Progress Pics

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Woke up Friday morning feeling kinds sore throatish and head achy and it went downhill from there.

I am better today but not up to a full post.

I just wanted to post a quick check-in so that you didn't think that I had locked myself in the basement with a bag of oreos and a gallon of milk. LOL

Other than being sick, everything is ok. Will post more tonight or tomorrow.


Stay strong my lovelies!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hot 100 -- Third Update! And a new Award!

Steve over at Log My Loss is trying to help us stay focused and motivated during these last 100 days of 2009. Visit his blog and check out his motivation for Monday posted this week -- awesome! Steve is the man! Thanks, Steve

Here's my Hot 100 goals and how I did since my last report:

Exercise a minimum of 5 hours per week - As I posted earlier this week, I sucked ass at logging my food and exercise this past week. I have already turned that around! I have really been enjoying the autumn walks. A combination of having lost weight coupled with the cooler temperatures makes for less sweating and makes breathing easier.

Eat foods rich in omega-3s at least 3 times a week - I nailed this one again too.

Complete all three months of the ChaLEAN Extreme fitness program: Well, this will take another 8 weeks, but so far, so good. This program guides you in using heavier weights with proper form. I LOVE THIS!

Consume at least 5 fruits and veggies per day - I did it!

Eat 5-6 small meals per day - I improved on this over last week. I was hungier for some reason so was able to do it without a prob.

I mentioned a month or so ago that I thought I needed to give up artificial sweeteners because of the symptoms I was having. Well, I was one of those people who was constantly drinking crystal light or diet coke or coffee. I ALWAYS had a can, bottle, glass or cup in my hand. Once I gave up the aspartame I became conscious of just how much I was drinking sweet-tasting stuff constantly, day and night.

On this vein--I have a small victory to report! I simply can't give up my morning cup of coffee and I tried Stevia -- quite frankly -- YUCK! It tastes bitter to me. So I decided to have one, maybe two cups of coffee per day prepared as I like it, and drink water the rest of the time.

So every morning I have one or two cups with real sugar and real cream! YES! And ya know what? Not only did it NOT affect my weight loss but I lost MORE from my waist this past month than I did previously.

So this goes to show that we can consume just about anything in moderation and still lose weight. We just have to stick to the planned amount and not go beyond that. I am so proud that I can do this in moderation! It is a huge accomplishment for me!

I work from a home office and the deadly part of that is that my kitchen is always just a short walk away. I used to drink coffee by the POT and would often make a second pot of decaf in the afternoon and down that too-- and I like it light and sweet. I bet I was consuming 1,000 calories a day just by what I put in my coffee and how much of it I drank.

Anyway, this wasn't part of the Hot 100 but it is an accomplishment I am proud of so I thought I would include it.

I am honored to have received another award for my blog. I wish to thank Helen and Sandra for this Cat's Meow award. Of course, I will pass this on! You don't have to do anything in particular when you receive this award, and of course, you can pass it on!

If I read or comment on your blog, consider this award bestowed upon your amazing self and post it on your blog with my gratitude for sharing your journey with the rest of us. But I did want to mention a few recipients by name, as with the last time, I tried to focus on people who don't already have the award so that we all feel loved. LOL

Patsy over at Musings on a 100+ Weight Loss Journey

Kiki over at Overhauling Me

Greta over at Big Bottom Blogger

Steve over at Who Ate My Blog?

Josh over at A Personal Journey of Fitness and Fat Loss

Ron over at Ron is Getting Healthy

Becca over at THE FINISH LINE

Ok, I could be here all day listing people. Spread the love my friends! Thank people for putting themselves out there and sharing the ups and downs of their journey! I realize the guys don't always like to display these awards, but, that's ok, I'm giving it to you anyway.

I've been super busy and a little stressed but this coming week looks like things may ease up a bit, at least temporarily.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kitchen Items Needed

Crystal Little Moon and her husband Michael have two baby girls; Kaitlin age one and Lovetta age 2. They live on Pine Ridge and recently left their trailer home unattended for a week as they had to visit a relative in another part of the rez.

When they came home, someone had broken into their home and stolen all of their pots, pans, silverware and even food. If you have any spare kitchen items to send they would certainly appreciate it.

They could also use clothes and toys for the girls-- good used stuff is fine.

Her kids are small, Kaitlin is a size 12 months and size 4 shoe. Lovetta wears a size 24 months or 2T and a size 7 shoe. Lovetta especially needs pants.

If you have anything to send and/or are willing to try to round up some stuff, let me know and I will send you their address so that you can ship directly to them.

I am swamped with urgent requests right now and thought I would put this out there and see what happens. Thanks everyone!

Time Management & Getting Caught Up

We had these for dinner the other night and they are pretty good. We aren't vegetarians but we eat meat less than we used to and we're always looking for low-calorie alternatives to fish. We got these at TRADER JOE'S and I would buy them again.

Well, since I started this journey back in March, things have gone pretty well. I've always known that eventually something would happen and I'd be challenged more---- that time has come.

The issue is not food or exercise but TIME MANAGEMENT and record keeping. Last week, I ate right but did a half-ass job of logging my food. Same thing with the exercise, I squeezed it in at odd times but did not record it properly.

Each year, we select three Lakota families who will be helped in the month of December. This decision is made in October, so last week I was pouring over the family info sheets and had numerous conference calls -- I think some days, between the conferenece calls and my usual calls I was on the phone 6-8 hours a day.

Another thing I noticed was an urge to OVEREAT and to eat the wrong things. I didn't binge or run out to buy candy -- but the DESIRE was there for the first time in a long time. It was easy for me to connect this to the decision about the families to help. The final decision is mine and with so many sad and difficult stories it is not an easy process.

I can delve into my memory and "see" myself in prior years, sitting at my desk with files spread out all around me EATING (ALWAYS EATING), talking on the phone, crying, etc.-- all through the decision-making process. Yikes, no wonder I put on another 20 pounds every winter.

The good news is, I came through all of this with no mindless eating and I did squeeze in exercise but recorded neither very well. Consequently--- for this past week, I am only going to log myself for two hours of exercise.

DH suggested that maybe I no longer need to log my food as I just went through a very stressful week, didn't log my food and did not binge. I still think I need to do it for awhile though. I need that accountablility or I may slowly start drifting toward larger portions.

I was given another award by two of you (thank you) and I promise to put that up and pass it along before the weekend.

I am about to go out for my walk and I WILL be recording it, as well as my food . LOL

The BIGGEST LOSER last night had one of the teams going home for the week and it was as if the episode were custom made for me and the sort of week I had. Yes, life can be stressful and BUSY. Kids and jobs can be demanding and time-consuming. But we HAVE to eat right and somehow prioritize exercise so that it gets done. And if we promised ourselves that we'd record our food and exercise, we simply have to do it.

Anyway, I was too busy yesterday to read your blogs so I will be getting caught up with that today. I hope that you're all doing well.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lakota Crafts Project

Haye Good People,

Last week I posted about the deplorable conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation and also touched upon some of the things that my friend and I do to make a difference.

This post will give you a basic outline of the who, what, where, how and why of what I do and will include info to help you get involved if you choose to do so. This will be a long post with a lot of photos of the kid’s craft items and of some of the families we help.

If you aren’t interested in this subject, you will find likely this post tedious and boring. If that is the case, I suggest that you skip my blog for today! But if you have interest, grab a cup of coffee or tea, pull up your chair and get comfortable, as this will be a LONG post. Get ready to learn all about the “LAKOTA CRAFTS PROJECT -- Where Gifts give twice.” which is what we named our eBay store.

We’ve been selling crafts on eBay for the kids (and sometimes elders) since February 2006. Prior to that we sold the crafts at pow wows and craft fairs, and we still do this to some extent.

We never wanted to co-mingle the kid’s craft money with our personal money, so we created a charitable trust account that has a checking account and a debit card attached to it. This is called the WHITE FEATHER CHARITABLE TRUST and is not the same thing as the non-profit we are beginning to form. The crafts project existed long before we ever thought of starting a non-profit. We may merge the two, or not. There are pros and cons in doing so and we are still thinking about it.

The name WHITE FEATHER for the trust account is in honor of the medicine man who was pouring water at the first sweat lodge that I ever attended. He is the first Lakota person whom I ever got to know and I will forever be grateful to him for many things, hence the name. Anyway, I am getting off track here already. LOL

In terms of the ebay sales, we pride ourselves on keeping our prices low and providing excellent customer service. Also, these are “spiritual” items to us and we pass them on with spiritual intent and prayers-- although the buyers on eBay are not aware of this.

Lakota people generally don’t speak publicly too much about spiritual things and also I don’t want to make our eBay listings seem hokey, so I don’t get into that aspect too much. Let’s just say that the eBay buyers receive much more than they realize. (If they only knew, LOL).

In terms of the materials used, I have spent years networking with people all over the country to get free or low cost supplies to help us keep prices low. For instance, people who keep parrots and macaws donate feathers. Men who hunt turkeys generally just throw out the wings and tail-- instead they can send them to us and the kids will use the feathers in crafts. Hence, there is a chain of generosity and good will attached to these items. Resources and efforts pass from hand-to-hand, are turned into a craft item by the kids, are sold by me and finally purchased by someone like you-- who either keeps the item to personally treasure it-- or passes it along as a gift.

Most of the craft items have a native, if not specifically Lakota theme and use natural or recycled materials. We avoid sources that are inhumane. For instance, “farms” that raise fox or other animals for their fur--we won’t buy fur from there. If someone donates craft supplies the kids will use them no matter what, but we personally do not support “fur farms.”

Feathers, deerskin, fur, bone -- these are used to make medicine bags, hair ornaments, prayer fans, jewelry and other items. When something dies-- it can either return to the earth or it (parts of it anyway) can be used to make something useful or beautiful. Thus, native crafts allow an animal or bird to continue life here in a new and beautiful form.

Traditionally, you’d treat these items with great respect, as if the animal were still alive. I could say more on this, but not today. You are all smart anyway and most of you are pretty spiritual and/or earth friendly-- so I am certain that you are getting all the layers in what I am saying here and I don’t have to write a book and spell it out for you.

Here’s a good place to share some pics of the kid's work and of some of the kids themselves:

Feather hair ties are one of our best selling items. I usually put them up in lots of five.

Necklaces like these are another item I commonly have available. This one was made by Nina Chase Alone, age 12

A horse necklace by Nina

Artist at work

Nina modeling a medicine bag she made

Medicine bag with buffalo fur on the front and buffalo tooth on the flap. We commonly have buffalo bags, usually similar to this one.

Wooden trinket box painted with hawk

This was a custom-ordered prayer fan

White fox medicine bag

This medicine bag was made by a 12-yr old. I think she did a great job

So many beads, so little time

Turkey wing prayer fan with buffalo hair

kangi Pejuta - Crow medicine

Mato pejuta - Bear medicine

This spiral theme is common and seems to sell well

Our bags often come with goodies

I fell in love with this buffalo bag last year and nearly kept it for myself! LOL

Macaw Prayer feather

Coyote Face bag. These are a good size and a popular item

This style of bag is commonly made by Jessica Chase Alone who is 15-years old. Later today, I'll be listing a bag that is similar to this, but has an agate horse as the focal. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the look of heavily fringed bags. This one was another that was hard for me to sell.

Someone bought this literally within minutes after I listed it. Pretty, Huh?

Abalone shell hair ties

Jesse, Margaret and Kelly Grass - These are good kids. Jesse drew a buffalo that we're using as a logo for the non-profit we are forming (Ahopa- Friends of the Lakota Nation) .

Here's Jesse's buffalo drawing

This one was done by Kelly

Arlette Loud Hawk

The image of a hawk wood burned onto a wooden box

Elaborate prayer fan

More to know about eBAY: My ebay user name is "Mitankala" which means Little Sister in Lakota, and the store name is the Lakota Crafts Project. I get at least one box of crafts per week from the rez so I am constantly listing new items. I have a ton of new stuff and will be listing a lot this week. During the holiday season I sell ornaments made by the kids and should have some soon. I have placed a link to the store in the sidebar on the right so that it will be easy to find.

If a particular animal hide is not allowed in every state, it cannot be listed on eBay or you risk getting the boot. For instance, BEAR pelt is not legal to own in all states so I cannot sell bear pelt medicine bags on eBay. But I DO HAVE bear pelt medicine bags, crow smudge fans and
other items that I cannot list there. So if you want something in particular and don't see it there, please ask me.

For my friends overseas: My eBay account is set to only accept bids from those living in the USA. Many countries have customs laws about animal pelts and feathers coming into their country and I had a HUGE headache with a European buyer over this.

IF you know that customs in your country won't seize the items, please contact me through one of my listings, say that you know me from here and ask me to place you on my exemptions list. Once I place you on the blocked bidder exemption list in my eBay settings, the system will always recognize you and allow you to bid on any of my items even though you don't live in the USA.

Christmas: If you're buying something and it is to be a gift, let me know when you are paying for the item. I'll include a note to give with the gift explaining how/why it is a gift that "gives twice" and why you purchased from us. It's a nice touch and let's people know what your values are and where your heart is.

Buy with confidence: After nearly FOUR YEARS of selling on ebay our feedbback is 100 perfect, as is our detailed seller rating. We work hard for these kids but we also strive to make positive buying experiences for the customers. You don't think of buying something as a spiritual experience--but we try to make it that way as much as possible. We ship quickly, usually within 24 hours of payment; and we package the items nicely, include free gifts and pics of the crafters and their families, etc.

We aren't merely selling "items" but providing an opportunity to do something positive for all concerned. You can feel good about sending your friends and family to our store to do some of their Christmas shopping -- and we hope that you will!

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO: Each year, we select several Lakota families and try to make sure that they have a Christmas to remember. We also help as many as we can with heating fuel-- South Dakota winters are harsh and the people cannot afford propane every time they need it.

Each year we set up a chip-in page from October to Christmas to raise as much as we can for this objective. I am already being inundated with calls about families who are freezing! You can help by:

Visiting our Chip-in page to get the widget and placing it on your blog. Alternatively, you can email a link to our chip-in page to your friends and associates. I'll put the widget in my own sidebar-- check it out over at the right.

The 501 3c: Although we are in the process of forming a non-profit and have non-profit status at the state level, we haven't yet filed the federal paperwork -- so it would not be legal for me to request "donations" for our fledgling organization.

But it is perfectly legal for me to set up the chip-in page and appeal to my friends to help me in this effort. So that's what I am doing.

Another thing you can do to help is to buy environmentally-safe products from Let's Go Green and 25% of your purchase price will come to us for our work with the Lakota. I put a link to the Let's Go Green site in the sidebar on the right. At check out, designate us as the recipients - Ahopa - Friends of the Lakota Nation. They are pricey but for those who want to help this way, it is another option.


If you are a well-networked person who knows a lot of the kinds of people who would like these crafts, you could have a holiday open house to sell the crafts. I'd send you a box of stuff, you'd set a date for an OPEN HOUSE, invite your friends, sell the stuff, and send the money back to the trust fund in care of me.

This isn't worth the effort unless you're pretty sure you could get at least 15 people to stop over and buy something. Otherwise, we are just tying up items that could be sold elsewhere. And there's no point in your cleaning your house and opening your home and doing all of the invites if it isn't going to pay off.

This takes trust on my part as I am sending out hundreds of dollars worth of items and acting on faith that the kids will get the money for it. I've never been ripped off yet, thank heavens. I could get enough crafts together by November/early December to have a couple of people do this. Some lead time to get the kids working harder would be appreciated. Email me to start a dialogue about this and I'd be happy to send you my phone number if you want to chat.

It's a nice thing to do during the holiday season. People get unique gifts made with love and in the process they help someone be self-supporting when they otherwise wouldn't be. It's good for the earth as we recycle items and people aren't driving around to the malls --wasting gas and buying the same crap that everyone else is buying. It's nice to be a part of someting like this, to provide that opportunity for all involved.

People could take up collections at work or school. Someone in a warmer climate could have a tag sale to help the kids. Whatever............. Everyone who thinks up something to do means one less Lakota kid freezing their ass off or going to bed hungry.

CONFIDENTIALITY: A lot of you do not post pics of yourself or reveal your identity on your blogs and I can understand that-- especially with people in certain professions. If you buy from me on eBay or get involved with the Lakota projects on any level, I will NOT reveal your identity to ANYONE.

My ability to help my Lakota friends depends heavily on my ability to network and enlist the help of others. Betraying people's right to privacy would not only be wrong within itself but would certainly not help me in this work I am doing. Rest assured, I will not reveal any personal data about you unless you want me to share it and give permission.

I've written enough for today. This should have answered most of your questions about the crafts, but if you have other questions about the crafts or the families or my work with the Lakota, just email me. I'm on and off my computer all day creating eBay listings and whatnot and generally get back to people right away.

Hecel oyate kinipikte – So that the People May Live

Wakan Tanka Nici unweyepo - may the Creator walk with you

Here's a link to a You Tube video about people helping out on Pine Ridge:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Monthly Progress Report w/Photos


It's time for the monthly progress report with pics. I thought I would lose more from my neck as DH said my neck and chin looks different. But according to the tape measure, it stayed the same.

This month, I lost two inches from my chest, two and a half inches from my waist, one and a half inches from my hips, one half inch from my upper arms, one inch from each thigh, and one half inch from each calf. That's a total of ten inches lost this month! Woo hoo, yeah baby!

This brings total inches lost since mid-July to twenty-six. I wish that I could have taken my measurements from the very beginning back in March-- but even if I had been psychologically able to do it, the tape measure wouldn't have fit acound me.

Anyway, here are my monthly pics for August, September and October. I am not yet comfortable posting the side-view pics or the naked back shots. You have my promise that one day I will.

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

I lost more off my waist this month than I did previously. I attribute this to the careful attention to my diet, the increase in walking and the ab burner work out that I've been doing.

I've increased my personal best in several weight lifting exercises this month. I am now able to do cable flies with 50 pounds! I started at 10 pounds 3 months ago! I think that I am stronger now than I ever was before.

There is a lot more muscular development in my arms than what shows right now. I FEEL great and cannot wait until I start looking more fit!

Staying on target with my food has become a routine and MOST days it is not a struggle. When I have a case of the hungries, I'll have an egg white omlette, a bowl of oatmeal or something healthy like that.

Blogging and reading the blogs of others is a HUGE part of my success. I appreciate all of you putting yourselves out there and sharing what I know to be a difficult journey.

My BIGGEST problem is my impatience. They say that the older you get the harder it is to lose weight, and I am finding this is true. When I was younger I could easily drop 5-6 pounds a week if I was careful about what I ate and exercised faithfully.

I am NOT weighing myself right now but I know that I am not losing at that rate even though I am working HARDER than I ever have before. If you are still young, do yourself a favor and resolve the weight issue NOW.

I wanted to be at a certain weight range by the end of the year, by my Birthday in February, by next summer................ and I am seeing now that unless my body kicks into a higher gear all of a sudden, this is going to take longer than I thought and I will have to work harder than I ever have before to achieve what I want.

In the past, my disappointment and frustration over this might have caused me to give up. But ya know what, fuck it-- bring it on! I just have to keep doing the right things again and again and when I reach my goals, I reach my goals. I'll get there when I get there.

Anyway, that's my progress report for this month! I will work hard so that I have another good report next month. Be good to you today!

(Honestly, I am not homophobic or prejudiced. I simply like jokes that aren't politically correct. Somene emailed this to me and I thought I'd share. If you don't think it's funny, oh well.. I'll just have to try harder next time)

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Lakota Connection

I took my measurements yesterday and was all set to post my monthly progress report this morning -- except that DH was just too exhausted to do our monthly photo session. So I promise to post the update either this evening or tomorrow.

I've mentioned a connection to the Lakota people in South Dakota, and Patsy (& a few others) have asked me about that. So I am devoting today's post to something that really is my heart. To keep this from being the longest post ever written I will condense parts of the story leading up to the present.

My paternal grandma was Native American, yet because of my parent's divorce I did not grow up around that side of the family. When I got older I sought out native friends and mentors to better understand that part of myself. I ended up befriending a woman who married a Lakota man and when they needed to go out to the reservation to help with a sick relative, I went with them per their invitation.

What I saw and experienced there changed my life and continues to do so every day. I will start with the facts and finish with how I am involved and what I do to help.

The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux), is a land of contradictions, a place as poor in resources as it is rich in culture and history.

The terrain is stunning enough to bring tears to ones eyes. The sunlit prairies with their grasses and wildflowers, the mesas, the hills and cliffs, the picturesque valleys dotted with red cedar-- all of these take your breath away. Yet as one travels the Pine Ridge Reservation and meets with people there, a heart-piercing truth is revealed -- the scenic beauty of South Dakota is home to the poorest people in America.

Most of the land on Pine Ridge is rocky and the soil of poor quality. Most of the terrain is not conducive to farming, ranching or industry.

39 percent of Pine Ridge homes have no electricity. Most of the homes are of poor quality and many lack insulation, indoor plumbing, or central heat.

The average Lakota family has an annual income of under $4,000

If, like most Americans, you have been completely unaware of this, please read on and prepare for greater shocks:

Lakota people have the lowest life expectancy of any group in the Western hemisphere outside of Haiti

Lakota people have 8 times rate of diabetes (compared to the rest of the USA)

Lakota women have 5 times the rate of cervical cancer

Lakota people have twice the rate of heart disease and 8 times the rate of TB

The rate of suicide among adults is twice the national average, while their TEEN suicide rate is four times the national average

The infant mortality rate among Lakota Indians is 4 times the national average

The Pine Ridge Reservation is the size of the state of Connecticut, and yet the only Library is at Oglala College in Kyle. The reservation has no banks, no department stores, no movie theaters, etc.

You cannot take the bus and get a job at Walmart. There is no bus. There is no Walmart.

According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the Indian Health Service, Native Americans have the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in the world. Treating diabetes for only those Native Americans who are currently diagnosed with diabetes would amount to $1.46 billion per year, or 40% of the total budget for Native American health care.

Per capita funding for Native American healthcare is 60% less than all other Americans and 50% less than federal prisoners. In total, there is a $900 million backlog in unmet needs for American Indian health facilities.

It was shocking to find out that people in America live this way when each year, millions of dollars leave here to aid other countries.

In addition to being moved into action regarding how the elders and children live, I also fell in love with Lakota culture -- spirituality, art, music, ceremony and tradition. This is a much bigger part of my life than I can relate in this one post.

According to a report issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, one in five homes on reservations lack complete plumbing facilities and less than 50% are connected to the public sewer system. This has lead to the creation of numerous health and environmental hazards. Additionally, Over 30% of American Indian families live in overcrowded housing and 18 percent are severely overcrowded with 25-30 individuals sharing a single home. These rates are over six times the national average.

Approximately 40% of housing on reservations is inadequate according to the federal definition, compared to only 6% nationwide. American Indians have the highest rate of home loan denial of any race in the United States; nearly 25%.

Alcoholism and drug abuse are huge problems on the rez. We want to help but we don't want to enable self-destructive habits by throwing money around without understanding where it is going.

Also, charity relieves immediate suffering but it does not empower people and is not a long- term solution. In the short-term, the way that the children and elders suffer makes the charity necessary -- but along with that effort we have developed relationships with Lakota people who would seek a better way.

Imagine being a kid and every day when you come home from school, this is where you go.

This is the Evergreen Housing project in Porcupine.

Ok, so what am I doing to help?

First, I've spent years cultivating relationships with people on the rez who are clean and sober and who live a traditional lifestyle, as preserving the cultural and spiritual traditions is also important to me.

This is one such family and I go this visit them every summer and attend Sun Dance while I am out there. That's me in the back and this was taken this past July.

Next, I could not do this alone, so my Best Friend, Jeanne, has helped me on this path. She is not Lakota but is native and was raised in tradition. She is a light in my life, believe me-- but of course, that's yet another story.

Anyway, Jeanne is an artist and a teacher. We took her skills and resources and my long-term connections in the rez and started a program to help young people earn money through their arts and crafts.

Lakota schools are in the bottom percentile for government funding and school drop out rate is about 70%. In a nutshell, we provide kids with supplies and resources to create craft items, both traditional and not. Jeanne and I then sell these in an eBay store and also at local pow wows.

We like to say that our eBay gift store is the place where gifts give twice-- because when someone buys something, they are giving a Lakota youth the dignity of being self-supporting -- which is an incredible gift where they live; and then when you give the item as a gift, the recipient receives a one-of-a-kind item made with love and gratitude.

This is how we started, now we want to do other things as well. We like helping the babies and pregnant moms as the infant mortality rate is so high there and the needs endless. So we are in the process of forming a non-profit so that we can do more types of fund raising.

We need to have an attorney or an accountant look over our paperwork (which costs money) and get the $750 IRS filing fee together. In the meantime, we keep helping the kids with their crafts and remain in close contact with many families there. I spend a lot of time on the phone -- LOL.

I'm sure that some of my blogging friends may want to help out by doing some of their holiday shopping in our eBay store. This post is already so long that I am going to end it here for today.

Within a day or two, I'll post pics of the sorts of things that the kids make, along with a link to the eBay store and some other info about how people can help if they want to.

We do not make a personal profit off of this. The kids are required to "donate" 20% of their earnings to help others in their community. So if an elder is freezing or a baby is hungry, we try to address that, and the kid's money is part of what is helping. (Of course the kid's money is not enough but that is another story)

Not only do they help themselves, but they help others as well and relieve some of the suffering around them. This is empowering for the kids and I cannot describe how grateful I am to be a part of something like this.

An experience I had at the sun dance in July is part of why I have lost so much weight -- but again, that is a story for another day.

If you want to speak privately with me on any of this, you can email me at loriannlockeATyahooDOTcom

Thanks for reading! Be good to you today and let's all take a deep breath and be thankful for what we have!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Brothers and Uncles and Probate, oh my!

Yesterday was the probate hearing regarding my uncle and I am so glad it's over. I have been anxious for days over this!

DH took the day off from work to give me moral support, as with my family you never know what you might be walking into. In my family, I am the "black sheep" because I am not a drug addict or a criminal. I warned DH that if I felt outnumbered or attacked in any way that I would go outside and wait. My family is not able to push his buttons, so he agreed to remain inside and find out what's going on no matter what.

First of all, only my younger brother who is my uncle's guardian and the executor of my mom's estate was there. His wife, my older brother, and the rest of the bitches and lunatics were not there. Thank heavens!

Also, there was an attorney present who seemed to be representing my uncle's interests. This made baby bro have to act civilized as everything was taking place in front of this woman and it seemed he didn't want to act like an asshole in front of her-- so that saved the day from being as hideous as it could have been.

The story I got during the hearing is that a few months ago, my uncle fell and broke his hip. While he was in the hospital for that, they discovered that he needed a quintuple by-pass AND that he had an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm.

He had back-to-back surgeries, one for the quintuple by-pass and another to remove the aneurysm. Between the broken hip and the surgeries, he was bedridden for weeks and developed bed sores. To make a long story short, they now believe that one of the sores on his feet, which developed gangrene, will not heal and they may have to amputate the foot and maybe even part of the leg. This is the reason my brother wanted the probate to give permission to move my uncle to a nursing home, which the judge granted.

I actually got to see my uncle yesterday by visiting him in the nursing home where is is staying presently. Today he is going to the hospital to determine what will happen with the foot/leg. If he is in there too long, the nursing home won't hold his bed and he would end up someplace else once released from the hospital.

Although my brother was cordial in front of that attorney, if I call to find out where my uncle has been moved (should he actually be moved), I do not know if he would return my call to tell me, but that is not something I want to dwell on at this point.

I inquired after my older brother and you're not going to believe this one! He has had hepatitis C for decades and previously would not agree to treatment with interferon. This past year he developed liver cancer and was put on the list for a transplant. He has a rare blood type and no one held a lot of hope that he'd end up with a liver.

This is someone who has been a heavy smoker, active alcoholic and drug user since his teens. He had to agree to give everything up in order to be on the list for a liver. Within a month, they had a liver for him and he had transplant surgery.

According to my younger bro, the minute the older bro had the new liver he started smoking pot again. He claimed the anti-rejection drugs they gave him made him shaky and that the pot was the only thing that helped. Shortly after that, he resumed smoking cigarettes. He is not drinking again (yet) or doing any drugs again (yet) but I am betting that given time, he will.

This is a guy with an explosive temper and a lot of violent tendencies. In addition to the violence and addictions he is one of the most self-centered people I've ever seen. It's all about his own needs and his own convenience. He has harmed MANY people on many levels over the years-- and yet, he has always seemed immune to karma.

He should have served several prison sentences but always managed to get off with probation. Time and time again, he has done evil and yet everything always seemed to go his way. No matter what happens, he always seemed to land on his feet.

And here we go again. After a lifetime of self-abuse and excess, not to mention harming others, he needed a liver and got one right away, while decent people on the list won't get one and will die. Go figure!?

In any case, that's' the dysfunctional family news.

Here's my uncle-- I brought my camera with me yesterday in case I was able to see him. Here's a classic example that THIN doesn't mean healthy. He is 5'10" which for a man in our family is like being a dwarf. He never weighed more than 180-190 pounds and is obviously far less than that now. Because of the retardation, he never worked. He never got any exercise either. None. Nada. Zipadeedoodah!

But he covered everything he ate in bacon or sausage grease, ate tons of fat and sugar. Overall, his diet has always been terrible. He is thin-- but had quintuple by-pass created by his diet! Also, with the muscle atrophy from age, there's no strength in him, since he never used his body, there was no muscle to spare.

Being fat sucks, to be sure! But if it makes us aware of what we eat and how we care for ourselves it (ironically) could be what saves us in the end. I eat MUCH healthier than most of my thin friends. If I were naturally thin like my uncle, I would probably still be hosing a large pizza and a quart of beer for lunch every other day. I probably wouldn't exercise. It is the fat that started me on a healthier lifestyle and I doubt that I would have arrived here without that as a motivator.

Anyway, after probate court and visiting my uncle we came back home and decided to throw ourselves into some serious yard work. Something I'll post more about another time is the fact that we had read how lawns can be bad for the environment, so a few years ago we dug up our lawn and planted a 3-season, perennial wildlife garden. Since our house sits on a corner lot, this is some garden.

Where the side yard is I created a circular path. Perennial flowers, herbs, shrubs, and vegtables grow on either side of the path. Statues of angels, fairies, and other creatures peek out from among the plants. Tables, chairs and benches are tucked into the scene here and there.

I researched plants beloved by butterflies, bees, birds and hummingbirds and planted them in abundance. There is also a small pond and numerous bird feeders.

There's a stone retaining wall on that side of the property, so the plants on that side of the circle are the type to cascade over the wall. If I do say so myself, this creation of ours is spectacular. It is such a spectacle in the summer when everything is in bloom that people actually stop their cars to look and gawk.

Anyway, we went out there to bag up leaves and weeds, and we stayed out there until after dark! We worked for hours! I have climbing roses all over that needed to be trimmed, so I did that too. With both of us working like fiends we literally bagged up 30 of those large paper landscaping bags. Woooo-- I am sore! I will post pics of my garden one of these days.

We also dragged the Halloween decorations out of the attic and put them around the property with some pumpkins. This weekend, we hope to have time to make some ghouls to sit around on lawn furniture in front of the house. When we do this I will take pics and post them here.

Anyway, I have a busy day today and must get to it! Be good to you today!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hot 100 -- Second Update!

It's time for my Hot 100 update. Steve over at Log My Loss is helping us stay motivated and accountable with this great challenge.

Here's my Hot 100 goals and how I did since my last report:

Exercise a minimum of 5 hours per week - I actually got off to bad start on this earlier last week-- I was in a pissy mood because of some personal stuff--which I posted about. Yep, I was the queen of funk (and I'm not talkin' music here) for a few days, then I was able to pull myself out of it. I managed to exceed my exercise goals and do over 6 hours of exercise!

Eat foods rich in omega-3s at least 3 times a week - I nailed this one too. I'm starting to add 2-3 walnut halves to my Irish oatmeal as these are also rich in omega 3's.

Complete all three months of the ChaLEAN Extreme fitness program: Well, this will take another 8 weeks, but so far, so good. This program guides you in using heavier weights with proper form. I completed the first phase of the program last week and began the second phase this week. Each phase is 30 days. I am enjoying the program and I am glad I spent the money on it.

Consume at least 5 fruits and veggies per day - We went to the farmer's market on Saturday and got some yummy, locally grown organic stuff. A friend also gave us some apples that she picked at the orchard herself. So it was a great week for organics!

Eat fish a minimum of five times a week - Same as last week. Between the salmon and the tuna I've been having either fish or egg whites everyday. No, I'm not bored. Go figure?

Eat 5-6 small meals per day - Again - I didn't do real well on this challenge this week. When I first started this journey I was ALWAYS hungry, so gobbling down the meals and snacks was a breeze. Now I often do not want my snacks and skip them. Supposedly, eating more often will keep my metabolism more active, so I want to work on this.

Lately I've noticed that I am satisfied with a lot less food. Between meals, I don't think about food as much as I used to and I never binge. We are talking never ! Some people allow themselves a "cheat day" and in the beginning, I thought I might allow myself one every other week or so -- but I don't feel the need and never do it.

It is weird, like some invisible switch somewhere has been flipped or some faulty wiring pulled out. Let me admit right here and now that I used to have Chinese food or pizza delivered for lunch 2 or 3 days a week and I would eat a considerable amount. I haven't consumed either in months and months. I never think about it. I never feel deprived.

I am not complaining. I just don't understand this. I always loved food and ate a lot. When I wasn't eating, I was thinking about eating. In the past, when I lost weight, I recall a sense of "suffering" a lot more than I am now. I would be keenly aware of all the foods that I could not eat and felt resentful that I could not eat them.

Food obsession might be replaced by scale obsession for as long as I remained on my "diet" but the point is, the obsessive thoughts and compulsive urges were still there --- and it was a daily battle to beat them into submission. The whole thing was always so exhausting-- no wonder I always failed and would go running back to my take-out menus.

But now.......... things are quieter inside, and I do not know any other way to describe it. I wish I could understand how I arrived here so that I could draw a map for others. It is something I have been thinking about a lot lately.

I am positive that one thing that has helped is a simple, clean and wholesome diet. I honestly believe that part (certainly not all, but part) of the reason really overweight people keep eating is because their bodies are starved for proper nutrition. We aren't meant to live on pizza and brownies. We need good protein and fats, carbs that are unprocessed, etc.

I believe that some of our hunger is our body saying "Yo asshole, ever hear of a leafy green?" Buy a fucking clue and give me some real food that I can make strong healthy new cells with." Our bodies create thousands of new cells every day. What are we going to give our bodies today to fuel this process? If we feed it shit, we will feel like shit.

Anyway, I think part of the state of grace that I am in right now has to do with the accumulated effect of eating right and eating often for months and months, coupled with the fresh air, exercise and pure water. It's like the body finally got what it needed and this takes the edge off of the compulsive behavior.

Am I cured? (don't know any other way to put it) Hell no. I will never have the luxury of being mindless about what I eat and drink. I can't be on auto-pilot with the food and fitness.

I could wake up tomorrow and find myself at the mercy of some overwhelming urge to eat cake. That is my fear -- that I could wake up one day and not be in charge anymore --that old fatheaded me would be back allowing every urge and whim to dictate the actions. What a fucking nightmare.

A Lakota elder once told me that fear and anxiety are an absence of faith. Whether it is faith in ourselves or in a higher power, or both. His words helped me through some dark times. I am passing them on to you in hopes that it may help somehow

Anyway, time to get on with my day. Yeah, we overweight people can be pretty crazy, but just remember --- It's the cracked ones who let the light into the world!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

Sunday was a gorgeous Autumn day! We went to the gym and I took a walk in the morning, but in the afternoon we still had spare energy and decided to take our hounds to one of their favorite places. This public space is just blocks from our house! It is beautiful but not the sort of place a human goes to crank out exercise as the terrain is too rocky and in a lot of areas there aren't even paths. It's more for wanting to enjoy nature and savor a beautiful day. We rarely encounter anyone here except for wild turkeys and ground hogs. Sadly, very few people hike through here, but that works out for our dogs, Beau and Zeke, as we let them run off-leash here.

The ground is carpeted with beautiful leaves this time of year. Today was perfect -- as if mother nature knew we were coming and decorated everything just for us. I also love the smells of autumn-- there is nothing like a New England forest in October -- the colors, the smells, the crunch of leaves and acorns under your feet.

Don't know what sort of nest this is -- wasp? hornet? But it was HUGE! I actually took this from a distance and used my zoom lens-- just in case there was anyone home. LOL

So many kinds of pine trees-- OMG, the smell! I love it!

Beau and Zeke blend in with the scenery. They are both rescues and Beau is quite elderly. He has cushings disease and must be on medication that costs us a fortune. They are the best dogs though. I swear they are grateful for having a home. There's a GREAT story about the day I met Zeke and brought him home-- there's a spiritual element to the story and I will tell it here sometime soon.

Ooooo, pretty!

This Pine tree went down in a recent storm

Poor old Beau tries to keep up with Zeke -- who zooms around at the speed of light!

Creeping Hemlock is all over and makes interesting patterns that I love to photograph!

I love the colors! Doesn't this sort of thing make you so thankful to have eyes?

I don't know what this is called but I love it.

The "mountain" is Connecticut Blue Stone. This indigenous rock is actually a beautiful pale blue. Photos don't capture its beauty! We fashioned a stone retaining wall out of it on our property and it looks spectacular.

These red berries are so pretty.

I haven't a clue what this is but it sure is pretty.

A survivor. It found a little space and thrived. If it can do it, so can we!

I had a great day on Sunday! DH wanted to go to the gym early so I had him drop me off about 2 miles away so I could get a walk in. Once I arrived at the gym I hammered my upper body with heavier weights than what I usually use. I worked my chest, back and arms to failure and was drenched in sweat by the time I finished.

Once we got back home, I made us a delicious brunch of scrambled egg whites and tofu with onions, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, mushrooms and spinach. It was awesome! I sauteed the veggies first to soften them-- except for the spinach- which I add at the end so it is just wilted.

This was so satisfying that I wasn't really hungry for lunch, so I just waited until mid-afternoon had a protein shake and a handful of grapes to hold me over until dinner. My 6 meals a day eating schedule got messed up but I was never hungry so I guess that's ok.

Our housemate, Nina, went with her church group on a trip to a local apple orchard/produce farm where they let you pick your own stuff. She brought us back a number of apples that are simply delicious. I ate one with breakfast and it is so awesome to be eating something that was still on the tree just yesterday! MMmmmmm, YUMMY!

This is the week to post my progress pics and inches lost for the month so look for that towards the end of the week. I have pretty much been on target with everything so I expect to have a loss of at least a few more inches overall.

Yesterday I put on a pair of fleece pants that I bought in the spring and because of the amount of weight that I've lost, I can now pull them all the way up so that the waist band is under my boobs. Also, they were tight in the thighs and now are mega inches too big in the thighs. DH was laughing and said I look like an extra from the cast of REVENGE OF THE NERDS. All I need is a plastic pocket protector and some goofy glasses, as I already have the pants hiked up to the chest. LOL

That's it for today kids. I have a busy day with work. By the way, I think what I do for work may interest some of you so I will post about that this week too.

Be good to you today and get your week off to a strong start! I'll be making the rounds and reading all of your blogs! You guys rock!