Hangin’ Out At…a Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine

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Have you had an opportunity to try a Coke Freestyle Drink Machine? I’d seen one last year at Universal, but it was guarded closely by employees, so I didn’t get a good look at it. When a rep asked if I wanted to investigate one up-close, I was excited to oblige. [I was compensated for this visit, but as always, I didn't grant the rep editorial approval. You can read my full disclaimer here.]

I decided to visit the Millenia location of Moe’s, which is one of the first places (as far as I know) to receive a Freestyle. They were clearly excited about their new toy, with everything to window clings to counter mats to wall hangings extolling its virtues.

They’re pretty easy to operate. The opening screen lists the available brands.

Say you wanted to check out the Coke varieties. Click the Coke icon and you’re brought to the wonder that is flavored Cokes. Old faithfuls like Cherry and even Cherry Vanilla, but also new and exciting like Raspberry, Lime and Orange.

I was intrigued by the Orange Coke and decided to give it a try. It was surprisingly tasty, reminding me of the unique flavors offered at Epcot’s Club Cool.

Some brands offer a lot of flavor variety.

Others not as much, I imagine because Raspberry or Lime Dr. Pepper doesn’t entice anyone.

Next time I think I’ll make a foray into the wonderful world of Sprite. I just didn’t have the room this time around.

The takeaway: Freestyle Machines give you the power to choose whatever flavor you want, not limited by only the 6 or 7 that the traditional fountain machines provide. If you’re adventurous, you’ll love it. If you’re not, you’ll still get a kick out of watching other people try out the machine. A Moe’s employee I spoke to said people really seem to enjoy it, and a fellow customer said if she could have one in her house, she’d be the hit of the neighborhood!

  • Location: They’re starting to pop up all over Orlando. You can use the locator on the official website or Facebook page, or just pop into Burger King, Five Guys, or new Moe’s.
  • Freestyle Etiquette: 1) Only one person can be served at a time. To be courteous to others, keep this in mind and don’t dawdle over your choices if there are people behind you. 2)  With hundreds of flavor options, you may run across one you don’t particularly enjoy. It would be a shame to discover this after you’ve already poured yourself a full cup, so I’d encourage you to try a sip of a new flavor before indulging in a larger volume, to cut down on waste.
  • Tip: Make sure you press the screen hard enough that your flavor is indicated by a thick ring, as indicated below, or you’ll end up pouring yourself something unintended (and in my case, initially thinking Orange Coke was a scam, because it tasted exactly like regular Coke, the default flavor of that screen).
  • Bonus: Like anything else, there’s an app for this.

Have you tried out a Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine? What’s your favorite flavor?

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Love M&Ms? Love Hangers? It’s a win/win!

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This little beauty (courtesy of reader KE; thanks, KE!) is from the M&M store in Las Vegas. I wonder if our local Florida Mall has them too…?

In case you’re wondering Amazon (unaffiliated link) sells a set of 3 for $8.99 plus shipping. Little rich for my blood, but to each his own. I bet kids would love these things, and it may even encourage them to hang up their clothes…ok, probably not, but it’s worth a shot, right?

Remember, if you’re out and about and spot a random hanger, send it in!

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Allow Me to Introduce You To…United Arts

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As I’ve mentioned before, one of the reasons I started RH was in direct defiance of those who moan and groan about living in Orlando: ”there’s nothing to here”…”we don’t have any culture to speak of”…”the only fun activities  are at the theme parks and/or too expensive.” To prove them wrong, the categories Hangin’ Around (things to do) and Frugal Fun were born.

You know who else is helping in the “Central Florida is culturally relevant” crusade? United Arts. Since 1989, they’ve awarded grants of over $121 million to the City Beautiful’s arts programs, to help keep doors open and, especially important to frugal folks like myself, tickets prices reasonable (sources here and here).

Who’s benefitted?

And those are just the place I’ve written about. I’ve also had the pleasure of volunteering at the Florida Film Festival, watching The Importance of Being Earnest at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, and listening to an Orlando Gay Chorus performance.

And those are just the places I’ve been to. A complete list is here.

What’s in it for me?

Do you get the Red Chair Rewards weekly e-newsletter yet? Not only is it packed with upcoming events, but every issue boasts at least one Buy One, Get One Free offer, with several other discounts as well. What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

What do you want me to do?

  • Start exploring your city. Tell me about the cool stuff you’ve found, and I’ll try it out too. If you haven’t already bought tickets (only $22/person), the Red Chair Affair this Saturday, 8/25 is a great way to preview the upcoming arts season (for a video synopsis, click here). I went a few years ago and was tickled by the Shakespeare Theatre scene from Earnest, which is how I was inspired to go for the first time.
  • Donate to this great cause. You can give money directly (if your gift is over $100, they’ll send you a discount card with lots of BOGO goodies), find out about a workplace campaign, or buy a raffle ticket for a chance to win a United Arts gift basket.
  • No money? No problem. We all know I’m a HUGE advocate of volunteering, and I’m sure the organizations would be happy to have you.

The takeaway: Orlando is a cool place to live. We have cool (cultural!) things to do. And United Arts is cool by helping to make that happen. Now might be a good time to return the favor.

Note: I’m attending the Central Florida Blogger Conference in September, and part of the program is to encourage bloggers to get the word out on the positive things some local non-profits are doing (it’s called Blogging for Good). I chose UA because it aligned most closely with my beliefs and blog content. In full disclosure, I have a chance to win a prize for this post, but win or lose, I stand behind this organization.

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This v. That: Should you visit someone in the hospital?

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As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently hospitalized for six days, so I’d like to think I know a thing or two about hospital visitors. Like anything else, however, it’s a highly personal decision (both on your part and that of the person you’re visiting), so please keep in mind that every situation is unique.

This (i.e., reasons why I didn’t particularly want visitors)

  • I was pretty tired and even when I wasn’t, I was supposed to be resting/recovering. Not the optimal time for socializing, especially since I felt somewhat obligated to entertain folks. Hard to do when you can barely sit up.
  • At any given time, I had at least one IV attached. They weren’t particularly comfortable, and I was super paranoid anytime anyone got anywhere near the bed, lest they should accidentally pull on the line. I shudder even now thinking about it (P.S. Thankfully, that never actually happened).
  • Do you know what they allow you to wear under hospital gowns? Nothing. Not a stitch. It’s weird to have a conversation when you’re basically naked. Yeah, you’ve probably never thought about that before, right??
  • I smelled funny. Besides the fact that I couldn’t shower or brush my teeth for the first 24 hours, I smelled like…hospital. The nurses said it had something to do with the plastic they use, as well as their alcohol/cleaning solutions. Regardless, it wasn’t something I wanted to subject visitors to.
  • Nurses are great, but are immune to embarrassment. They’ll poke, prod, and ask you less-than-comfortable questions no matter who’s in the room. You know who should have to hear when someone’s last bowel movement was? NO ONE.

That (i.e., reasons why you should visit):

  • The person asks you to.

That’s honestly the only reason I can think of. I totally understand that you might want to make sure for yourself that they’re ok, but save that for when they’re home. That’s what happened to me: I didn’t get many visitors during my six-day stay, so when I got home, I had no shortage of people to lift my spirits. No IVs, no nurses, and thank the Lord, no gowns.

The takeaway: Knowing someone is sick is scary, but remember that it’s scary for that person, too. Make sure you’re keeping their wishes ahead of your own. They’ll thank you for it.

Bonus:

  • If you’ve gotten the ok to visit, be sure to call first. You wouldn’t drop by someone’s house unexpectedly, right? Same principle. Once you’re there, strive to keep your visit to 20 minutes; 30 minutes max.
  • Bringing food for those convalescing is pretty standard practice. Just make sure you check first that they (1) aren’t under any dietary restrictions and (2) aren’t already inundated with food. My awesome co-workers waited until week two of my time at home, so right when we ran through the first batch of casseroles, we had more food delivered. Genius!
  • Don’t forget to check in with the spouse and/or family. My husband was so grateful not only to have people to talk to during the rough times, but that we had people to feed our cat and deliver work-related paperwork so he didn’t have to.

These are just my experiences. Other people may LOVE visitors. Have you ever had a hospital stay? Where do you stand on the issue?

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Chat a Bit About…Pulmonary Embolisms

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On Thursday, July 26, Hubby drove me to the emergency room because I was having trouble breathing. Caused, we thought, be a worsening of the bronchitis that I’d been (mis)diagnosed with earlier in the week. I ended up having emergency surgery that night, spending 6 days in the hospital (including the ICU), and being properly diagnosed with pulmonary embolisms. I tell this story partially as a journal of sorts, partially to answer some questions that have come up, and partially to offer some advice.

What are pulmonary embolisms?
You’ve heard of blood clots, right? They form for a variety of reasons, and depending on where they develop, they have different names. In the legs, it’s Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVTs); in the lungs, it’s a Pulmonary Embolism (PE); and in the brain, it’s a stroke.

How did you get blood clots?
Turns out I have something called Factor V Leiden (that V is pronounced “five”),  a genetic predisposition to over-clotting. Not everyone that has Factor V develops clots, but there is an increased risk. That risk gets even higher if you smoke (I don’t), if you’re overweight (I’m not), if you’re highly sedentary (not me) or if you’re on birth control (crap!).

You know those warnings that come with all birth control pills, about how you can develop blood clots? They aren’t fooling around. That’s a real threat. It probably didn’t help that I was on Yaz, which you may be familiar with thanks to all those TV ads offering to help sue the makers for causing…wait for it…blood clots. Hubby saw those ads years ago and expressed concern, but I stayed the course. In my defense, I talked to my gynecologist about it, but we thought the risk was low: I’m young and healthy, so surely I could beat the odds.

Wrong!

Why did they think you had bronchitis?
About a week and a half before my ER visit, I noticed I was out of breath as I used the stairs at work. I thought I was just coming down with something. The heavy breathing began in earnest that Sunday, and I eventually succumbed to peer pressure (Hubby and my co-workers) the next afternoon and went to my work’s wellness center, who told me I needed an x-ray of my lungs. I went to one of those evening clinics, and though I told the staff at least 3 times that I needed an x-ray, they simply told me I had bronchitis, gave me a breathing treatment and prescribed me antibiotics.

Are you totally pissed at them?
I’m actually not. I’m sure for 99% of people that complain about shortness of breath, bronchitis is the answer. I am, however, a little irritated that they ignored my request for a chest x-ray. It wouldn’t have shown that I had blood clots (you need bloodwork and/or a CT scan for that), but it would have shown I didn’t have bronchitis, and perhaps they would’ve probed a little more before sending me on my way.

The clots caused the shortness of breath?
Yes. My PEs were enormous, apparently, and caused 100% blockage of my lungs. The surgeon said it was the worst case he’d ever seen.

How serious was this?
Pretty bad. I didn’t know it at the time, but right after the surgeon spoke to me, he took Hubby aside and told him that he’d better start calling family and friends, because there was a chance this wouldn’t go well. Woah. Hubby was forbidden to tell me at this point, because they wanted me as alert and upbeat for the surgery as possible. But I’ve watched House. I know blood clots are Not Good, though it didn’t really dawn on me until Hubby called my brother and his wife, who immediately hopped in the car to come to Orlando. His wife is a nurse, and clearly understood what was at stake.

How did they get rid of the clots?
Ordinarily, they inject clot-busting drugs (like Heparin, I believe), and basically cross their fingers that the drugs attack the clots wherever they occur. My clots, however, were so large that there wasn’t time for such things. Luckily, my doctor was one of four in the state of Florida that is experimenting with a non-FDA procedure where they go in through your leg, insert tubes in the lungs, and release the drugs from there, thus decreasing the time it takes for the drugs to reach the clots. Twelve hours later, the tubes are removed and eventually, the smaller clots dissolve on their own through the help of other drugs.

How scary is emergency surgery??
Not that bad. At this point, I just really REALLY missed that little thing known as breathing (I was on oxygen, but it was still hard to catch my breath), and was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. Plus, they gave me badass anti-anxiety medications, so that helped for sure! (As an aside, after the first procedure, my chest actually hurt worse than it had before. Turns out I could *feel* the tubes in my lungs. Weird!)

How are you now?
Fine, actually. Stronger every day (when I first got out of the hospital, I would get tired just from brushing my teeth, but I’ve come back quite a bit). Here’s where I am:

  • I’m on a drug called Coumadin, a blood thinner. A normal person would be on it for about 9 months after a clot, but I may have to be on it for longer, given my genetic marker. Luckily, the food restrictions and side effects are minor: I have to watch my vitamin K intake (largely found in leafy greens), since that works against Coumadin, and I have to be careful not to injure myself, as I would bleed a lot.
  • I’m supposed to take it easy for 4 to 6 weeks, so that means no running. After that, we’ll see, because Hubby is understandably nervous about me possibly injuring myself.
  • Once you get clots, odds are increased that you could get others, so I’m under doctor’s orders to get up and move, to keep the blood flowing. Also, no more hormone-based birth control for me. Not ever.

The takeaway: Here are some things I’ve learned over these past few weeks.

  1. If everyone is telling you to go to the doctor, you probably should. I’m never enthused to see doctors, because I know they’re not magical and able to heal you with a simple co-pay, but when friends, co-workers and your spouse all vote “go,” you should probably go.
  2. Doctors aren’t infallible. Second opinions are invaluable. I’d never had bronchitis before, so I assumed the night clinic doc was right, but when I did research and realized my symptoms didn’t match (I didn’t have a heaving cough), I should’ve seen someone else immediately.
  3. You are your own best advocate. Ask lots of questions. Make sure you understand what’s going on. No one will fight harder for your health than you.
  4. You’re never too young to have a will. We don’t have one, and I handle all our finances. If something had happened to me, Hubby would’ve been screwed. While you’re at it, write down your usernames/passwords and store them somewhere safe.
  5.  If you’re on medication of any kind, know the side effects. The odds may be small that you’ll contract anything, but the warnings are there for a reason. TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY.

I know this was really long, but thanks for hanging in there. Coming up soon: hospital visitor etiquette.

Oh, I almost forgot the best part! On one of the first nights of their Orlando stay, my bro went to a fast-food restaurant and I guess his wife ordered a kid’s meal. They brought the kid activity flyer back for me, so I would have some puzzles and such to keep me occupied for a time. The riddle below was on that flyer exactly as it appears, I swear. Talk about hilarious timing!

Q: What’s the harder to catch the faster you run?

 

A: Your breath

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If a hanger is intentional, can it still be random?

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From time to time, I’ve posted photos of random hangers found around town. I’m not sure if this falls under the same category, because the photographs in question were taken quite deliberately. I’ll let you be the judge.

Brent Poore is both an RH reader and a real-life friend. He also happens to be a photographer. So when he came across what seemed like some innocuous (albeit AWESOME) hangers, he felt he had to act.

 

I know what you’re thinking: that plant is enormous! As it turns out, Brent’s hanger offerings are actually smaller than you’d think.

They’re hanger paperclips! They’re my new favorite thing ever. Maybe I should give them out attached to my blog business cards?? (The photo below is mine; all others are Brent’s, and used with his verbal permission.)

Brent was kind enough to send several photos. There are two that are so cool that I’m thinking I should update the RH logo. Which one do you prefer?

Possible logo #1?

Or possible logo #2?

As a reminder, here’s what it is currently (straight-up clipart):

I still have to get Brent’s ok, of course. And honestly, I haven’t had as much time to update the ol’ blog as of late, so likely the only place it would change would be at the top of each blog post. But it’s still an exciting possibility!

Thanks again, Brent, for the great photos and for including RH in your thoughts. Both are greatly appreciated. Remember, readers, if your spy with your little eye any random hangers, snap a shot and send it in. Your photo could end up in this space!

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Random Recipe: Breakfast Casserole

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Quick! What’s the difference among a quiche, a strata, and a frittata? Anyone? Apparently, they all contain egg and yummy mix-ins, but quiche has a pastry crust, strata uses chunks of bread as its base, and fritatta is similar to an omelet, but baked (not cooked on the stove top) and sliced into wedges (not pie slices). Who knew?

I modified the recipe below from the back of the hash brown bag, which called it an Italian Quiche. That didn’t sound right, because quiches typically have a delicate, thin crust. I figured since I made it my own, I could call it whatever I want. I was going to go with “fritatta,” since I always thought it was the same as a quiche but with a potato bottom. As you recently learned with me, that appears not to be the case, so I took the easy way out and am simply calling it a breakfast casserole. Sorry there aren’t more pictures; I didn’t realize it was going to be tasty enough to be blog-worthy.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1 package Simply Potatoes hash browns (I used the Garlic and Herb variety)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup diced onions (I used white)
  • grated cheese for sprinkling (any kind will do)
  • optional: fully cooked crumbled breakfast sausage, veggies of your choice, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Pre-heat oven to 425. Spray a rectangular glass pan (I used 11″x8″) with cooking spray to prevent sticking. You could also use a square pan or a pie plate, though the volume of liquid might make it difficult to get into the oven, so you might want to halve the liquid ingredients. Also keep in mind that the smaller the pan, the deeper the potato layer will be. Mix the potatoes and butter, then pack tightly form a crust. Bake for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, beat the half and half and egg in a medium-sized bowl. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder as desired.

Remove the crust from the oven. Reduce heat to 350. Sprinkle the onion and fully-cooked sausage in an even layer over the crust (NOTE: if your sausage didn’t come pre-cooked, brown it in a skillet as the crust is baking). Pour the egg mixture over the crust and return to oven. Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove mixture from the oven (it will not yet be set). Increase heat to 400. Sprinkle cheese on top and return to oven. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden and firm. Enjoy!

Options/tips

  • As-is, this is a gluten-free meal. If you remove the sausage and/or substitute it for vegetarian meat crumbles, this can easily be a vegetarian meal (not vegan, due to the dairy and eggs).
  • If you want to bump up the health quotient, add spinach, mushrooms and chopped bell peppers. I used turkey sausage, which helped cut down on the fat.
  • One of the reason I specified Simply Potatoesis that they often go on sale Buy One, Get One Free at Publix. Yay for value! (image courtesy of simplypotatoes.com)

The takeaway: We made this for dinner guests recently, and it was a big hit. Breakfast foods don’t have to be a morning-only affair. Not the healthiest, so maybe pair with a nice salad?

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Use Your Imagination: Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf

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Posts have been few and far between recently, but I had to let you know about a great place we visited this weekend: Putting Edge, a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf place. Did I mention it’s indoors? Yay for beating the Florida heat!

Some of the highlights included:

  • the music. We (ok, mostly me) rocked out to songs like Hey Mickey, You’re So Fine; ‘N Sync’s Bye Bye Bye; the Cha Cha Slide.
  • the challenges. Every fourth hole or so, there would be special challenges. I won’t list them all, because part of the fun was learning what they were, but not touching the carpet and not using your putter were two of our favorites. So much fun and out of the ordinary.
  • the decor. It’s not crazy golf, since nothing moves, but the glow-in-the-dark aspect was pretty cool. Each person gets their own glow-in-the-dark colored ball and matching glow stick, and the sets (is that what you would call them?) covered everything from under-the-sea to Holy grail knights.

The takeaway: Mini golf is a great activity for couples, families, out-of-town guests, you name it. Putting Edge takes it a step above by adding unique elements that make it so you can’t help but have fun. Plus, since it’s in the Festival Bay mall, you can walk through Outdoor World and marvel at the sheet number of items that feature camouflage.

  • Location: 5250 International Drive (inside the Festival Bay mall, adjacent to the movie theatre)
  • Hours: 11a-9p Mondays through Thursdays; 11a-11p Fridays and Saturdays; and 11a-7p Sundays
  • Cost: $10.50/person (discounts available for seniors and kids under 13)

Bonus: I didn’t take any photos, but they have kindly provided some on their site here.

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Use Your Imagination:
Tantalizing Tastes & Tours

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Last night, Hubby and I had the pleasure of going on a food tour with Tantalizing Tastes & Tours. Since I didn’t feel like shlepping my camera around, you’ll have to be satisfied with a word-only review.

Tantalizing currently has two types of tours: Taste of Orlando and Fine Dining Dinner. The former is a day tour of places like Four Rivers and Pom’s Tea House, while the latter visits establishments like Rusty Spoon and City Fire. We booked the night tour, since we’re already pretty familiar with Four Rivers, etc.

We met the tour guide (Tristan) and the tour van just off I-Drive at 6p on a Saturday night. There were a total of 4 couples, and the van was spacious, clean and, except for losing air conditioning for the second half of the tour, well-maintained. Tristan explained that we would be visiting 4 eateries (2 on I-Drive and 2 downtown) and would be sampling some of their specialties at each. She promised we would not leave hungry (she was right!).

I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll focus on where we went, not what we had:

  • The Nile: I’d never had Ethiopian fare, so I was both apprehensive and excited about this stop. In the end, I was glad we went, because I’m not sure I would’ve thought to visit an Ethiopian restaurant on my own.
  • Matteo’s: Originally from New York, Matteo’s specializes in family-style, Italian food from scratch.
  • Rusty Spoon: The decor, ambiance, and fellow patrons were a bit too trendy for me, but the food we locally sourced and tasty. This is the one place I probably wouldn’t go back to, but only because it’s not my style.
  • Dessert Lady: We received 2 huge sampler platters and demolished pretty much every spoonful. This is the one place I KNOW we’ll be going back to, as Hubby and I enjoyed every bite.

The takeaway: The night passed by quickly (the tour was about 3.5 hours, as promised), thanks to the gregarious nature of the tour guide and our companions, as well as a fun food trivia game that we played on the long-ish drive downtown.

The tours are a little on the expensive side. For the food/experience you’re getting, it’s definitely a good value; it’s just a little hard to write the check, so to speak (for me anyway). I’d recommend it for a special occasion, and for folks who want to try new cuisine but perhaps aren’t full-fledged foodies that have the time/energy to seek out the latest restaurants themselves.

  • Location: Depends on the tour; you’ll be told where to meet once you book your tour.
  • Hours: The Taste of Orlando tour starts at 11:30a and runs about 4 hours. The Fine Dining tour starts at 6p and runs about 3.5 hours. Because several of the dinner stops serve alcoholic beverages, all participants must be over 21.
  • Price: The Taste of Orlando day tour is $69. The Fine Dining evening tour is $85. The prices include whatever the restaurant chooses to feature (beverage, food, etc) but if you want more, you pay for that separately (you won’t need anything extra, believe me!). The gratuities for each stop are included, but it’s recommended to tip your tour guide 15% to 18%.
  • Bonus #1: In the spring, they’ll also be offering a Pub and Grub tour.
  • Bonus #2: none of the tours are identical, whether it be the locations themselves or what’s featured at each location, to encourage people to enjoy the tours multiple times.
  • Bonus #3: If you visit their site, you can sign up for monthly deals and specials. Yes, please!

Enjoy!

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Chat a Bit About…Losing Weight

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“How do I lose this extra weight?” The universal question on (most) everyone’s mind. For a long time, it was on mine as well. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get the scale to budge. I complained about it, half-heartedly scaled back my portions and tried not to think too much about it.

Until September 6, 2011. That was the date of a work event to which I wore a cute little dress I’ve had for years. It didn’t fit. I literally had trouble breathing the entire day. It was uncomfortable, embarrassing and evidently the wake-up call I needed. I certainly wasn’t about to buy a new wardrobe just to accommodate the weight gain. I’m way too frugal for that!

Not quite six months later, I’m proud to say that even my previous “skinny jeans” are loose on me. How did I do it? Read on. [Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist nor in the medical profession. This is what worked for *me*; I'm not suggesting that it will necessarily work for *you.*]

Diet

I’m not a calorie counter. I’ve tried it and hated it, so decided to simply be more aware of what I ate. To that end, I:

Brought canned soup for lunch every day. It was easy, it was cheap (there are usually coupons in the paper that I stacked with Publix’s Buy One, Get One Free Deals that occur regularly in the winter), and it kept my calories down.

  • Hint: Broth-based soups are almost always lower in calories/fat than their creamy counterparts.
  • Caveat: I recognize that canned anything typically contains a boat-load of sodium.

Identified my weakness and reduced my intake. It’s desserts, by the way. Hubby is a big fan of eating cookies and milk (or the like) in the evenings and I typically joined him. That was a LOT of extra calories, especially for so late in the day.

  • Hint: I originally tried buying the low-fat equivalent of whatever Hubby was buying. It didn’t work, as (a) it typically wasn’t as fulfilling and (b) I ended up eating more to compensate.
  • Caveat: Notice I reduced my dessert intake; I didn’t eliminate it altogether (which could easily lead to a binge down the road). Instead, I learned that a cookie satisfied my sweet tooth as much as the three or four I’d eaten prior. That a piece of really rich, decadent chocolate was as delicious as half the bag.

Looked at what I was eating for the whole day and made adjustments. If we went out to lunch at work , I made sure to eat a smallish dinner. If I knew we were going out for dinner, I balanced it with less snacking throughout the day (yes, I snacked during the day, but in a good way, with nuts or whole-grain crackers).

  • Hint: I still eat tasty things; I’m not all soups and whole grains. I use the filter of, “Is this the only time I’ll get to enjoy this?” If it’s a homemade chocolate-peanut butter birthday cake, then heck yeah I’m going to have a (smallish) piece! If it’s a store-bought platter of brownies, I’d probably skip it, since I can just pick some up later if I’m really craving it.
  • Caveat: Folks around me did test my will. I’m sure most of it wasn’t purposeful, but people, just because *I’m* not having a piece of cake doesn’t mean *you* can’t. I’m not judging you, so please don’t pressure me!

Exercise

I’m a runner. I don’t looooove it like some people do, but I enjoy it, and it’s the easiest way I know to burn calories. My workout regime changed over the course of several months, as I figured out what worked for me:

  1. I started off running about 15 miles a week.
  2. When I hit a weight plateau, I bumped it up to 20 miles a week. I was worried about the possibility of an injury, so tried not to go too far above that.
  3. Eventually I changed one or two of my weekly runs to interval training (spurts of sprints balanced with lower speeds, so your body doesn’t become complacent), as I’ve read that it’s good for weight loss.
  4. I also started lifting weights on the two days that I wasn’t running. Nothing major; just a few sets with my handweights at home. I never even broke into a sweat, but I saw a difference in my arm definition, which was nice.

By the numbers

 What’s the verdict?

  • Total pounds lost: 13. At one point it was actually 14, or 10% of my original body weight, which I was pretty thrilled about, but it just wasn’t feasible to maintain. Who am I to argue with my body?
  • BMI difference: From 23.3 to 21.1.
  • Clothing size changes: Originally a pant size of 10/11, I’m now a 6/7. From a shirt size of medium, I’m now a small. I can also fit into size-4 skirts, when I used to hover around 8.

Ironically, I’ve lost so much weight that I still need to buy a new wardrobe. Thus, my fascination with thrift stores, where I can buy new jeans (or whatever) on the cheap and not feel bad if this smaller size doesn’t last forever (I’m actually smaller than I expected to be, which I’m ok with, but I’ll be equally ok if I end up gaining some of it back over time).

Any tips you’d like to share for weight maintenance?

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