetables on our wounds, and killed the remaining culprits flying around in the kitchen.

He ended up going back to Home Depot to get some spray while I sat inside and got progressively more drowsy from the medication. We cleaned up outside and called it a day. I took a shower and went to bed to sleep off the medicine. I slept from about 1pm until 6:30pm. By 10:00 that night, I could barely keep my eyes open. I had called my dad around eight to see how he was doing and he was also complaining of feeling unusually tired. We talked about going to the ER but ultimately decided we were ok for now and we would see how we felt the next morning. I was in bed by 11 and slept straight through to the next morning. After church I went back to bed and slept for the entire afternoon. The pain had mostly subsided by that point, and I was just left with some annoying itching.

We went over to my dad’s for a Labor Day BBQ and we were both a mess. He was so tired that he said he was nodding off while sitting down watching tv, plus he was complaining of aches and pains all over. The hubby consulted Dr. Google and we determined that we weren’t having an allergic reaction, we would take more medicine and regroup in the morning. I talked to him a little while ago and we both feel SO much better. I’m still itchy, but not nearly as bad, and my fatigue has reduced to my normal level. He isn’t as achy and isn’t tired at all anymore.

The spray doesn’t seem to have slowed down the little buggers at all, so our plan tonight is to flood them out with the hose. I read some other suggestions online involving gasoline and homemade flamethrowers, but the nest is a little too close to the house for us to start playing with fire.

I Should Be on That Show ‘Mystery Diagnosis’

I’ve had a scary few months. It all started probably a year ago (maybe longer since I can remember it starting around the time my mom passed away)… I noticed a small pimple on the inside of my left thigh, near my knee. I didn’t think much of it since it didn’t hurt and I had had something similar on my right shin back when I was in high school. I saw a dermatologist about it and was told it was nothing and would probably go away by itself eventually, which it did. There’s some scarring, but the bump itself has disappeared.

Anyway. Sometime around the beginning of this year, I shaved over the new bump. It bled, so I put some Neosporin on it and kept it covered with a band-aid. This went on for quite some time and it never seemed to get better. In fact, it seemed like it was getting worse because the center turned very dark, almost black. I left it alone and tried to ignore it, but it didn’t change.

I finally went to see my doctor about it in March. He took a look at it and told me it looked like a cyst that had gotten infected, and he thought that it had probably turned into an antibiotic-resistant infection. He said I should see a dermatologist and have it removed. I found the number of the derm I saw several years ago for my acne and made an appointment for the following Tuesday. I told her the story and what my doctor suspected, but she told me it wasn’t a cyst, it was just a skin infection. She drained it (ew) and prescribed a topical antibiotic. She told me to use that for a couple of days, and if it didn’t get any better, she also gave me a prescription for an oral antibiotic. I started the topical on Wednesday and by Saturday morning, it was looking worse. The area around it was starting to get red, and it was starting to hurt. I filled the oral antibiotic that morning and started taking it immediately.

By the following evening, I had a fist-sized red, swollen lump on my leg and I could hardly walk because I was in so much pain. I couldn’t sleep because it hurt so bad, so I finally decided to go to the ER at about midnight. Luckily we live literally down the street! The triage nurse told me it was definitely infected and sent me to the back. I explained the whole situation to the doctor and he didn’t seem all that concerned. He left and a nurse came in, who told me that he thought it was a boil. What? Do people still get those?? Whatever, I felt relieved that someone finally put a name to it. The doctor came back and gave me the first dose of a new antibiotic and told me to follow up with my derm in the morning. My discharge papers said I had cellulitis.

I went back to the derm first thing in the morning and told her what happened. She told me to stop taking both antibiotics and wrote me a prescription for antibiotic number three. She drained the boil again (ew and ow), drew marks on my leg and told me to call her if the redness spread beyond the lines.

I finished the antibiotic and the redness and swelling disappeared, but it definitely did NOT look good. The whole area now looked kind of bruised and yellow. When I took a shower, it all turned purple and black. I saw her again and she told me how fantastic it looked, that it was healing, and that the discoloration was normal. She told me the infection had been very deep and it would take a long time to heal.

Fast forward to the beginning of May and it still didn’t look any better. I went back to my doctor and showed him what it looked like. He couldn’t believe it. He said it looked like I might have MRSA and that I would need to try ANOTHER antibiotic and then possibly go see an infectious disease specialist to be tested for various infections, Lyme disease, etc. The medicine, doxycycline, tore me apart, but I was terrified and was willing to take anything to get rid of this thing. I started Googling MRSA and sent myself into a complete panic. I was convinced I was going to die.

I finished the doxycycline and went to follow up. He said that since it still wasn’t gone, there HAD to be something else under there. He wanted to rule that out first so he sent me to a different derm. This one took one look (literally) at my leg and told me there were two cysts under there. He took them out (turned out to only be cyst remnants) and sent them out for testing to determine if it was infected, or skin cancer, or something else. He stitched me up and told me he doubted there was any infection at this point, but that the discoloration would probably never go away due to the “trauma” the other doctor inflicted on me.

The tests all came back negative (yay!) and I got the stitches out a little over a week ago. The blackness is gone, and there are no more bumps, but it looks like I have a vampire bite on my leg (the nurse even made that comment, LOL).

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I’m VERY relieved I don’t have any crazy kind of infection because I was dreading having to go to the hospital and have IV antibiotics. Thank God that didn’t happen. I can live with a couple of weird red marks. It’s not ideal, but I’ll take that over anything worse. I asked my doctor why I keep getting cysts (I have one in my neck, one in my boob, and now there were these two) and he told me that unfortunately some people are just prone to them. He assured me there is nothing I’m doing to cause them, nor is there anything I can do to prevent them. I may have to deal with them for the rest of my life, but he said as long as I get them checked out right away, I should be fine. As long as they’re not causing me any pain, it’s supposedly fine to leave them where they are. I may have the other ones removed, although I’ve had the neck one removed once before and it came back almost immediately – which I’m told is common – so I’m not sure there’s any point.

Weight Watchers Update

So far I’ve lost 5.4 pounds on Weight Watchers after 4 weeks. Although I know this is a healthy pace, I’m also disappointed that number isn’t larger. I’m disappointed in myself because I haven’t worked out at all, with the exception of getting on the elliptical a couple of times. I haven’t been able to do any type of exercise the past couple of weeks because of my stupid infected leg, and I’m starting to get antsy. I thought being forced to lie on the couch and be a lump would be great, but I find myself wishing I could get up and just go for a walk outside. It was so nice last week, and I couldn’t even enjoy it. Although my leg seems to be getting somewhat better, I think I’ll probably be stuck lying around for at least another week until it’s completely healed.

On top of that, the antibiotics are kicking my ass. I’m on day 9 and although I’ve definitely had worse reactions in the past, I just don’t feel well. They exaggerate my stomach issues and make me feel generally yucky all over. I have 2 more days to go with this prescription, but I have a feeling I’ll be given another round when I go back to the doctor on Thursday morning. As long as I don’t have to go to the hospital, I’ll deal with it and be thankful, I just wish this was over already.

I’ve been eating horribly the past few days, too. On Friday, we ordered Chinese food and I got General Tso’s Shrimp, which I ate for dinner and for lunch on Saturday. Saturday night we didn’t feel like going out, but we also didn’t have much in the house so we had an “appetizer night” and made a bunch of Trader Joe’s stuff: mac and cheese bites, mini chicken tacos, sweet potato fries. Sunday, we went to my in-laws’ after church and I had two rolls with cheese, then we ordered pepperoni pizza for dinner. Today I didn’t have anything for lunch so I came home and had two chicken tamales. Dinner? Leftover pizza. Seriously, what is wrong with me? I need to do a better job of keeping healthy stuff in the house so I’m not tempted to eat so badly. I’ve run out of veggies, except for a bag of green beans, and just stocked back up on yogurt and bananas today. If I can’t do any type of exercise, I need to at least eat better. I’m pretty sure I’m going to see a gain on Wednesday morning and I have no one to blame but myself.

Unintentional hiatus

I don’t know why I stop writing when I actually have stuff to write about. I get overwhelmed and then just walk away instead of trying to sort things out and get them out of my head.

Also, I’ve been less motivated to write much since I made my blog password protected. I got really paranoid when I saw a huge jump in visits after the articles about Christina came out and I didn’t want a bunch of people rummaging through my life trying to find bits and pieces about her here. I also didn’t want them judging me on anything I’ve posted, so I thought it was better to make it all private except for a select few people whom I actually trust.

SO. Here is what has been going on:

1) I went to the doctor a week and a half ago about a small pimply looking thing on my leg. It had been there for quite some time, but it looked infected because the center was dark. My doctor said he thought it was a cyst that would need to be removed, so he sent me to the dermatologist. She said that it didn’t look like a cyst, just an infection, so she squeezed all the gunk out of it (and dug around with what felt like a needle) and wrote me a prescription for a topical antibiotic. If it didn’t improve in a couple of days, she said, go fill the second prescription for an oral antibiotic.

It didn’t work. By Sunday night, my leg was so swollen and red and painful that I was debating sawing it off just to make it stop. We drove down the street to the ER (literally, we can see the hospital from our back door) at midnight and were the only ones so they saw me right away. The nurse said he thought it was a boil, but the discharge papers say cellulitis, which as far as I can tell is a fancy name for what could be a very scary skin infection. They gave me a second antibiotic and told me to go see my dermatologist in the morning.

She drained it again, with anesthesia thank the Lord, and told me to forget the other antibiotics, and gave me a third prescription. She drew marks on my leg and said if the redness spreads beyond them, I have to call her. If these meds don’t work, I’m looking at being admitted to the hospital, so let’s all keep our fingers crossed.

2) Our second wedding was this past weekend. It was very nice and I did ok with it even though there was a part during the ceremony where I had to bite the inside of my lip to keep from crying. The priest read an Irish marriage blessing which I thought was so fitting and something my mom would have loved. I decided to wear one of Christina’s bracelets and a necklace my mom gave me in order to have them both with me. After the ceremony, we picked up a bunch of pizza and wine and had the family over. It was fun and relaxed and perfect.

3) My in-laws bought us living room furniture, which I love. It’s almost exactly the same as our old set. We moved the old hand-me-down furniture into the living room, and the new comfy stuff into the family room. We’re going to be moving the computer desk out of here and into a corner of the living room, and then I want to get a rug for in here as well. Right now it’s tiled, which is cold and hard and awful. Then the room that we spend 95% of our time in will be furnished, and all we’ll have left to do is hang pictures and decorate. It’ll be nice to have one room that is completely done and OURS.

4) I need to find a new job. We’re not getting raises this year, but we are getting more responsibility, and I’m just tired of working somewhere I hate and being talked down to by stupid travel agents for very little money. If I’m not going to enjoy my job, I should at least be making more money to make it worth my time and unhappiness. As soon as the husband gets a contract for next year, I’m sprucing up my resume and throwing it out into the world.

I’m sure there’s more. I have a bunch of pictures to post, but I have to find time to edit them first. I’m hoping to practice more now that it’s getting nicer out.

I can do this.

Despite eating horribly this past week: no green smoothies, no vegetables at all that I can recollect, chips, fries, fried chicken, rice, soda, fettuccine alfredo, too many of these…

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…and too much of this…

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… I still somehow managed to lose 1.1 pounds.

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I’ve tried to do 20 minutes on the elliptical everyday, but I’d be lying if I said I was successful at that. I did get up and do it this morning and then did 10 minutes of WiiFit hula hooping, which I haven’t done in well over a year.

I’ve been thinking about the past two times I was successful at losing weight and what I did then that helped me. Back in 2005, I got up to 144 pounds (I know, the horror) and thought I was huge. My dad also wanted to lose a few pounds, so we both started doing Weight Watchers (I knew someone who used to do the program, so she gave me all of her booklets and info) and we would work out everyday. We would walk on the treadmill and do those 8 Minute abs/arms/legs videos. I lost over 20 pounds in 3 months and kept it off for 2 years. I had gained a little back that I wanted to lose before my wedding in 2007, so my husband (fiancé at the time) and I started walking 2.5 miles everyday, and I got down to 128 in time for the wedding. That is when I felt the most comfortable in my body, and that is my goal weight.

Two years ago, right before the summer of 2010, I was up to 166 pounds. I started doing WW again, got on the elliptical everyday using the “weight loss” preset, and weighed myself everyday on the WiiFit after doing some of the yoga, hula hooping, and stepping. I lost about 16 pounds in a couple of months.

I have the tools to do this. I have an elliptical in my basement, I have a WiiFit in my living room, I have a blender to make green smoothies, and I know how WW works. I know what I should and shouldn’t be eating. I know what proper portion sizes are. I’ve done it before and I’m going to do it again. I’m happy with my additional 1.1 pound loss (that’s 2 pounds total since I started) but I know it could have been so much more if I would just discipline myself. Imagine if I had eaten more veggies and less junk this week. I think I’m finally motivated enough to do this correctly and succeed.

Coming clean.

My friend Michelle is one of those people who always tells it like it is and isn’t shy about her opinions. I admire this about her because I’m always so preoccupied with what people are going to think that I hold back a lot of my emotions and opinions. She wrote a great post today about healthy living bloggers and being honest.

She mentioned that she ate 14 cookies this weekend and that she is an emotional eater. So am I! I feel inspired to start being honest about my eating habits – maybe posting them out here on the internet will make me more accountable.

This weekend I ate:

Friday – a kashi granola bar, chicken parm sandwich and fries, 4 slices of a medium pizza from Carabbas along with some bread and olive oil, an entire bottle of chianti, and 4 very large chocolate chip cookies.

Saturday – two pieces of bread (to soak up the alcohol, duh), two pieces of leftover pizza, at least three more of those cookies, mandarin orange chicken with rice.

Sunday – leftover chicken lo mein, two english muffins with butter and jam, potato chips, hors d’oeuvres, chicken taquitos, two slices of pepperoni pizza, two giant cookies.

Today – a kashi granola bar, a turkey sandwich with swiss cheese on a roll, three pieces of Russell Stover chocolates, one piece of random white chocolate, mandarin chicken with rice and broccoli. There are cookies in the oven.

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I can’t keep eating this way. Not only am I never going to lose weight, it’s just unhealthy. I need a more balanced diet with more fruits and veggies.

I got on the elliptical for 20 minutes today and I feel proud of myself. It’s not much, but it’s a start.