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Dates that live in memory

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fourteen years ago today, my mother died. She had been suffering for quite some time, but in her chosen way of life, she did not disclose this. Some people were very shocked when she passed. She was only 66, pretty young these days.

I had about three weeks notice. Dad had been dropping hints about Mom "slowing down", of course. But I lived half a continent away. I planned a trip to visit them, had the tickets booked, and then a week before that scheduled trip, we had a death on my husband's side of the family. My brother in law, only 54, had a heart attack, mowing the lawn. That's a cliche, but cliches are such for a reason.

When I called my dad from my mother in law's home, I told him I didn't know what would happen with the trip. My dad, the most positive person in the world, said to me, "Well, I wouldn't put it off too long." Then I knew. She was dying. And she knew it and he knew it, but their faith would not allow them to say it.

So, I buried my brother in law on Thursday, and got on a plane on Friday to spend the last weekend I would with my mother. It was a good weekend. Her mind was sharp to the end. We played brain teasers, we read the Bible, we talked philosophy. I had finally reached the point in my own maturity where I could accept my mother as human and that it was OK for her to be so. And she was not afraid of dying.

Two weeks after that, she was gone, and I was on a plane again, this time for her funeral. She would have loved her memorial service! It truly was a celebration of who she was and what she believed. Even more than that, Mom would have loved what happened a year and a day later: my youngest niece was born. The final sibling, the last holdout in the bunch of five children produced a grandchild mom would never meet! But a year and a day? What great timing!

Here's to mom... I'm remembering your enthusiasm for life... and your courage when you had to leave us behind. Love you!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    I miss my mom too. My "day" is in January. She died from a brain tumor at the age of 67.

I'm glad you were able to enjoy those precious last moments with your mom!

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SHAWWB 7/8/2010 3:10PM

    What a great blog. My father passed away when I was 3 and my mother when I was 17. I'm so glad you got that last weekend together and had a chance to say goodbye. Their memories live in us forever, it's been 43 years since my father and 29 year since my mother passed and I still think of them almost daily. Be sure to tell your niece all about the grandmother she never met. We do that with my nephews all the time.

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THIAGRAM 7/8/2010 10:16AM

  What a wonderful thing to remember your mom! Bless you!

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BUGGYS 7/8/2010 9:48AM

    Thank you for a touching tribute to your mom! Both of my parents dies within months of eachother about 10 years ago and I think of them everyday and am grateful that I was able to spend quality time with them. Their passing was very difficult for me but the memories live on and make me feel whole. emoticon

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KALIGIRL 7/8/2010 8:47AM

    What great memories.
So glad you could have her for a weekend. I spent a week with my mom before she died. Some sad memories (she wasn't in pain, but didn't want to be alive, so was angry when I talked her out of taking the meds) and some happy memories (she beat me 148 to 10 rounds of cards). I was also able to take her to the Med Center where the nurses convinced my dad it was time for Hospice. Mom left the Catholic church after my oldest brother died, but my sis arranged last rites and I had the honor of giving her eulogy.
emoticon to you and your memories.

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SUNNY332 7/8/2010 7:14AM

    What a beautiful tribute to your Mom. Sounds like she was a wonderful mother. I miss my Mom too.

Hugs, Sunny

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KASEYCOFF 7/8/2010 2:57AM

    Thanx for posting this, Barb.

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WALKINGANNIE 7/8/2010 2:33AM

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, memories and feelings in today's blog.

I guess that this is another connection between us. Today would have been my mother's birthday. She died, after a long battle with cancer, when I was still in my teens. And yes, after almost 40 years the gap in my life is still there.

With loving memories of our mothers on these special dates.

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DEBRITA01 7/7/2010 11:18PM

    emoticonIt was a blessing you could spend some precious time with your mom before she passed. We never really know how much time we have with our loved ones.

I'm sure you miss her terribly but, she is smiling down on you from heaven and I'm sure she's so proud...

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ANDI571 7/7/2010 11:00PM

    What a touching story. It's so good, that even though they are gone, we can still have those memories for them to live on. emoticon

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CONCHA77 7/7/2010 10:28PM

    Great Blog, Barb-Sounds like you had a wonderful upbringing. I miss my mom too.

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 7/7/2010 10:20PM

    What a beautiful blog. You are a lovely person. Helping my mom with her recent mishap and rehab has allowed me to get a teeny bit closer to her. She still has walls and so do I. But I hope we can "get there" before it's too late. I'm going to bed now with a smile in my heart because of your awesome blog. Take care and God bless!

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PEGGYJEAN13 7/7/2010 9:35PM

    You brought back fond memories of my own mother. It is wonderful to remember Mom and wonder what she would think if she was still here today. Thank you for the rememberance.

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NELLIEC 7/7/2010 9:07PM

    It is good to remember your mom! And it is wonderful that she was full of faith!

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Things I don't get...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

One thing I don't seem to get is all the people who say "I have so much more energy" when they have lost weight. This does not appear to be true for me. Yesterday I was completely wiped out. I did next to nothing: my laundry. Oh, yeah, and messed around on the computer. I didn't even get my 10,000 steps in, topping out under 8,000.

I spent a few brain cells pondering why this was so. Was it just because I messed with my sleep cycle? Was it "over-peopling" as I had social things on both Saturday and Sunday? Was it the family walk/jog Sunday evening that was a little more intense for having tried to match strides with my nephew for a while?

So, I made it a rest day, went to bed promptly last night, and this morning... probably OK. But I'm still pondering: is fatigue becoming a problem? I will monitor for a while, and I'm going to have to make that appointment for my annual physical... if the monitoring shows fatigue to be more than just a "this weekend wiped me out" kind of thing, it's worth mentioning. After all, with weight loss, regular medications might need adjusting.

I'm still figuring out "what's normal?"

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHAPNUP 7/15/2010 7:52AM

    Normal is definitely relative. I find I do have more energy, but I think for me it's because I've let go of a lot of sugar and am trying to eat more protein. That, along with exercising, a regular sleep pattern, and STAYING OFF THE SODA seems to work for me. Not only that, I can maintain my energy up until by body starts shutting down for sleep, about 45 minutes before bedtime. I'm not physically active, but I'm awake and alert. I like that. No sugar coma!

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PATRISNA 7/8/2010 10:51AM


I think you are right to get a check up and see about having your meds adjusted. My husband's doctors all agreed that his weight loss of 50 pounds contributed to him being over medicated. After they ran tests they dopped some, lowered doses of some and added a couple of others.

It really amazed both of us what a difference it made in how he much better feels.

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RORYLYONS 7/6/2010 9:58PM

    There are those days when we have more on our plate than we can handle. With the holiday over.. I bet you get right back in the groove of things & feel peppier than ever.... emoticon

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THIAGRAM 7/6/2010 9:40PM

  I would love to be able to top out at 8000 steps a day! So I think you are doing great! Everybody has those times when we feel a bit tired especially after a big weekend! Good stress is still stress and stress makes a body tired! Tomorrow is a new day!

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WALKINGANNIE 7/6/2010 3:15PM

    You're right to check your meds Barb. I went through a phase of being exhasuted that I thought was linked with my illness and pace of recovery. In fact, I was overmedicated since I'd lost weight. The doc cut various meds and I felt much better.

Hope you find an answer.

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KASEYCOFF 7/6/2010 2:53PM

    Good point, Barb: we were having a discussion in one of the threads the other day about how weightloss can 'sneak up' on you in terms of the medications you take. Without being aware of it, you can cross a line where your bodyweight is now too low for the amount of medicine you've been prescribed. It does bear watching. Sometimes I wonder if age is catching up with me - at what point do we cross a line where we just naturally want to slow down? Tho I guess if genes are any indication, I've got another forty years to go. My grandmother was nearly 100 before SHE slowed down, lol...

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KALIGIRL 7/6/2010 1:51PM

    When you figure out what's 'normal', let me know. I think we just have ebb and flow days and open ourselves to disappointment when we try to control what we accomplish and when. (I know - easier said than done, but all in all, each day is part of the bigger journey.)

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BUGGYS 7/6/2010 11:59AM

    I have always been a high energy person so after being on SP fro a while, I didn't experience more energy but I did feel a whole lot better...healthier...if you continue to have low energy, there may be some underlying cause and you may mention it to your doc at your annual exam!

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ANDI571 7/6/2010 10:11AM

    I am the same way. When we were walking the other day, I told my husband I don't get how people say they get all of this energy. When I lost my 60 pounds years ago, I never did get the energy surge.

I am still trying to get rested up from our quick weekend away. It is 10:00 and I just got up if that tells you anything. I noticed last night how sunk in my eyes were.

Last week I hit over 10,000 steps all but 2 days. Sunday I had 3816, had yesterday 6902.

If there is a secret to getting energy, I wish I knew it.

I also told DH, that people with energy, doesn't understand us who doesn't have it. My daughter is only 28, and she is the same way. Growing up she could never keep up with late nights and things like other kids her age.

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PEGGYJEAN13 7/6/2010 9:09AM

    Stress, change of routine, and missed sleep could all be problems. Combine the 3 and you have a triple whammy! I bet a few normal days and nights will straighten you out but a checkup is never a bad idea.

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    There's no such thing as normal! You just have to find what works for you. I'm with you though - I don't have more energy. I have excess energy some days and other days I severely lack it - but that's no different from what it's been all along. I think people mistake "energy" with "endurance" -- I may not have anymore energy, but if I really want to I can go for longer.

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SUNNY332 7/6/2010 8:48AM

    Some days, I can say this but most days, I can't. I was wiped out yesterday too after having 30+ people here on Sunday for a reunion. Today, it is back to business.

Take care and have a GREAT day.


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CONCHA77 7/6/2010 8:34AM

    I think your busy holiday weekend might have affected your energy. I know after my grandkids are here for more than a day or 2 I am wiped out! It kicks my butt! Hey, were getting older and we do need to "slow down" once in a while. I just wish I could keep up with you and your running, You're doing great. I do think that having a yearly physical is a great idea, in fact I am heading out this morning for a Dr appt.

Have a great day, Connie

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Holidays can be healthy!

Monday, July 05, 2010

I could blog for a week about all the layers of actions and reactions and emotions that show up at family gatherings. Because when you only get together for holidays, it all gets compressed: relationships, identity, re-discovering who each other are, and determining whether you're all OK with how each of you has changed in the interim. I suppose July 4th (US Independence Day) is one of the gentler holidays in this regard: it's so close to Memorial Day (where you already did this assessment, so there won't be dramatic changes), and it usually has an outdoors element which gives you a chance to have some physical space if you need it!

As I prepared for the family gather yesterday, I pondered over how these gatherings have changed since our childhood. I'm number two of a sibling group of five. Both of our parents have passed away. Our lone brother is halfway across the continent, but the four sisters all live in the same town. We each have independent lives, for the most part, but the family gathers at holidays are tradition, as they are for so many.

Now, in our fifties (and forties for the younger two of the group)... we are the top layer. We are the example that the kids see. And some things have definitely changed: we talk openly about health issues and behavior that supports health! As kids this would NEVER have been so! We talked about motivation for healthy habits, as well as our individual mechanics... we were spreading the spark to one another, even though I'm the only one who hangs out at this site.

Even what we serve at dinner... here's what I brought:
A "Greek" salad, a recipe I got from a fellow traveler in weight loss circles about a decade ago. The family always wants me to bring it! What a difference from high-fat, high-salt things that could be the basis of so many holidays.

The protein was less than the healthiest choice (KFC), but several of us removed the skin and breading before eating it. Nobody is critical of anyone making a choice, healthy or otherwise. The really amusing piece to me was that at the close of the meal, when only the glasses remained as we were talking... were we chowing down on cakes, cookies, brownies, ice cream? No... look at this "treat":
Red-skinned carrots purchased at a local farmer's market that morning!

After the meal, as we were gathering in the driveway to watch the kids set off the daylight fireworks, I glanced at my pedometer and saw I needed another 3,000 steps to get in my 10,000 minimum for the day, so I examined everyone's shoes to see who was up for a walk... and no less than six of us (three sisters and the three adolescents) went off on a half-hour jaunt through the neighborhood.

One of the joys of that walk/jog (I did intervals, my nephew horsed around and smoked us all)... was getting to know these almost-adults a little bit better. As my nephew kept pace with me, we talked about sprinting versus distance training and what some of HIS goals for fitness might be. Granted he's an adolescent male, naturally thin by virtue of biology and lifestyle... he walks home from summer school these days, a five mile hike five days a week. But he's thinking about it... and that makes me happy and hopeful for his future!

What do you want for the young people in your life? An active, able life, right? So, what are we, as the "top" generation doing about it? Modeling healthy behavior on holidays is a great start!

The photo now on my main page are the gathered adults (including my niece, who's on her first "real job" in her chosen field)... the nephew in question is behind the camera.

Hope your holiday was a good one, and if you're not a US denizen that you had a great weekend. Onward to a new week... being our sparked selves!

Edited to add link to Greek Salad recipe:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Congratulations! What a way to take care of yourself. I enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to reading more of them.

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REJ7777 7/5/2010 6:55PM

    Thank you so much for posting the recipe! I will be making it with delicious fresh summer cucumbers. Do you put any dressing on it at all? emoticon

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WALKINGANNIE 7/5/2010 2:55PM

    Congratulations on a healthy 4th July and for making it a positive experience for yourself and others, including the younger generation.

I love the photos - and you look like a happy, healthy, slim sister!


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CONCHA77 7/5/2010 2:33PM

    Sounds like a wonderful day! Family really can be fun to be around. LOL. Thanks for sharing your salad recipe. Sounds delicious!

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PEGGYJEAN13 7/5/2010 1:54PM

    You are so right about everyone evaluating each other when you get together. I had one neice ask about my weight loss while everyone else ignored the subject. We always have so much food that there is never a problem choosing healthy and ignoring the calorie laden. I'm glad you enjoyed your day. Good idea about the walk.

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REJ7777 7/5/2010 1:16PM

    Congratulations on modeling healthy choices for your extended family, both with eating AND physical activity. emoticon

Would you mind posting the recipe for that Cucumber salad?

You look absolutely awesome in that new photo! emoticon

Comment edited on: 7/5/2010 1:22:29 PM

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PATRISNA 7/5/2010 11:12AM

    Your salad looks wonderful. I am glad you had a good day with the family. We also had a family gathering. Our food wasn't as low cal as your salad or your desert.

I love the photos. I looked at the main page. Everyone looks great.


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THIAGRAM 7/5/2010 11:00AM

  Wow! You are right Holidays can be healthy! Your salad looks very yummy! What are the white things? My guess is apples? or maybe chicken? or maybe Tofu? You are a great example! Thanks for sharing!

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KASEYCOFF 7/5/2010 10:57AM

    Good one, Barb, really good - it's as if we got to spend a little time with you and yours. :-)

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ANDI571 7/5/2010 10:36AM

    What a great visit with your family. Healthy choices and exercise. But especially getting to know each other again. That's what it is all about.

Since our parents have passed away, my husbands, or my family just doesn't get together like we used to and I miss that. The sad thing is, we all live fairly close.

Your salad looked wonderful.

Comment edited on: 7/5/2010 10:36:32 AM

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Raining 4th of July

Sunday, July 04, 2010

So far, blogging every day has been a good thing for me: got me back tracking, too, not just blogging. As I think about what to post here, there are the mundane details of what happens in life: great dinner last night, by the way, we had Greek Salad (a healthy recipe I make), and then my daughter in law made tilapia in a bag... a recipe she worked out to be similar to something Red Lobster used to have on their menu.

Doesn't it look delicious? Tasted wonderful... that's fresh thyme and lemon on the top layer! A whole lot healthier than what my sister plans on doing tonight.

Link to the recipe:

I got the tour of their little place... a washer/dryer and a bedroom suite have been acquired, used... and she's made it a cozy little nest.

Came home while it was still light (it doesn't get dark around here 'til 9:30 or 10 pm this time of year) and was able to see some of the neighborhood fireworks as it got later.

Tonight... the sisters!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PEGGYJEAN13 7/5/2010 1:56PM

    I love hearing about your daily doings! It sounds like you lots of relatives working on being healthy, which helps everyone.

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KASEYCOFF 7/4/2010 3:04PM

    If she wouldn't mind, do you think your dil would be willing to share her tilapia recipe? Well, vicariously, anyhow, if you'd be willing to post it? :-)

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THIAGRAM 7/4/2010 2:06PM

  Beautiful food! I enjoy your everyday blogs! Enjoy tonight with the sisters!

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Comment edited on: 7/5/2010 11:06:57 AM

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WALKINGANNIE 7/4/2010 12:40PM

    Glad that the blogging is helping you - and thank you again as your blogs have helped me too.

The fish looks delicious.

Hope you have a good evening.


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LOVE_2_LAUGH 7/4/2010 11:21AM

    All in all, a very nice day, huh? I'm not much of a fish eater (unless it's breaded and deep fried), but have to admit it looks awfully tasty. Hope you enjoyed the time with your sisters as well!

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PATRISNA 7/4/2010 9:22AM

    Yum! The fish looks wonderful. Glad you had a good dinner together.


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Body image continued

Saturday, July 03, 2010

For those of you who have "always thought of myself as thin"... you can probably skip this blog. You're "going home" when you lose weight. You are immune to the "change back" messages that come disguised as "compliments".

But for those of us who have always considered ourselves, "the fat sister", "the chubby friend", etc., it becomes a particular challenge as we get close to or achieve our weight loss goals. Even more so around holidays and family gatherings, when we are faced with the comments of well-meaning or envious people.

One that was particularly devastating to me one year was my "skinny sister" lamenting over the fact that I (two inches shorter than she) was weighing in at less than she was. Huge "change back" message. The joking "you're going to blow away", or even "hello skinny" can be a "change back" message to someone (like me) who thinks of herself as substantial.

One recent comment that got me thinking was from a gal who has always kept herself in good shape. It was simply, "You aren't still losing, are you?" I sloughed it off with "no, I'm maintaining, but just starting to wear clothes that fit." But it bothered me.

Body image issue number two: do I feel comfortable in clothes that fit? I'm trying to learn to be. But the clothes that fit bring on those kinds of comments, and those kind of compliments have to be dealt with, or I end up eating over them.

One day at a time: breathe, get my activity in, and remember that outside the skin (other people's words) is not something I can control. Arm myself with the knowledge that this weekend has a high potential to generate comments from people I might have boundary issues with.

I am me. A real live individual. Not an extension of someone else or an assigned identity within a sibling group. If I can just remember that, I should get through not just dinner with daughter in law tonight, but bring a dish with the sisters and families tomorrow.

Who'd have thunk it? Over 50, you can still have identity issues!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUST_TRI_IT 7/4/2010 6:55PM

    Oh... can I related... because no matter what my age, "identity" seems to be a constant. Here I am at 51 just finally settling in on being satisfied more with who I am.

This is such an honest and insightful blog. What we say to each other, with good or bad intentions, has the potential to help or harm. And, I don't know that we are ever really sure of the source or the end result.

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LINDAJOYWK 7/3/2010 4:15PM

    I just want to tell you-you are an inspiration!

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PEGGYJEAN13 7/3/2010 2:27PM

    I think everyone has identity issues. Hey, I'm still the little sister and I'm 56 and get the feeling that my opinion does not count with my 5 sisters and 2 brothers! Anyway, we have to be happy with ourselves and learn to shrug it off and go on because there are always those who like to rain on other's parade. In other words, they like to make others feel inferior, and I REFUSE to play the game.

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 7/3/2010 1:34PM

    Great insight. And I think a lot of us have the same or similar issues. As long as you're happy with what you're doing and how you feel/look -- that's really all that matters, right? But somehow we seem to put much more weight (no pun intended) to what others may say. And if you're anything like me, in my mind I'm able to turn a well-meaning compliment into some sort of evil scheme. Have fun with family and know that at this point in time, you're the best you can be. And tomorrow is another day to become even better. Have a great holiday weekend!

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REJ7777 7/3/2010 1:22PM

    How we react to a comment is such a personal issue. Someone might be extremely pleased to hear "Hello Skinny", while someone else might be offended. It's probably meant as a compliment when said to someone who has intentionally lost a lot of weight.

A university professor I know comes from an African nation. He's black and has the most delightful accent! He's been living in Quebec for about 20 years, and when people meet him, they always ask him where he's from. I think they're trying to "connect" with him. But he says he's so tired of always being asked where he comes from. I guess it makes him feel "different", even after all these years.

Maybe comments about our weight (positive or negative) remind us of our weight issues. We'd like that to be in the past, and not be identified with our weight anymore. Sometimes people with the best intentions can say the wrong thing. And if they're intentionally being unkind, that's *their* problem! Just enjoy your newfound health and slim body! People are bound to notice. A pleasant "thank you" seems like an appropriate response. emoticon

Comment edited on: 7/5/2010 1:25:37 PM

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LJCANNON 7/3/2010 12:53PM

    We really are all "Just Human" and it will probably take the rest of our lives~for some of us~to learn NOT to take things 'Personally' especially when comments come from Family members.
I am trying to learn to CHOOSE how I respond to comments from my Sister just like I choose my meals. If I can CHOOSE to feel that her comments are meant to be encouraging or from being proud of me it doesn't really matter what her motivation was.

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WALKINGANNIE 7/3/2010 12:39PM

    On the nail again Barb.

I have really struggled with identity issues over the last year. Since I was ill and then found SP I've had the repeated experience of people, including quite close friends and extended family, simply not recognising me. It's been very disconcerting - but if you want to commit a major crime and get away with it I can recommend losing 46lb and having a haircut!

You are definitely you! You're great just the way you are. Now. You worked hard to get here. Other people might just take time to adjust to the Slim-Barb because they don't see you in the mirror every day. The changes for us seem gradual, but for those who don't see us every day, the difference can be as profound as comparing our 'before' and 'after' photos or stages on the way.

Thanks for helping me to see that for myself. You helped me again by sharing your thoughts.

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MONARCHCT 7/3/2010 10:48AM

    Very astute. Comments from others are often made without much thought, but I tend to take everything to heart. Although not terribly overweight, I have lost 40 pounds. I get very self-conscious when people mention or compliment me about it. "How much have you lost?" "What do you weigh?" "You've really lost alot of weight" "You look great". Although these are meant to make me feel good, they also make me think I must have looked really bad before and it is embarrassing. I am trying to accept these well-meaning phrases as compliments and not read more into them than is there,...but it is hard.

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KASEYCOFF 7/3/2010 9:47AM

    Identity issues - you made me smle, kiddo... You know, those 'You aren't still losing, are you?' questions and 'You're going to blow away' comments are kind of strange, no matter what their origin. Would people go up to someone and say 'You aren't still gaining, are you?' or 'You'd make good ballast on a ship' or something? So why do they somehow feel it's all right to comment on someone's size because they're losing weight? I mean, regardless of someone's size, isn't it more a case of 'Your haircut looks great!' or 'That color really suits you' rather than 'You are--' too thin, too big, too tall. Isn't anyone just right? Personal remarks. Maybe I'm in danger of becoming over-sensitive. Or just a tetchy ol' lady. emoticon

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THIAGRAM 7/3/2010 9:41AM

  I appreciate your insights and straightforwardness of your feelings. I have not ever been "fat", but I have always been around "fat" family and friends. I hope I haven't ever made others uncomfortable with my comments, meaning well, but not really understanding these feelings. Oh how we avoid saying the "f" (fat) word. And I think for good reason. We simply don't want to offend or make others feel bad or uncomfortable. So even things like "Hello, Skinny" can make others feel uncomfortable. I mean you don't go up to someone who has always been skinny and say "Hello, Skinny". Why are we so human? Why can't we always just say all the right things? Why can't we all just be perfect? I guess that's because we're all so very human! Thanks for sharing your feelings!

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PATRISNA 7/3/2010 8:47AM

    I agree with Tornado40 the siblings comments are "all about them." Sibling rivalry goes way back in our lives. I know you can be strong and not let the sisters undermine you. Don't acknowledge to the subliminal change back impulses their comments generate.

Sometimes the people we think and hope would be our biggest supporters are the ones who undermine us. Remember to breathe deeply. Keep repeating silently to yourself "I'm not listening, I'm not listening..."


Comment edited on: 7/3/2010 8:48:40 AM

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TORNADO40 7/3/2010 8:18AM

    People don't handle change very well and they can be very jealous that you have figured out the "secret" and they have not. Also when they see that you have lost weight it makes them look at themselves and sometimes they don't like what they see. Plus overweight, unhealthy people want others to be in the same boat so they don't feel so bad about themselves. At any rate it is all about them and nothing to do with you. Just keep up the good work and take care of you.
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