AIM Food: Its All in a Day

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In discussing what our next post was going to be, someone came up with the great idea of discussing food, and each of us would take one meal, and kind of make it like a progressive dinner, only it would be individual meals served throughout a single day. So you gotta know how excited I was about this challenge! First, its about food, right? And then, its about planning to have an entire day of food with my very good blog buddies. I would so love it if this were real and not imaginary. If you’d like to follow along with us throughout the day, start with Shelley, who is serving us breakfast.

I was assigned dessert (thank you, Lori! I was just trying to be polite by not nabbing it first thing.) And then I had to obsess over what I would serve my friends. What would be pleasing to all of them, and still fit into our “maintenance” food plan? Several things came to mind immediately. I wanted to include fruit, because its just a great season for fruit. And even though I use artificial sweeteners (Splenda) liberally myself, I’m pretty careful about not offering that to other people–a lot of people don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners. So I needed a recipe that would use a minimal amount of sugar or honey to sweeten it.

My first plan was to make these little honey and coconut bites. They are absolutely delicious, although a bit energy dense (code for small serving with higher calories.) And then I thought I’d simply serve some fresh fruit with this fruit dip. I thought it was a good pairing.

So I went to the farmer’s market this morning to get some strawberries and peaches. (Yes, I was taking this challenge very literally!) I thought those particular fruits would be terrific with the dip. When I finally got to the market, there were only blackberries and nectarines left. So I got those, and headed home. On the way home, I started thinking again. They weren’t exactly what I’d had in mind. What could I make that would use these two fruit?

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Bong bong bong!!! I could make that healthy fruit crisp. It is such a simple recipe, only has 127 calories per serving, and comes out perfect every time. I know people like it. And hello? It calls for granola as a topping! I could use Shelley’s Hippie Granola!

You cook the fruit first

You cook the fruit first

 

And then you add the granola and cook just a little longer.

And then you add the granola and cook just a little longer.

Oh and then–you gotta have ice cream with a fruit crisp. But of course, I wanted it to be frozen yogurt. Because hello? Most of us talk a lot about frozen yogurt. I’ve even enjoyed a trip to the froyo shop with both Shelley and Cammie!. So I got out my Cuisinart ice cream maker recipe book, and there is a very simple recipe for a low calorie peach frozen yogurt–perfect!

The finished crisp!

The finished crisp!

And while I actually made the fruit crisp (it can double as a breakfast topping for my regular morning yogurt,) you’re gonna have to imagine the froyo, because, alas, my friends are not actually coming over for dessert, and that is just a little too much good food to have in my house at one time! I will definitely make it at a later date this summer! The recipe is so simple–only three ingredients–a can of peaches packed in their own juice, 2 cups of vanilla low-fat yogurt, and 1/3 cup of sugar. It comes out to 110 calories per 1/2 cup serving.

Here’s the list of all of my AIM friends:

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

 

 

AIM: The Organized Approach

My whole life, pretty much, I’ve thought of myself as an unorganized person. It just was not a priority for me. But in thinking over this topic for the past month, I think my thinking was wrong. Yes, I am a procrastinator (most AIM posts are written Sunday evening a few hours before their Monday publication date.) Yes, I am sometimes messy (hey, I’m an artist–that’s how we all are, right : ) )

But I have come to the conclusion that I am somewhat organized. I like making lists. I like having a plan, and I like even more to have a back-up plan.

In all the house additions/renovations I have been doing, I have had to be organized. For the past two weeks, getting ready for my trip AT THE SAME TIME that I am clearing out an incredibly crowded bedroom and closet (bedroom/closet renovation are going to start while I’m out of town,) I have had to be organized.

But wait, I guess I’m supposed to be talking about how organization can help in weight loss maintenance. And that is one area where I am very sure that I am organized, and that it does help.

I try to grocery shop only once a week.

  • I don’t shop hungry.
  • I always have a list.
  • I shop the perimeter of the store to make sure I always have healthy options available in my house.

I like to cook, but I don’t like to cook every day.

  • I “batch-cook” proteins, and then wrap and freeze in individual portions.
  • I bake my low-cal breakfast treats, and then wrap each individually in foil so I can take them out of the freezer and put them directly into the toaster oven.
  • I have salad fixings on hand most weeks for the days I don’t even feel like cooking veggies.

I like to exercise, but I don’t always like to drive to the gym.

  • I organize my days so that if I have to go to town for something else, I add on a trip to the gym.
  • I’ve learned that if I don’t go to the gym first on those trips, it usually gets skipped (shopping wears me out : ) ) So I always go to the gym first.
  • I’ve added quite a few exercises to my PT (knee strengthening exercises) routine so it is a complete workout on the days that I don’t go to town.

Wow, I know it sounds like I have it all together. Some days, it all just goes out the window. Many days it is still a struggle just to maintain my weight loss. Having these organizational habits ingrained in my daily life help make maintenance manageable.

But just so ya know, I am leaving Sunday morning before 8am, and I am writing this post Saturday night at 10pm. The car is packed, and the bedroom and closet are cleared out. Procrastinator, yes. Organized, yes.

Be sure to check out my friends to see whether they think organization is necessary in the maintaining life.

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

 

AIM: Is Vanity Fair?

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Something I read somewhere made me wonder if vanity played a fair role in weight loss maintenance. Or was vanity just one factor that got people started in losing weight? Most conventional wisdom would say that vanity is NOT a good long-term weight loss motivator. So following through on that thought, one would presume that by the time you got to weight loss maintenance, vanity would have long since flown the coop.

But has it? The day after I proposed this topic to our AIM group, my BF and I had our usual daily conversation. She mentioned that at her quilt club meeting, someone said something about the wonderful goodies in the snack room. And my BF just said, “well, I wear a swimsuit year round (she is a scuba diver) and so that is a good motivator for me to stay away from the snack room.” I hadn’t even mentioned this topic!

The next day I had some friends over for lunch. One of the women only ate half of the [most worthy] cake that I served. She is my age and has the same sweet tooth that I have, but is fashion model beautiful. She periodically goes back to Weight Watchers to maintain the thin weight that she believes looks best on her. For her, vanity is a major motivator in maintaining her weight.

But what about the normal run-of-the-mill weight loss maintainer? What about a short dumpy arthritic wrinkled middle-aged woman who lost 100 pounds but is still overweight by all conventional wisdom? SURELY, vanity wouldn’t play a role in her weight loss maintenance?

Ha! As I thought about this topic for the past few weeks, and tried to objectively observe myself, I came up with a few observations.

  1. One of the reasons I go to the gym and work out hard is so that I will still “look good” in the clothes that I enjoy wearing.
  2. When the weather finally warms up in the spring, it takes me a long time to talk myself into putting on my swimsuit so I can exercise in the pool.

I kept thinking about this vanity thing. At first I thought, well its hard to be an American and not have vanity play a major role in your life. But then I thought about the women (and men) I had met in the slums of Nairobi and Port au Prince, and you could see that they enjoyed looking their best. A little bit of nail polish, a little hair product was gladly received. The young girls wearing little more than rags did their best to be “stylin’.”

Maybe its just human nature.

The problem with vanity being the MAJOR motivator for long term weight loss maintenance happens when it comes with a secondary presumption. When you believe that “looking good” will bring you joy, or contentment, or self-esteem, that is when vanity is no longer fair. That is when maintenance becomes a grand impossibility.

To see what other long term weight loss maintainers think about this topic, click on over to visit my AIM (Adventures in Maintenance) friends:

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Are We There Yet?


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Last month our AIM group tackled the question about that “last straw” or “AHA moment” in regards to finally losing the weight. I did a great job of answering that question. I had a very definitive answer about the EXACT MOMENT that I decided to go on a successful final diet (NOT…)

So for this month’s question, “How did you know when to transition to maintenance from loss mode? Was it a number or a size or something else? did you struggle to not want to “lose a little more”?” I will again be providing a very definitive answer (NOT…)

I love the title we chose for this question “are we there yet?”–everybody’s either asked this question or heard it asked, right? Because it almost gives me permission to be a very impatient parent who is tired of their kid asking that question. And let me just say–I am not impatient with the questioner. I am impatient with the very process itself. I am impatient with all the misinformation out there. I am impatient with the crazies promoting their version of crazy as THE ONE EASY WAY to lose weight and keep it off forever. I am impatient with the LACK of credible weight loss maintenance information out there.

Ahem… Now that I’ve got that out of my system…let me just try to answer these questions as simply and honestly as possible.

How did you know when to transition to maintenance from loss mode? I had dieted for a year and a half. It took forever to lose the last two pounds to reach 100 pounds lost. And then it took another forever to lose another two pounds. I was eating way less than was comfortable to just lose those two pounds, so I decided I was done “dieting.” But I also want to mention something else here. There is no transitioning. Whatever you are eating when you get to your lowest weight is exactly what you will need to be eating to maintain that weight. That is the truth. Do not deceive yourself otherwise.

Was it a number or a size or something else? Heavens no! (well, you know.  100 pounds is kinda cool.) But it was nowhere near my original intent. It was nowhere near my BMI or any normal weight you could find on any chart. And please. Please do not go on a diet to reach a certain size. I am still wearing clothes every day from size small to size extra large. Please do not let the size of the clothes you wear define WHO you are.

Did you struggle to not want to “lose a little more”? Yes, yes, and double yes. Sometimes I think wanting to lose a little more just helps you to maintain the weight you are! But if you want to lose a little more, and you think you are working pretty hard at that, and all you do is maintain your weight, then a certain sense of failure sets in… And that can be very discouraging.

What I want to say is this: LIFE IS FLUID. There are no concrete rules, no absolute boundaries. Because we are full of LIFE, and LIFE changes. What is outside of our life (our environment, our current life circumstances) changes. What is inside our life (our biological makeup, our cellular structure, the function of our organs, OUR AGE) changes constantly. It is frustrating, but it is what it is. Maintenance is for life. You have to adjust it as you go.

Me at my heaviest (257 pounds)

Me at my heaviest (257 pounds)

Current me, subject to change without notice.

Current me, subject to change without notice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to visit my friends to see what they have to say about weight maintenance!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

 

AIM: The Last Straw

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This month we are tackling one of the questions we were asked in our questionnaire:

1. What was your “last straw” moment, or your kick in the butt, or whatever it was that finally made you say “I just have to do this (get healthy)”?

Well, I have to be honest here. Even though I promoted this as one of the questions we tackle, I knew that I did not have a good singular answer.

I knew that I had a LOT of moments that SHOULD have been “the last straw.”

  • Like when I would take my nieces on a special trip to Lake Tahoe, and I would sit on a bench in the shade just watching them.
  • Or when I admitted to a special group of friends that sometimes I just felt like running out the front door, but I wasn’t physically able to do that.
  • Like when I would limp into the house from the car after my 12 hour shift, thinking, I guess I’m just going to die early (because I can’t give up chocolate chip cookies.)
  • Knowing that my blood pressure and blood sugar were starting to increase just a bit (and my dad had long-term hypertension and diabetes.)
  • Or when something popped in my knee while taking a shower, and my leg hurt so bad that it literally took me half an hour to tie my shoe laces (so I could go to the ER.)

That last one. Man, I really thought that was going to do it for me. But no. I couldn’t seem to change the way I ate and thought and moved.

So my last straw seems to be an accumulation of years of quiet acceptance and desperation combined.

And then a friend had the temerity to ask if I would go with her to Weight Watchers. And after turning her down, and struggling on my own to try to cut back on calories (and being very very hungry…) I had to admit to myself that I needed help.

I was a reluctant convert. And VERY skeptical that anything would “take.”

The only thing I had going for me was a very firm conviction that anything I did would have to be “for the rest of my life.” (which was also why I was so very reluctant to make a change in the first place.)

Ha! And I was right. I still have a very occasional chocolate chip cookie, but they are no longer a part of my daily diet. And now, as I write this, I am waiting for a butternut squash to cook so I can try it in a new salad recipe I found, and will have that salad along with some strawberries and cottage cheese for my “special” Sunday night supper. For dessert, I might make my Apple Blackberry Sour Cream Pie in a Bowl. You can see that I was right about making a change for the rest of my life. When I was so stuck on my old way of eating, I never would have dreamed of trying a salad that had butternut squash in it.  But you know what? Its a great change! I do believe that I will be eating this way for the rest of my life.

I so wish for all of you who are looking for that “last straw” or that “AHA moment” that you will find what you are looking for. Maybe it won’t be a big recognizable moment. Maybe it will just be that little admission “I need help,” or the quiet desperation that finally reaches the tipping point. Whatever it is, I know that I and my AIM friends wish the very best for you. If you have more questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

And be sure to check out the other AIMers. I can’t wait to read about their last straw!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: What’s in My Cart

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Can you believe my good luck? Last month, when we introduced our “ask us almost anything” questionnaire, someone actually wanted to see pictures of a regular grocery shopping trip for us. And my AIM friends very kindly agreed to make this the first question we answered.

Right up there with my love of food is my love of grocery shopping. When I travel to another town, one of the things I always do is to check out the grocery stores. I love visiting Trader Joe’s (my latest love is their peppermint tea, and I just got a box of their Chai tea bags–it has all the spices that I put in my homemade chai without all the work. I tried it this morning–most excellent!) Whole Foods is another fun store to visit, although they are a bit pricey for me. And of course, I do love to go to Costco. I have to be careful there though. The sheer volume of food is sometimes too much for a single person. (Latest Costco find–Skinny Pop Popcorn–for those who might be too lazy busy to make microwave popcorn…)

This is my favorite corner of Costco:

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So, returning to my grocery shopping trip.You know how one of the first things “they” tell you is to shop the perimeter of the store? “They” are right! I do that!

This is my regular route through the little grocery store that I do most of my shopping at. I go in the door by the produce, because that is my favorite thing to buy.

IMG_0205This day I got a few potatoes. I don’t buy too many, because I just don’t eat them that often. I always try to get little ones, about 3-5 ounces each. These are Yellow Finn potatoes. I love them because they have such flavor that you don’t need butter to enjoy them.

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This next picture is for my friend, Lynn. Aren’t those some beautiful artichokes? Artichokes don’t have many calories, and are very high in fiber. The problem with artichokes is that you are required to eat them with fat–either butter or mayonnaise. I’ve gone the gamut from using low calorie spreads to nothing. Now I eat them with a carefully measured out teaspoon or 1/2 Tbsp of butter. Just enough to get a bit of a taste on each leaf.IMG_0210

Baby carrots are a weekly purchase. Sophie and Bessie get a couple each night with their dinner. They both think I am starving them to death, so the carrots act as a kind of filler. I get to eat a few of them myself while I am feeding the dogs and getting my dinner ready. IMG_0212

I often buy scallions and cilantro without really knowing what I might be using them for. Its about 66 cents for both of them, and I do like having them on hand. This day I knew there was some recipe I wanted to try that called for both, and I couldn’t remember what it was. When I got home, I remembered that I wanted to try this Creamy Cilantro and Avocado Dressing recipe, recommended by Helen. Low calorie and SOOOO yummy! IMG_0213 Oh, I made sure to get the price in this picture. Isn’t that a great price for broccoli? My broccoli love comes and goes. I like to mix it with cauliflower and baby carrots.IMG_0214

I actually didn’t buy any fruit on this trip. I already had enough at home, and I have learned that for me it is best to not have too much fruit in the house. I feel pressured to eat it all. So I always have fruit, but I don’t go overboard. I never get tired of apples. Fuji’s are my favorite, and Pink Ladies come in a close second.

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I always have the pasteurized egg white stuff in the fridge. And I like to keep whole eggs too. I get those at the little farm stand, hoping that the chickens that produce those eggs are treated a little nicer than the grocery store chickens.IMG_0216

I didn’t buy any dairy on this trip. That is another thing that I have to be careful about. I eat yogurt and cottage cheese regularly, but I usually keep one or the other on hand. And not too much, or I will feel pressured to eat it before it “goes to waste.” Oh, and I also keep half and half for my coffee. I actually measured it one day, and I use about 1 1/2 Tbsp per cup of coffee.

I have to be careful to not buy too much meat. My little freezer gets too crowded. So this day I just bought one piece of salmon (2 servings) and 1 huge chicken breast (4 servings.)IMG_0217 IMG_0220 Okay. This is not something I buy all the time. I have rediscovered these La Tortilla Factory high fiber tortillas. Only 100 calories. I use them for those Breakfast Fruit Wraps. IMG_0224

Here’s the first time (on this trip) that I ventured into the center of the store. I like these sunflower seeds. I have to tell you, I don’t really think they are that low sodium. A commenter a long time ago did a big expose’ on how David’s does their figuring , and I believe her. Anyway, so far no one’s telling me to limit my salt, so I do eat them on road trips.IMG_0225

And just showing the whole trip here, I did stock up on Diet Coke. I still drink it. I usually have one diet coke in the evening.
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Oh, and one more little “non-diet” item. I really really like M&M’s with popcorn. So once every two weeks, I have a bowl of popcorn and 1/2 of a pack of M&M’s. IMG_0228

So there you have it. Probably a little more than you really wanted to know about how I shop. Thanks so much to those of you who joined in and asked us questions. We’ll be back in a month with more answers. Be sure to check out my AIM partners to see what’s in their shopping carts!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

 If you have more questions, just click here, and you will be able to ask us (almost) anything!

AIM: Winter Maintenance

This sign, that our friend Lynn found, got all of us AIMer’s thinking about the hazards of winter weight loss maintenance.

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I do hear people talking about how hard it is to lose or maintain weight loss in cold weather. Comfort food and all that jazz. But just think about it. Winter is at least 25 per cent of the year (and in some places it lasts longer than that!) If you are not working on your weight loss or maintenance for 25% of the time, no matter what time of the year, you are not going to be successful. That’s just the way it is.

Before I started losing weight (nine years ago this month!) I was ALL about the comfort food. Pretty much everything I ate was comfort food, and I was good at figuring out how to make my favorite foods. No holds barred! I still remember when I realized that fat was the key to deliciousness (not sure why it wasn’t until I was an adult that I figured this out.) Everything was better with MORE! FAT! on it. It was VERY comforting. Until it wasn’t. Because, darn it, at 255 pounds it wasn’t even comfortable to sit in my favorite chair. That’s just not right.

So when I started Weight Watchers in January 2005, I thought there were foods I could never have again. And then I learned–hey, if you’re willing to learn and adjust your tastes and expectations, you can still have the essence of that comfort food and it can be a regular part of your diet! That was a good day when I discovered that. The best example I can think of is my mom’s beef stew. I just thought anything with gravy was out forever. And then I learned that you could still thicken the sauce with a minimum of fat, measure the flour or corn starch that you use to thicken it, and bump up the veggies to meat ratio, so you can still have a nice sized serving.

My scones have undergone a complete metamorphosis! The original recipe (which was delicious and COMFORTING,) used white flour and heavy cream. I’ve tried a lot of different versions, but my current scone recipe, which uses rice flour, oatmeal, and greek yogurt is my favorite, and is also the lowest calorie version. The key I learned there was to add a LOT more fruit to make the scones seem luxurious and satisfying. I ate these scones all last winter while I was losing 25 pounds.

The sign is EXACTLY right. If you choose to take the route of “NO WINTER MAINTENANCE” you will indeed be”TRAVELING AT YOUR OWN RISK.” Don’t do it. Its just not that comfortable.

This month we’re asking you to participate in our post with an “Ask Us Almost Anything” feature. Just click here, and you’ll be directed to a survey where you can ask whatever you’d like about long term weight loss maintenance. It will be fun to see what topics you all come up with.

Be sure to check out my friends for their views on winter maintenance. I’m pretty sure they might have something different to say about the risks and rewards of traveling this rocky road of weight loss maintenance.

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Letters to Santa

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Dear Santa,

I’m supposed to write a letter to you this Christmas. After years of buying my own Christmas presents, I’m finding it hard to write to you about what I am wishing for. Maybe if I just chat with you for a while about things we have in common, I’ll feel more comfortable sharing my material wishes.

Can I speak honestly with you, Santa? I feel like we have a LOT in common. Thank GOODNESS no one has taken it upon themselves to write a poem about me. But if they had, they might have included several similar lines–that bit about the jelly belly, and laughing a lot. And then that  reference to being chubby and plump! Don’t you find that irritating? I mean, what right do they have including that description of you in a poem about all the good you are doing all over the world??

Anyway, let’s talk about my favorite subject: food!! Specifically, COOKIES. How do you do it? Sometimes I can avoid the beastly things–I just don’t go to some functions that are all about the cookie. And sometimes I can ignore them–like not looking to that side of the church (where the cookies are served) when the service is over. But if I was faced with free cookies hundreds of times in a single night, and especially when I was working and stressed and tired, my defenses would wear thin, and the cookies would eventually win out.

So what do you do? Do you eat cookies all night long on Christmas Eve, and then moderate your intake for the rest of the year? What are your thoughts about the addictive qualities of sugar? Some folks even call it toxic! Do you think that could be true? And what about that combo of fat-sugar-salt? All the best cookies contain these three ingredients! Do you find them as irresistible as I do? What’s the answer, Santa? I really want to know.

Can I share with you some of the things I have tried? This recipe is the most delicious and healthiest cookie recipe I’ve ever made. Its not calorie free, though. Which, of course, is why it tastes so good. But at least you can feel virtuous as you indulge. And that Katie–she has a LOT of dessert recipes on her website. To be honest, some of them look better than they taste. And some of them have a lot of calories. But some of them are really tasty, and she has single serving recipes. And that works really well for me. If I know the recipe is there, it is like a safety net. It is there in case I just HAVE to have something sweet. And its a single serving, so if I do make it, there are no leftovers calling to me from the back of the freezer. The other day, after a long workout at the gym, I wanted a cupcake. I even went to the cupcake shop. But they didn’t have their cupcakes made yet. So I went on home. And I thought about cupcakes all day long. Then I remembered Katie’s single serving cake recipes. And THEN (and I don’t know if this is good or bad, Santa) I googled “single serving buttercream frosting.” And do you know, they have a recipe for that on the internets? It might not be the very best choice, but I am thinking that when I really really want a cupcake, this is a good option. By making it at home I have control over the ingredients, and especially over the portion size. Because Santa, if they give me a big cupcake, I am going to eat it. Does that make me a bad little girl?

Thanks for listening, Santa. I feel better just talking over my cookie issues with you. I think I’ll be able to take care of Christmas myself this year. And have Mrs. Santa make some of those healthy cookies for you later in the year when you are needing a little treat. After all, a whole year is a LONG time to wait for a cookie!

Love, debby

Please join in with your thoughts about cookies and sugar. I’d really like to hear what you think. But remember, be nice! After all, it is Christmas, and Santa’s elves, Grumpy and Jeevy, are watching and listening!

Be sure to check out my AIM friends for their letters to Santa. Its like getting a little glimpse at the inner workings of the mind of a long-time weight loss maintainer!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you would like us to address!