Pretend To Be Thin!

         Several years ago a very kind friend loaned me a copy of  Gwen Shamblin’sThe Weigh Down Diet” – a Biblical approach to weigh loss. Being a student and follower of Jesus, I was anxious to read it. I didn’t have a dramatic weight loss at the time but I did gain a few great concepts from Gwen’s experience that would later serve me well. One of those I would like to share with you now.

     Gwen relays a story of observing a thin friend for “research purposes”.  This is the excerpt from the book.

     I began to think back on my own experiences with “thin” friends. My weight battle is not a new one. I lost 70 lbs as a young teen. This weight loss began as a result of “pretending” and I kept that weight off until the battle with thyroid cancer in my 20’s.

     I attended a summer camp where most of my roommates wer very thin. Some of these girls had modeling backgrounds, others were athletes, such as gymnasts and dancers. I was, by far, the heaviest in the group. I didn’t want these girls to think that I was heavy because I over ate, so I ate like a skinny person for those two weeks. I would eat a bowl of Cheerios with skim milk for breakfast. For lunch I would eat a main dish only, like a hamburger with no condiments or stir-fried meat with veggies and no bread or dessert. It was extremely hot that summer – 104 degrees average temp during that two-week period so by dinner time, after having walked all over campus and having done calisthenics, I had no appetite. I would usually have only a beverage or a beverage and fruit for dinner. I was not setting out to lose weight, but I was active and eating like I thought these skinny girls would think I should. By the end of the two weeks this overweight teen had lost enough weight that her shorts wouldn’t stay up without a belt. After the two weeks I found that I like the feeling of being thinner and the attention  I received from loosing weight.  The attention and sense of accomplishment filled the same “void” the food had previously filled. I wanted to be thin. I wanted to prove that I had control over the food and my body. In a few months time I went from a size 14 to a size 7 by “pretending to be thin”. I simply ate very few calories and moved A LOT.

     As time went on I maintained a low weight, but I worked for it. I would eat 1000 calories a day or less and exercise in obscene amounts. One weekend while spending the night with my best friend, a naturally thin size 3 track star, I began to realize how different her habits were from mine. I measured my foods and ate at planned times. I moved by design. Not her.

Pre weight loss 8th grade homecoming pics of my naturally thin best friend and I.

     After dinner, over the course of the evening, I watched her go to the fridge several times. Each time I refused sustenance. Once she pulled out a jar of spaghetti. She ate a few bites and feeling satisfied returned it to the fridge. Hours later she made a sandwich, ate about half and threw the other half away. In a few more hours she whipped a bowl of whipping cream, ate a few spoons full and washed the rest down the sink. She talked of running. She ran for fun or when stressed or when she wanted to find alone time. Her activity was motivated by the activity itself, not the weight.

After the weight loss - Best friend Vicki and I with our dates at our Junior Prom.

     Now as a middle-aged woman I look back on these examples and I think how much I have to gain from emulating the examples of the thin people I know. I have a weight issue and need to be aware of it, but these naturally think folks have some real tricks up their sleeves without even knowing it. They eat when they are hungry or craving food and believe it is ok to eat only what they want. They don’t fear “wasting” and apparently aren’t members of the “clean your plate club”. They are in tune enough with their bodies to recognize satisfaction from a taste or from having “enough”. They understand “enough” instead of believing they are thru only when they simply can’t hold anymore.  They often eat slowly, enjoying each bite. They experience their food as opposed to inhaling their food. They may sometimes eat foods that aren’t good for them, but these are often in small amounts.

     If you aren’t in a skinny frame of mind yet, it’s ok. Just pretend. This week you are an actor or actress studying for a very important role. You are getting ready to portray “thin, healthy person”. Try to imagine how “Ideal You” at your ideal weight would eat and impersonate her. Try eating healthy whole foods. Enjoy lots of veggies and whole grains. Add lean meats and low-fat dairy. Enjoy dessert of fresh fruit. Indulge occasionally, but only enough to be satisfied. It’s ok to pretend. You might just be amazed how far it will take you.

     Take Gwyn’s suggestion. Spend some time this week watching a naturally thin friend’s behaviors. Learn how people who are thin fill themselves physically. Then imitate those behaviors.

     I encourage you to read “The Weigh Down Diet” and learn more about the “missing key” Gwyn references above. In truth overeating is often the result of trying  to fill an emptiness that is often misinterpreted as hunger, but lies much deeper. We each have an empty space in our hearts that only God can fill for us. Allowing him to fill it instead of trying to stuff it full of other things is the key to permanent weight loss for many of us. If you feel an emptiness that you aren’t sure how to fill, I encourage you to pursue Him. Read “The Weigh Down Diet” to really understand how God can change us from the inside out.

Skip The Salad?


     Yesterday I went over my calorie goal for the first time since the new year. 29 days of successfully limiting my calorie intake to under 1600 a day and yesterday I went over by almost 40o calories? How did this happen? I blame it on the salads.

     I hosted a women’s meeting potluck event at my church last night and I ate just a bite or two each of several salads and a small piece of Weight Watcher’s Peanutbutter Pie. When I got home I looked these salads up on the web and did my best to estimate their caloric intake. The pie was only 120 calories but some of the salad were as much as 270 calories for a 1/2 cup serving. I sabatoged myself with the salad.

     I love Salad. I especially love salad with no lettuce, lots of cucumbers, carrots, onions, cheese, beets, ham, bacon, and ranch dressing. Needless to say, my favorite salad isn’t very healthy for me. So, more often than not, I skip the salad.

     Salads, done right, can be healthy, flavorful, and low-cal options – but only if done right and more often than not they are not. Early in my dieting days I would often choose a salad as my dinner when eating out. It sounded right. You always hear people talk about eating salad when on a diet. I thought it must be the low calorie option and I wasn’t alone in this misconception. An April 2011 Time Heartland article intitled “When Is A Salad Not A Salad” discusses this problem. 

     “Over time, dieters learn to focus on simply avoiding foods that they recognize as forbidden based on product name,” said authors, Caglar Irmak, assistant professor of marketing at University of South Carolina; Beth Vallen, assistant professor of marketing at Loyola University Maryland; and Stefanie Rosen Robinson, a graduate student at University of South Carolina, in a statement [PDF]. “Thus, dieters are likely to assume that an item assigned an unhealthy name (for example, pasta) is less healthy than an item assigned a healthy name (for example, salad), and they do not spend time considering other product information that might impact their product evaluations.”In a series of experiments, the researchers asked participants — some who were dieting, some who weren’t — to evaluate the relative healthfulness and tastiness of foods, and measured those ratings against how much people consumed. In one experiment, people were asked to imagine ordering from a lunch menu and to gauge how healthy either the “daily salad special” or the “daily pasta special” was. They were given ingredient lists and photos of the entrees, which were actually exactly the same — both contained romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, red peppers, pasta shells, salami, mozzarella cheese and a savory herb vinaigrette. Both totaled 900 calories, with 60 grams of fat. The only difference was that one was called a salad, and the other, pasta.

     The label alone was enough to influence the dieters’ — but not the nondieters’ — ratings. When the product was called pasta, the dieters rated it as significantly less healthy than non-dieters did. Interestingly, however, when it was given the “healthy” name, salad, it led to no difference in rating between the two groups. (But, overall, dieters believed the same dish, when called salad, was healthier.)

     As I began to count calories for myself, this truth became aparent. Often a “salad” offered at a resturant would have double the calories and fat grams of a similarly priced and more hunger satisfying meal option. For example, an Applebee’s Bruchetta Chicken Salad sounds healthy but is over 1100 calories while their entire Roasted Sirloin Dinner with portabella mushrooms and creamed spinach is under 550 calories. Is the salad really the better option?

     Clearly some salads are better options than others. The WebMD article Myth or Truth: Salad Is The Best Diet Food compares a couple of resturant salad’s and points out that the “fixins” make the diffrence.


     “Consider: A chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s (loaded with salad dressing, croutons, cheese, and chicken) will set you back 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat. On the other hand, a Chick-fil-A chargrilled chicken garden salad with fat-free honey mustard dressing has only 230 calories and 6 grams fat.”

     Some of the salad’s I experimented with last night seemed harmless. One was bok choy with a clear dressing, some almonds, and a little bit of ramen noodles. It looke harmless but turned out to be over 500 calories a serving. It was awfully yummy but not filling enough to make an entire meal on.

     Many resturant salads also sound like a nutritious choice but then are loaded with topping like croutons, bacon bits, and high fat dressings. When unhealthy main dish meats like deep fried chicken and processed deli meats are poured over lettuce and presented as a “healthy option” you should opt out.  Think before you order. Weigh the options. If possible pre-plan your ordering looking at calorie count online ahead of time.

A personal favorite that I think is filling and every bit worth the 560 calories, Wendy's Apple Pecan Grilled Chicken Salad.

     I don’t want to discourage you from eating flavorful raw veggies in great combinations. Salads can be a healthy, yummy, low-cal choice but watch out for the “add ons”. If you decide you want a delicious salad stick to one that is mostly veggies with lean meat, egg, low-fat cheese, or other healthy options topping it. Choose a low-fat, low-cal dressing or skip the dressing and opt for salsa (available at most resturants and often as little as 10 calories for 1/4 cup) or sprinkle your salad with a little salt and pepper. If you love a creamy dressing and feel it’s a must, order it on the side and dip the tines of your fork in the dressing before picking up the salad. This way you get some of the flavor on every bite, with fewer calories than drowning the whole plate.

     Do you think you can pick a healthy salad option? Click on the picture below to take the Slick Salad Quiz at to check your diet IQ.


Stay The Course – Week 5 Recommitment


     If you read this blog daily, you may notice that there are some things about Sundays that are a bit repetitive. That’s no accident, you know.  Part of our success  is rooted in keeping our goals and the steps that will get us to them very present in ours mind. Thus, we revisit them at least once a week.

     We are now entering week 5 of the new year and I am beginning to see all around me that this is a crucial time. During week 4 of  the new year, as I’ve chatted with friends from our Slimdown With Sandee Facebook group and read the blogs and articles  written by others across the world-wide web, I began to see a theme. This is a weeding out time. Around the end of month one we begin to see what we’re really made of.

     Fellow blogger, Mandy of Staying on Course talks about “Dealing With The Motivation Drop” around the end of month one. See if her sentiments sound familiar.

“It’s inevitable.

You know the moment I’m talking about – when, despite doing well for however long on your eating well and being active goal, you lose any motivation. You get rebellion in its place. Instead of choosing the apple for a snack, you brazenly pick up a chocolate bar a the checkout, knowing that you don’t really need or want it but darn it, you deserve it. You go out for dinner and you deserve to order the massive pasta dish, or chips on the side, or dessert. You’ve been working hard, you deserve it.

And so begins the back slide (no, not backside, although that grows too). You wake up after a big night of eating out and you’re still stuffed, but instead of listening to your body, you keep eating. And who wants to work out on a stuffed belly? Not you, so you take a day off. After all, you deserve it.

Soon enough, you misplace your gym card and your hand weights in front of the TV are gathering dust. Your treat meals go back to being your regular meals and any pretext of deserving it goes out the window.

This usually happens for me after a month because I start seeing scale results quickly as I drop water weight, then start ignoring the scale and focussing on my clothes, which fit so much better. I feel great! So obviously, I lose motivation.


Yeah, that makes no sense to me either. Surely when I’m doing well I should be hella motivated? You’d think but alas not. This is the time I have to fight to stay on track, to convince myself that I deserve better than junk food and sitting on the couch, that my body deserves to be active and fed well. Last week was not a good week eating-wise (other than the fact I ate lots of yummy food) and I ended up sitting more than moving, but it’s okay. This week will be better because I’m not letting the motivation drop Have any more of my energy.

I’m trying to focus on following through more this year and actually doing all the things I think of. Like making more friends and going out more. Like exercising more and writing more. Focusing my efforts instead of surfing the web or flicking channels while propped up on the couch. Television can wait. My health can’t.”

     “Staying the course” is the key. Were you only into the weight loss program when it was new and shiny? Was weight loss for you like for so many others, “So January!” or are YOU, like Mandy and me, ready to recommit for the long haul?

     People come into weight loss endeavors excited and optimistic. The first week the weight seems to fly off as we lose those “water weight” pounds. Weeks two and three often offer big rewards as we are still enjoying the “newness” of our big plans – new books to read, new foods to eat, new exercise routines.  Folks are vowing to  lose 100 lbs this year by running 5 miles every day, living on 1000 calories, eating no carbs, and so on…. but in time these unrealistic steps lose their luster, real life sets in, and we begin to gravitate toward our old ways if we aren’t careful. The scales begin to slow a bit in their decline and some of us might even see a pound or two appear to creep back up on us. If our “to do” list is too long, we will begin to feel too much pressure to perform and be discouraged. If it’s too short we begin to feel over confident and over estimate the results of our efforts. If we had decided we were going to run a marathon but are out of breath walking around the block we might stop all together rather than re-writing the plan. If one bum weigh in, missed workout, or double dessert day threw you off track are you ready to get back on? Decide now. Are you going to succeed? If you are ready to change your body and your life RECOMMIT. Take out your Inspiration Journal, evaluate your goal, and comitt to the change you know is possible. Put it in writing. Revisit it often. Commitment means working the plan even when it’s hard, frustrating, or complicated. If you are only willing to work for better health when it’s “convenient”, you aren’t ready yet.

      I AM READY.

     It’s time to revisit my goal. The goal? “To weigh 135 lbs by 12/31/2012. (That is a loss of approximately 40 lb in 1 year). As I view my progress does that goal still seem realistic? According to the Weight Tracker  I am still on track with my progress even with no additional poundage loss to report on Wednesday last. I weighed in at 169.8. If I was 172.4 I would be on target, so I am still ahead of the game. I believe my goal to be quite realistic and very attainable.  The goal stands as is.

     The action steps for last week read as follows. “I will continue to limit my daily caloric intake to 1600 calories, focusing on good nutrition in my choices. I will continue to speed walk no less than 8 miles during the week and included at least one combined toning and cardio exercise session. I will officially weigh in once this week, marking my progress on the Weight Tracker tool.”

     My action steps seem to be working well. My highest calorie intake day was 1600 calories and my lowest for the week was 1215. My original plan was 1300-1600. I find that I am often satisfied on less than 1300 calories so I shoot for no less than 1200 (which is still a safe calorie intake) and no greater than 1600. The nutrition is fundamental. I eat lots of veggies, fruit, lean meat, low-fat dairy, and whole grain. I attended two Zumba classes and walked 10.5 miles this week, so I more than met my 8 mile goal. I did a Leslie Sansone 3-mile Walk Away Your Waistline workout with toning bands that allowed me to tone while I walk and a one of my Zumba Fitness With Angel classes was a Toning Class. It felt really good  so I am doubling my toning requirements for next week. The scales didn’t show the progress on Wednesday, but when I went to put on clothes for church my hubby and daughter told me they didn’t fit. I don’t measure inches like I should but I know over the course of the last 4 weeks I have dropped a size. I had to buy a couple of new suits this week to get me through until the next drop. I am now proudly sporting size 12. Yay me! The action steps are very do-able and are getting results. These will remain the same except for the extra toning session.

     I successfully did everything on my To-Do List except 8 hours of sleep every night. I struggle with this. I have always been a night owl but with the new work schedule if I don’t force myself to bed early, 8 hours just isn’t happening. Often I find that I get really involved in a project or interested in a movie and don’t want to go to bed. Other times I really put in the effort but my body doesn’t want to cooperate . I’m also a mom and wife so sometimes the needs of others make it complicated. I will keep this on my list and will continue to try to improve. I am already successfully using camomile tea and lavender oil to help me get sleepy. I probably need to turn off the tv, computer, and my brain a little earlier this week and see how that goes.

     As I look back over the last weeks Inspiration Journal and blog entries I find that it might be helpful for me to officially add times of affirmation and aromatherapy to the To-Do list. Maybe I need to schedule a day of rest as well so I don’t fail to make the time for “down-time”. I already have a few servings of fish as part of my weekly menu plans and have the Omega-3 tablets on the To-Do List starting last week, so my To-Do List for Week 5 looks like this –

To-Do List:

1. Plan Weekly Menu (See Plan To Eat Fabulous Foods.)

2. Grocery Shop (See Stocking The “New Me” Pantry.)

3. Refill Snack Basket (See The Real Food Fight .)

4. Weigh In (See Weigh In Wednesday.)

5. Organize Outfits and Gear (See Get Your Rear In Gear.)

6. Rehearse Daily Affirmations (See Think Yourself Thin.)

7. Enjoy Energizing Aromas Before Workouts and Meals (See Slimdown With Scents.)

8. Speed Walk a Total of 8 Miles

9.  2 or More Toning/Cardio Sessions (10 Ways to Increase Your Metabolism)

10. Take 2000 mg Omega 3 Daily (See Go Fish.)

11. 8 Hours of Sleep Nightly. (Breaking The Barrier)

12. Track Exercise in Miles or Minutes Daily.

13. Keep a  Daily Food Log with Calorie Counts.

14. Enjoy a Rest Day. (See Balance.)

15. Grade Last Weeks Efforts (See A for Effort.)

16. Assess Past Week’s Efforts (See Assess for Success.)

17. Create next Stepping Stones Sheet

     Now it’s your turn. Get your goal in front of you. Clearly outline your primary action steps for the week. Make a to-do list that you can look at daily to make sure you are getting everything you need to succeed. Make a plan. Make a commitment. Stay the course.

Size DOES Matter!

     Just as the media has distorted our view of an average healthy body type, the fast food industry has distorted our view of proper portion size. When we purchase a fountain drink we walk out with something that takes two hands to carry as opposed to the 8 ounces poured over heaps of ice in a paper cup I remember drinking from growing up. When we order a “sandwich” for lunch it isn’t served on a couple of slices of bread from a standard loaf. It’s served on 1/2 a foot long loaf, and that’s if we order the small.

These images are from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and are designed to show examples of how portion sizes have grown over the last 20 years. To view their entire slide show on “Portion Distortion” click on the picture above.

      With this “portion distortion” so frequently in front of us, do we even know what a healthy portion size of the foods we eat looks like? Below is a link to a fun little quiz from Prevention. Click on the picture below and play the game to see what you really know about proper portions. Watch out for the bonus round, those questions are tough. Even with “studying up” I missed a couple. Let me know how you do.

     We can use the size of common items as a reference for how much to eat. A serving of meat  should be roughly the size of a deck of cards and a piece of fruit the size of a tennis ball. A serving of veggies or should be about a cup, which is also about the size of a tennis ball. A proper sized serving of grains should be about the size of a hockey puck or half a tennis ball.  A proper dinner plate should be half filled with veggies and only 1/4 meat and 1/4 grain. Eating dried fruits or nuts? Just as much as would fit into a shot glass (a helping about the size of a golf ball) is enough. These comparisons to common items make it easier to remember proper portion sizes. It might take a while to memorize them all, so Prevention has handy charts that you can print and keep on the fridge or in your wallet for reference. Take a minute now to print yours out.

     Don’t let “portion distortion” interfere with your weight loss efforts. Learn to eat the foods you love in the proper amounts and weigh loss will come much more easily.

A neat little tool for gaging portions. Purchase yours at

Go Fish!


     In 1o Ways To Increase Your Metabolism we discussed the metabolism boosting benefit of adding Omega 3’s to your diet but there are other reasons to consider adding fish to the menu. Those same Omega 3’s can help reduce cholesterol, improve circulation, and improve heart health. It is also believed that Omega 3’s can help reduce the risk of some cancers and help aid in improved brain function. In addition, fish is a great source of lean protein and if cooked in a diet friendly manner can be very low in calories. Getting enough lean protein helps you stay full longer and along with exercise will help you build lean muscle. Seafood is rich in minerals like iron, zinc, iodine and selenium. Fish is also an excellent source of vitamins such as riboflavin, B2 and vitamins A, C and D. Thus it can help you keep bones, teeth, eyes, and skin healthy. Consider adding at least 2 servings of fish or seafood to your weekly menu plan.

     For some Heart Healthy Fish Recipes try Chef Meg’s favorites from SparkRecipes. Looking for ways to make better seafood choices when eating out? Read Men’s Health article 15 New Seafood Swaps For Weight Loss. Want to know which fish dishes are enjoyed as part of the Johnson Family menu? See the yummy items listed below.

     We enjoy Gorton’s Grilled Salmon or Tilapia once or twice a week. These low-calorie fish filets are usually served with frozen veggies like Pictsweet Schezwan Asparagus and Green Giant Honey Glazed Carrots. Dessert is usually fruit. We might have a Dole Mandarin Orange cup or Del Monte Peaches. Yummy. Gorton’s Grilled Shrimp is especially delicious on a fresh salad of lettuce, tomato, carrots and cucumber with a light vinaigrette dressings and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.

     StarKist pouches make enjoying lean protein quick, easy, and convenient. With no refrigeration needed these can be kept out in the snack basket, tossed in a lunch box, or kept in the desk drawer. Tuna Salad, Tuna Creations, or Chunked Tuna – you choose. These can be enjoyed straight from the pouch or for a few additional calories enjoy with bread and make a 1/2 sandwich or serve over fresh salad veggies to make it more of a meal.

     On the rare occasion that I opt to snack while watching tv I sometimes opt for the Kroger Sushi. This “no raw fish” seafood treat is low in calories even with a little soy sauce or wasabi. My favorite so far is the California Roll. I can eat 9 pieces for under 300 calories.

     A frequent lunch time treat from the seafood world is Campbell’s Chunky Healthy Request New England Clam Chowder. This is hearty and delicious and a 1 cup serving is only 130 calories.

     Eating out? I recently discovered a new seafood rich favorite at Olive Garden. Seafood Brodetto combines tilapia, scallops, and shrimp with spinach and mushrooms in a light white wine sauce. This became an instant favorite for me.

     Tony’s favorite restaurant is O’Charley’s. One of my very favorite dishes there is the Cedar Plank Salmon. This has such a nice flavor and is served in large portions. It is very much worth the 530 calories, but I usually eat 1/2 the fish along with 1/2 my veggies and take the other half home for a second meal. Yesterday, Tony and I split this dish, halfing the calories and sharing the joy. Want the meal all to yourself but looking to take in fewer calories? Enjoy the Cedar Plank Tilapia for only 280 calories.

     When we still had a Texas Steakhouse in Christiansburg, I used to eat lunch there frequently with friends. Now that the closest locations are Roanoke and Princeton I don’t get to enjoy lunch there very often. I miss their Blackened Tilapia, a delicious 144 calories according to Calorie Counter.

     Even fast food fish joints are getting in on the healthier side of seafood. Long John Silver’s has some tasty options on their Fireside Grille Menu. Captain D’s has a Salmon Salad that is very diet friendly as well.

     Have fun finding your new favorite fish dishes! Let me know what you decided to add to your weekly menu.

Disclaimer: No Disney Characters Were Harmed In The Writing Of This Blog Post.

SlimDown With Scents


     Does the smell of fresh-baked cookies make you hungry? Does the fragrance of lavender make you feel relaxed? Does pine scent take you back to playing in the woods with friends as a child or gathering with family around the christmas tree? Our sense of smell is a powerful thing. I have been told that of our 5 senses, smell is the most likely to quickly bring back a memory or evoke strong emotion and I believe it. I have often been transported back in time by a whiff of baby powder or cedar.

     I love fragrance. I enjoy burning scented candles, have airfreshners in almost every room of my house, and am easily swayed to purchase everything from aromatic herbal pillows to scented magic markers. Who doesn’t enjoy a pleasing aroma?

     I have some good news for those of you who are “fragrance fiends” like me. Your sense of smell may also be able to help you lose weight. Today I want to briefly discuss the use of aromatherapy for weigh loss.

     Aromatherapy, in short, is the practice of using fragrant essential oils and other natural aromatic compounds to promote healing and health. This is a fascinating topic. I feel sure I could blog about it everyday for a year without running out of applications to investigate; so please know that the information I am providing is by no means exhaustive. We are going to get just a glimpse of how aromatherapy can be used to aid us in our weight loss efforts.

One of my favorite scented treasures is an herbal neck pillow that our family received as a gift from Tony's very thoughtful sister. It is full of aromatic herbs and can be microwaved to provide warmth to neck and shoulders. I enjoy using it at bedtime to make me sleepy or the next day after a workout if I'm sore. Sometimes I wear it just to feel cozy and warm. I don't know where ours was purchased, but the one above is listed at

     A while back I had an appointment with a nutritionist to see how changes in my eating habits might affect some health problems I was struggling with. This nutritionist, who was studying to become a practitioner of aromatherapy, also made some great suggestions about adding the use of essential oils to my daily routines. I believe this helped both directly and indirectly in my weight loss efforts. Aromatherapy can help with weight loss in two major ways. First, it can help suppress appetite – thus helping directly. Second, it can be used to address underlying issues that contribute to our weight gain such as stress, anxiety and depression – helping indirectly.

     I began to use lavender to help me sleep and to lower my stress levels. Sleeping better improves the metabolism thus promoting weight loss. I began to use a citrus combination to help increase energy, thus making it easier to work out with gusto. Peppermint and grapefruit were added for appetite control, making me feel less hungry. Less Hungry? How does that work?

     Have you ever noticed when you do the cooking you are less hungry by meal time than if you simply sat down to a meal someone else has prepared? This is true even if you’re not nibbling as you go. One theory behind how essential oils help with appetite control goes right along with what you noticed here. Research indicates that our sense of smell and our appetite are very much connected. Not only can aromas make us hungry but they can also help us feel full. The idea is that if we smell something just a little, like the fresh-baked cookies as we walk past the stand in the mall, it makes us feel hungry. However, if we smell certain pleasing aroma for long enough we begin to feel satisfied by the aroma. Since fragrance is a part of the taste experience, this theory suggests that we can derive enough pleasure through the scent to need far less of the actual taste to feel satisfied.

     At it’s explained like this “When you inhale an essential oil, its microscopic molecules directly affect a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. An area inside the hypothalamus called the “satiety center”controls feelings of hunger/fullness.The satiety center ‘reads’ certain essential oil molecules as a signal that you are full. And the good news is, this happens much faster than your brain gets the signals from your stomach telling you you’re full – so you feel full sooner!”

     There are several different oils that I have seen recommended for appetite control. I have personally used grapefruit and peppermint oil. I like these because they can also be used before workouts to help increase energy. In addition I am told vanilla, dill, clary sage, ginger, cumin, fennel, lemon, patchouli, sandalwood, spearmint, bergamot and ylang ylang work well for appetite suppression.

     How do you use these scents once you have them? They can be sniffed by themselves or in combinations. They can be whiffed directly from the bottler or you can use an aromatherapy inhaler or diffuser. I keep it simple, being pretty much a novice. I use one fragrance at a time and I sniff directly from the bottle. I was taught to inhale deeply 3 times in each nostril really taking in the scent. In order to make sure you suppress not stimulate your appetite you want to make sure and repeat the aromatherapy inhalation several times over a 5 minute period. Less can be counter productive. Enjoy aromas before meals, whenever hungry, or when you have specific cravings that are hard to say no to. You can use a single scent, scent combinations, or alternate scents within this 5 minute period. Keep scents available. Carry scents with you and/or keep them handy in places where you are likely to use them like at your desk at work, in your car, and in the kitchen.

     I’m sure the science behind aroma therapy would really stress using these natural oils and I do but I’m not a purist. I love to shower with energizing citrus scrubs in the morning or bathe in warm lavender bubbles at night. I also burn scented candles in energizing fragrances like lemonade during the day and relaxing fragrances like ylang ylang at night.  I love to surround myself with pleasant scents. They just make me happy!

     Take some time today to research aromatherapy on the web. Have fun looking at the different scents and their reccomended uses. Consider ordering a few or picking a couple up at a local health food store, like Annie Kay’s in Blacksburg. (Sandee picks up a vial and inhales) “Mmmmmm…..Peppermint…..that smells gooood!”

On my personal aromatherapy wish list - apothecary necklace and/or ring which can be used to carry my scents with me. How cool, mysterious, and Midevil.

Weigh In Wednesday – Funhouse Mirrors

      I hope you found the scales more kind than I did today. Mine still sat where the were last week – EXACTLY! I have stuck to the plan. I haven’t gone over my calories even once, have worked out MORE than the plan called for but and taken appropriate days of rest. I am doing everything “right”. How dare the scales not CONFIRM me.

     In the intrest of science I weigh daily, even though I don’t reccomend this for the average dieter. A couple of days ago I weighed 1.6 lbs less than last week and today. Just a reminder to us all that the scales are fickle. lol


     As we go into official weigh in #3 I allowed myself to be momitarily sidetracked by a bit of levity and thought I would share it with you before getting very serious.  Below you will see some weigh-in suggestions from the fine folks at the Weight Watcher’s forum at .

Weigh In Tips

Before leaving home:
1. Nurse the baby (I skip this one most of the time since I don’t have a baby)
2. Remove nail polish.
3. Clip fingernails and toenails (to the quick!).
4. Pop all pimples
5. Tweeze all unwanted hair from face.
6. Shave legs, underarms and any other part of body which looks like it needs it
7. Loofah to remove dead skin
8. Remove ribbon from hair
9. Get a hair cut
10. Donate blood and any other fluid that can be removed without police involvement.
11. Blow nose.
12. Clean lint from belly button and jam from between toes.
13. Pee
14. Poo
15. Weigh clothing and dress accordingly
16. DO NOT SWALLOW AGAIN UNTIL AFTER WEIGH-IN, carry a cup to spit in!

Upon arrival at Weight Watchers:
1. Pee
2. Remove hand lotion and makeup
3. Remove contacts
4. Remove unnecessary ‘hidden’ articles of clothing
5. Blow nose again
6. While in the restroom, carefully examine body for anything which might be removed including warts and moles
7. Pee again – at least try!
8. Remove shoes, work ID badge, jewels, belt, socks, suspenders, etc.
9. Empty all pockets
10. Can you pee again? If so, do it!
11. Slowly step on the scale
12. Hold both arms straight and reach for the ceiling
13. Pray
14. Exhale completely; don’t forget there is air held in your lungs that usually doesn’t get expelled; find someone to hit you in the chest hard enough to ‘knock the air out’ of you.

After weigh-in:
1. Catch your breath
2. Blame the results on whoever you can — if necessary.
3. Get dressed
4. Sit down and stay for the meeting
5. Learn something new!

     Ok, guys and gals, I’m sure we all chuckled a bit but I totally get it. Weigh in’s bring out an almost irrational desire to prove something. That “number” becomes all important. Let’s get things back in perspective. This isn’t the final episode of The Biggest Loser. There’s  no money riding on this and no one is going to kick us out of the house. The number is merely one indicator of how we are progressing in our goals. What we want here is an honest evaluation of how the efforts we have put forth in the last week are affecting our health and composition. No smoke and mirrors people. Lets keep it real.

     But do we even know what REAL is when we are talking about weight, health, and body composition. How do we determine what is ideal? Many of us have an inacurate view of our current state so how can we possibly expect  to stay realistic and ballanced in our evaluation of our progress.

     My husband, Tony, shared with me today a blog entry from Against The Grain entitled “Women Slimmer Than They Think?” This is what it says.

     In a classic case of society deceiving itself, Australian women are actually slimmer than they think they are but men commonly overstate their muscular bulk. This is the conclusion drawn by psychologists at Deakin University who spent the past four years studying how men and women feel about their bodies. Using computer images of distorted body parts, 100 women and 80 men of all shapes were asked to adjust the silhouettes to match their own. Deakin’s head of psychology, Marita McCabe, said women felt they were larger than their actual size while men over-estimated their muscle mass. Participants also were asked to adjust the body images to an ideal size, with men choosing a female body shape larger than the “perfect” figures depicted in the media.

     This is facinating but not particularly suprising. We’ve had guy friends who as they gained weight simply told themselves how great they looked for that number on the scale. In contrast I know women who I would trade bodies with in a second who see themselves as heavy or paunchy. These body image issues don’t always lie across gender lines, however. 

     I remember chatting with a very chubby middle aged mom who proudly anounced, multiple times throughout the conversation that she wore “juniors” sized clothing. I’ve no doubt she did as her clothing was way too small for her frame. Her belly poured out over the waist band of her low rise jeans and her too small top proudly displayed a poochie midrift. She saw herself as a 19 year old size 9. What she was was a 39 year old with a “broken mirror”.

     I’ve know women who were super thin but thought of themselves as overweight and struggled to eat less. Some of these women didn’t understand that the amount of weight on their frame wasn’t what they were dissatisfied with but rather their composition. Overweight and under-toned aren’t the same thing. Some folks need a diffrent exercise routine much more than a diet in order to be a more “ideal self”.

A picture of model Katie Halchishick with plastic surgeon's marking inicating what would need to be "cut away" in order to give her an iconic Barbie Doll body.

     Then there’s the person who is fit, firm, and healthy but still sees someone inadequate staring back at them when they look in the mirror. I’ve not only known these people, I’ve been that girl. When I was in my early high school years I lost about 70 lbs. It was very exciting and I enjoyed watching the numbers drop and getting more and more fit. I was putting in 4 miles at the track, doing 300 sit-ups, lifting weights, and more all on a 1000 calorie a day diet. The scales kept dropping until at 113 lbs my family showed concern. I was slender and toned but I could never quite reach ideal. No matter how much weight I lost, how many miles I jogged, or how many situps I did I always saw fat calves and hips too wide to fit into my desired size 3. Someone else always had larger breasts, a higher butt, or smaller thighs. No matter how low the numbers went on the scale it was never enough. I was good at losing weight, I was addicted to the numbers and I still wasn’t “perfect”. I had a “broken mirror”.

    I’m going to get a little transparent with you. I’m going to give you a very intimate view into a piece of what the weight struggle and accompanying self esteem issues have been to me. Below is a poem that my husband Tony wrote several years ago. It makes me weep everytime I read it. I share it, hoping someone else may be blessed by knowing this struggle is not unique to them.



Across the room I see her, barely, in the dim morning light, standing there, waiting, calculating…
I try not to look at her, but steal a glance. She is staring at me, waiting…
She doesn’t smile, she never does. She just waits quietly for me…
I do all I can to avoid her, to make the peace last. But I know I must face her. 
Wash my face, brush my teeth, get dressed, hair, shoes… Isn’t there anything else I can do? But she just stands there… waiting…
I’ve put it off long enough; I can’t be late today, so I walk up to her. I look up… our eyes lock…
“Shall we begin?”
She speaks with a thousand voices, all of them critical, nothing is right. Nothing is good enough nor will it ever be.
“This is too big ” – Yes ma’am.
“This is too small” – Yes ma’am
“This is the wrong color.” – Yes ma’am.
“Wrong, wrong, wrong!” – Yes ma’am
“Can’t you do anything?” – No ma’am
She sees every flaw. She knows every mistake. She reviews them all.
She is the woman in the mirror, and she is always right. I know because she said so.
My husband says she is a liar. He is not afraid of her, but I have known her longer than I have known him.
She says he is just being nice. But there are times when I wonder…when I doubt…
When he stands behind me, arms around me, looking at her…
She seems afraid of him, and very small.
“No! You’re the one who’s wrong!” She doesn’t blink… She is unimpressed…
I have made half-hearted challenges before… but not today.
I summon my strength, my courage… I rush at her, and she at me…
The collision of fact and fallacy sends pieces through the air… and they land on the floor.
Pieces… everywhere…Pieces…
So I look to see where she was.
She just stands there… waiting… and I realize…I have not shattered the mirror…
The mirror has shattered me.
My husband hears me…
He comes to find me… in pieces on the floor
He gathers my pieces…lays them on the bed… and starts putting me back together…
Piece by piece…
So many cracks… so much worse than before…
But he holds me… and loves me.
And for the first time I see…
He has more cracks than I do.
And then I realize how he knew she was lying.
And she just stands there…
Terrified… Of both of us…



      Having this history, it is very important to me that I stay healthy in my view of my current weight and my goals for the future. I believe that it is irresponsible to stay at a very high weight that puts me at risk for illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. I owe the God who made me and the family who loves me putting in the time and effort to work to stay healthy. On the other hand as much as I want to look nice, I don’t buy into the belief that I have to be a size 3 to be pretty. Beauty is so much more than the number on the scales or the size of my jeans. Beauty is in being healthy, happy, loving, and authentically me.


Girl Wit The Crooked Mirror

by Paul Coleman

I know a girl with a crooked mirror
She saw her face through the crooked lines
She said Mother you’re my believer
Can you help me to see me a I really am?
Help me to see that beauty lies in me
So be my mirror and I’ll see that beauty lies in me
She said ain’t it a mystery that I can believe
In somebody else’s beautiful dreams
But here in this mirror the image is broken
I wish I could swallow the love I receive
‘Cause I can’t believe that beauty lies in me
When your mirror’s broken it only makes sense
To rely on opinions from others
Now this girl was lovely with beautiful features
But words like these they don’t come from your friends
And her thoughts deceived her so she played follow the leader
And she said be my mirror and I’ll see that beauty lies in me
He came along where she was weak he was strong
He took the mirror and he threw it down and whispered
Look at me I’ll help you see the beauty I believe
She said be my mirror and I’ll see that beauty lies in me
I know a girl with a beautiful family
And they’re her mirror they shine like love
She’s finding peace as a wife and a mother
This healing road that she’s walking on
She sees her reflection in her young boys eyes

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