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bilbl_superOn Sunday, June 14th my sister, 3 friends, and I got up super early and drove up to San Francisco’s Presidio area to participate in the inaugural Mermaid Series Tour de San Francisco bike ride.  I was so excited to take part in this ride because I’ve participated in Mermaid Series events a few times in the past, and appreciated how organized and fun they are. Plus, I love riding my bike, and who better to do it with than my sister and my 3 BFFs?  Not to mention, I’ve never ridden my bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, so that would be exciting, too.

We’d signed up for the 7-mile ride, choosing the more conservative mileage since this was our first attempt.  I kept thinking we should’ve signed up for the 13-miler, but once I saw the hills involved in that leg of the ride, I’m so glad we stuck with the shorter distance.

Since it was 6:30am when we left my house, the ride up to the City was smooth and easy.  Hardly any other crazies on the road at that time of the morning on a Sunday.  We even found a primo parking area, which made the start of the race really nice.

Of course we had to stop and take some pre-race photos to capture the moment.

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Geared up and ready to ride!

Geared up and ready to ride!

It was a foggy morning, which is usual at Crissy Field in the morning, but it was the perfect temperature for the bike ride.  As we made our approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, we all took photos to capture the beauty all around us.

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As we turned that corner, we realized what they meant by a “medium-sized hill.”  I guess the Mermaid Series is all about the art of understatement, because the hill was quite steep.  I rode it almost all the way to the top, but eventually had to get off my bike and walk.  One of my goals for next year’s ride (because my friends and I all plan on doing this ride again next year) is to make it up the hill all the way without getting off to walk.

Once we hit a really scenic area right before we’d get on the Bridge, we all stopped to take photos again.

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I love this pic of my sister and me and our

I love this pic of my sister and me and our “dueling” bikes.

Now it was time to get on the Bridge and ride. The wind was blowing, the fog was rolling, the cars were speeding by, and other bikers kept saying, “on your left,” but despite these obstacles, I was truly awed at the fact that I was riding my bike on this magnificent bridge.  There really is nothing else like it anywhere.

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The journey toward Sausalito was tough – my legs were pumping and we were fighting the elements, including that brutal wind, which offered a ton of resistance.  There was also a very steady incline the entire time.  All of this didn’t phase me, though, because if I have one thing going for me with these big thighs it’s that they’re strong and powerful.

We made it to the Sausalito side and found another opportunity to take a water break and snap a few more photos.

My sis and I, happy that we made it across.

My sis and I

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you're only 5'3

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you’re only 5’3″, taking a selfie is tough business.

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Luckily, we found two nice sisters who were willing to take a proper group photo for us. I love this photo so much, and have made it my cover photo on FB.

Inspired that we’d made it halfway across the Bridge, we knew heading back to the end would be much easier. Not only was the wind on our side this way, but we also had a steady decline on the way back, too.  I had my bike on the highest gear and my had on the break almost the entire way back.  The only harrowing part was the cross traffic of bikers, and the “expert” riders who were also trying to pass in a very narrow space.  Since this wasn’t a race, but just a ride, I’m not sure what the need was to pass with so little room.  Not to mention that most of these people weren’t even taking part in the ride.  I guess people like speed.  I’m not one to talk – I’m highly competitive and prefer going as fast as possible, most of the time.

I got away from most of the “traffic” so that I could take a few more action shots and a quick video.

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The entire time I was riding to the finish line, I just kept thinking about how happy I was to share this experience with these awesome ladies.  And about how far I’d come – at my heaviest weight I might have been able to make the 7-miles, but I know I would’ve been so much slower and very sore for days afterward.  And I would have been ultra concerned with how my big butt looked on that cruiser.  I can honestly say this thought didn’t even cross my mind once during the ride.  I know I still have a big booty, but I’m proud of it, and all of my curves.  Doing these kinds of events always solidifies for me how much I’ve accomplished in my weight loss and fitness goals.

Once we hit the finish line, which we crossed as a 5-pack, we triumphed over our achievement.  You can’t miss those huge smiles on our faces at a job well done.

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I cannot say enough about what a great time we had on this ride.  It was scenic, challenging, and so much fun.  If you have the chance to do a Mermaid Series race, ride, or swim, I highly recommend it.  My sister, friends, and I all said we’re looking forward to making this an annual adventure. Can’t wait!

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celebration

We’ve hit the time in the summer that is both a blessing and a curse for me.  A blessing because celebrating special events with friends and family is always fun.  A curse because these memory-making events always come with indulgent foods and drinks. Still, I feel lucky to have so much to celebrate over the course of these two weeks:

  • Italian Heritage Night at the SF Giants (Tuesday night)
  • My dad’s birthday (Wednesday night)
  • A Silpada party (last night)
  • Impromptu BBQ w/ my parents (tonight)
  • SJ Giants baseball game (tomorrow night)
  • Dinner out with a friend for my birthday (Tuesday)
  • My birthday (next Wednesday)
  • 4th of July
  • My friend’s annual 5th of July party

At each of these events, I’m going to make the best choices possible.  For example, Wednesday night at my dad’s birthday dinner, which we had at a local bocce court and restaurant, I ordered steamed clams and mussels in a white wine/tomato/garlic broth.  Healthy and very delicious, but we also had red wine. Which is fine, and wouldn’t affect my weight loss, except that I had a beer at the Giants game the night before, and I had cucumber sangria at my party last night.  See what I mean?  None of these choices alone are bad; but together they make it hard to lose weight.

Which is honestly why I didn’t weigh in on Wednesday.  I’d had an Italian sausage (no bun), beer, and a bit of kettle corn the night before at the game, and I knew it would put me up on the scale, even if it is just water weight.

Now I’m not saying that during this next week and a half I’m going to throw everything out the window and eat with wild abandon while lazing around at home inactive. That’s just not me anymore.  I’m still making good choices, I’m still eating small portions, and I’m still working out as much as ever.  But at this point in my weight loss journey, indulging a bit and working out equals maintaining my weight, not losing. 

Which I’m fine with – until July 6th.  I’ve decided that I’m perfectly happy to maintain my weight loss for the next week or so.  I’m actually really happy with the way I look and feel right now.  I’m proud of all that I’ve accomplished and enjoy seeing the person who looks back at me in the mirror.  But I still weigh more than I’d like to, so I’m not quite ready to call this my goal weight.  Not just yet.

So beginning on July 6th I’m going to get back to my weight loss mode.  I want to drop another 30 pounds, and while I know it’s going to be a lot harder to do it now that I’m at this weight, I know I can do anything I put my mind to.  Those 30 pounds aren’t going to come off in just one summer, but I can lose 1/3 – 1/2 of them if I get back to being a bit stricter with my food choices.

Which is not to say that I can’t have fun this summer, but I want to keep my ultimate goal in mind. My journey isn’t over just yet, and I’m excited to continue on with it after this brief rest stop.

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Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend and were able to spend time with friends and family.  My weekend was a great mixture of walks, a BBQ, time relaxing and reading, and even going outside my comfort zone a bit by going to a Match.com Stir event on Friday night.  While I’m glad I had the experience, it was clear to me that I’ll never attend another one of those events.  The word I can use to describe it was awkward.  People were standing around not talking to each other, and when I tried to start conversations several times with “starters” (being the teacher that I am), people responded with one-word answers.  Yikes!  Plus, the people there just weren’t those I’d be interested in hanging out with.  I decided that I’d much rather take my chances going to a local restaurant or bar with girlfriends than attend another one of those painful events.  Still, I’m glad I tried it, otherwise I’d never know. But let’s get one with today’s FMM.

Sarah over at Losing Weight and Having Fun is hosting FMM for the time being, and I’m excited to discover her blog and meet a bunch of new bloggers.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: Losing Weight and Having Fun so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Let’s Get Sporty

1. Are you following the World Cup? If so which team are cheering on?

No.  I don’t watch soccer and haven’t caught any of it.  If pressed, I’d say that I’m glad the Italian team won against England (sorry Sarah), and of course I’ll cheer for Team USA.

2. What is your favorite sport to watch either on TV or in person?

I love baseball and football.  Baseball is definitely something I prefer to go and watch at the ballpark, but football is something I’ll watch any which way.

3. Which local team (regardless of sport) do you support?

I’ve been a huge fan of the SF Giants and SF 49ers since I was a young girl.  More recently I’ve really gotten into going to the local San Jose Giants games, too, because so many of the players end up heading up to the SF Giants.  Plus, the SJ Giants games are really inexpensive ($10 each), very family friendly, and you can often get free tickets from local stores.

4. What is your favorite sport to play?

I’ve never really played a sport, because growing up I wasn’t athletically inclined.  Now I love fitness, but still haven’t tried my hand at a group sport.  I’ve enjoyed playing badminton at family reunions, and I think volleyball is fun, too.

5. Were you ever in a sports team?

As I mentioned in #4, I’ve never played a sport.  One time in 5th or 6th grade I tried out for the volleyball team, but didn’t make it, and I guess I felt so discouraged that I never tried again.  Growing up I was much more into riding bikes than I was into group sports.

6. Have you ever traveled a long distance to see your team play?

I never have, but I would be willing to, especially to go to The Superbowl.

7. Do you have a favorite stadium/sports venue you have been to?

I absolutely love going to AT&T Park, where the SF Giants play. It’s a gorgeous stadium where there isn’t a bad seat in the house. I’m also really excited that the new Levi’s Stadium for the 49ers is going to be right in my backyard (about 20 minutes from home), in Santa Clara.

8. What is your favorite food you associate with sporting events?

The food at AT&T park is amazing, and like Sarah, I love the garlic fries.

9. Do you have a favorite sporting song?

Nothing comes to mind.  I think it’s fun that they play Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline at Boston Red Sox games, but since that’s really not my team, I’m not sure if that applies.

10. Is there a sporting event you would like to go to in another country?

I’d love to go to the Olympics someday.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Sarah’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

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Happy Monday! Today has actually been a pretty easy transition back to the “real world” after having the week off for spring break.  As much as I hate standardized testing, it’s come in handy that we started it this week in my English classes – it makes for a smoother entry into the work week.   Because I wasn’t ready to leave Hawaii behind just quite yet, I decided to go Aloha style for my OOTD (you might’ve seen this already on Instagram, if you follow me):
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For the months of March and April, FMM is moving locations.  Sarah over at Losing Weight and Having Fun is hosting FMM for the time being, and I’m excited to discover her blog and meet a bunch of new bloggers.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: Losing Weight and Having Fun so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Favorite things

1. Favorite color? (be specific… what shade of blue/green/red etc)

hot pink  As much as I’m drawn to dark colors, my absolute favorite color is hot pink.  I’d love to get my Beetle convertible painted this color someday.

2. Favorite piece of clothing you own? I’ve been loving skirts and dresses lately, because I can wear them a lot longer than I can pants as I lose weight.  I guess I’d say my Michael Kors skirt is my favorite, because it’s so versatile. I can wear it with sweaters, tshirts, or tanks and it can change the look completely.

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3. Favorite smartphone app? I’d have to say MyFitnessPal, because I love how easy it makes logging all my food, water, and exercise.  Plus, I get so much inspiration and support from all my friends on there – I go to it multiple times a day.  If you’re on MFP, too, send me a note and add me, if you’d like.

4. Favorite city? I’d have to say San Francisco.  There’s something for everyone there – the beach, art, shopping, amazing food, nightlife, and outdoors activities.  Plus, the city itself is just so beautiful.

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The Changing Light  by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (one of my favorite poets, one of the original Beat Poets, poet laureate of SF, and owner of City Lights Bookstore):

The changing light

            at San Francisco

    is none of your East Coast light

           none of your

                   pearly light of Paris

The light of San Francisco

             is a sea light

                       an island light

And the light of fog

        blanketing the hills

    drifting in at night

           through the Golden Gate

                      to lie on the city at dawn

And then the halcyon late mornings

    after the fog burns off

      and the sun paints white houses 

                     with the sea light of Greece

      with sharp clean shadows

       making the town look like

                             it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o’clock

                                    sweeping the hills


And then the veil of light of early evening


And then another scrim

           when the new night fog

                            floats in

And in that vale of light

                   the city drifts

                           anchorless upon the ocean

5. Favorite strength training exercise? I’ve mentioned it before, but since mid January I’ve been doing the Tone It Up exercises, and I absolutely love them.  They use your own body weight, along with small dumbbells or kettlebells to tone.  The difference I see in my body is noticeable.  Plus, the routines are so fun, and the community is really supportive.

6. Favorite vegetable?  This is like asking me my favorite book – I love so many that it’s difficult to choose just one.  Maybe zucchini because there’s so much you can do with them – make “zoodles,” stuff them, bake them, sauté  them, make zucchini fries, steam them, or have them raw with a crudité.

7. Favorite hair product? (shampoo, styling, conditioner etc) I’ve been using Pureology, and I love the way that it keeps my color fresh, but I’ve been noticing that my hair is drier since I’ve started using it.  I’ve been using Redken’s Smooth Lock, too, so I’m not sure if it’s the shampoo/conditioner or the styling product that is drying it out.  Either way, I think I need to make a change and see if it helps. On a recent trip to Dry  Bar to get my hair blown out, I was amazed at how shiny my hair looked.  I love how their products smell, so I’m thinking about trying their shampoo, conditioner, and styling products for a bit to see if they work better for me.

8. Favorite animal? Is there any question that I’m going to say dogs?

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9. Favorite superhero?  

bilbl_super Super Bellina 

Oh, did you mean a comic book superhero?   Then I’d have to say Wonder Woman, I guess.  :)

10. Favorite recipe? (share the details with us)

A recipe I make again and again, in summer and winter is my version of Hungry Girl’s 10-Alarm Crockpot Turkey Chili.  It’s hearty, satisfying, delicious, easy to prepare, and has great nutritional stats.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Sarah’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

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Happy Monday! I had a great weekend! It kicked off Friday night with a girls’ night at a favorite wine bar with two of my BFFs and my sister, continued with 3 hours of volunteering and a great walk with Sofi on Saturday, and ended with Sunday spent organizing my both my closets.  That last one is the one that took the biggest load off of my mind.  I went through every single piece of clothing I own – things I had packed away in storage containers under the bed, things in the closet of my second bedroom, things I hadn’t worn in months – and decided if I was donating or keeping it.  I separated the items I was donating by category: workout/casual, business/dressy, and pjs/lingerie – having been at a charity on Saturday, I see how much time they spend sorting through clothing donations, so I figured I’d save them some time.  Then I hung/folded/organized each item I was keeping.  I feel SO good when I look at my closet.  

For the months of March and April, FMM is moving locations.  Sarah over at Losing Weight and Having Fun is hosting FMM for the time being, and I’m excited to discover her blog and meet a bunch of new bloggers.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: Losing Weight and Having Fun so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Would you rather…

1. Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?

I haven’t really been eating a lot of ice cream lately, but I guess I’d choose chocolate.

2. Coke or pepsi?

Neither.  I don’t drink soda (diet or otherwise) at all anymore.  Not only is it bad for you, but because of my VSG, I’m not supposed to have any carbonation.

3. Cats or dogs?

Dogs all the way.  I grew up with an adorable Maltese/poodle mix named Sweetie.  And you guys know now I have my adorable Sofi, who turns 3 this Wednesday:

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4. Summer or Winter?

Summer.  Not only do I get 8 weeks off from work because I’m a teacher, but I really do love being outside and active.  Spending my days swimming, biking, and taking long walks with Sofi are the best.  Not to mention the plethora of fresh fruits and veggies available. I think this is going to be one of my best summers yet, because I’ll be able to wear lots of clothing styles that I haven’t felt comfortable wearing before.  Plus, I have some fun local outings planned.

5. Early bird or night owl?

I’m a night owl at heart, but because of my job I also wake up early.  So I just don’t get much sleep.  ;)

6. Baseball or football?

I love them both.  I’m a huge San Francisco fan – 49ers and Giants – and I watch as many games as I can.  Since the SF Giants have a minor league team here in San Jose, I love going to see those games, too. Not only are they less expensive than the major league games, but it’s fun to see the  up-and-coming  players.  Plus, the games are very family friendly.

7. Glasses or contact lenses?

I had LASIK surgery in 2000, so I don’t have to wear either.

8. Coffee or tea?

I’m a huge coffee drinker, but I have started to drink a lot more tea lately.  It’s become a nightly ritual for me to have a cup of tea or two after dinner.  I absolutely LOVE David’s Tea – I’m obsessed!

9. Mac or PC?

Mac, no question.

10. Roller coasters or not?

I was talking to my sister about this a couple of weeks ago.  For so many years, I haven’t been able to ride roller coasters because I was so heavy at 315 pounds that the safety harness wouldn’t be able to “click” down.  Now that I’ve lost all this weight, I am so excited to ride roller coasters this summer at Santa Cruz Boardwalk and at Great America.  I cannot wait!!

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Sarah’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

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Happy Monday! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This weekend was a mix of getting some spring cleaning and organizing done, meeting new friends, and volunteering at a local county park, and spending quality time with my family. All in all, a great time!

For the months of March and April, FMM is moving locations.  Sarah over at Losing Weight and Having Fun is hosting FMM for the time being, and I’m excited to discover her blog and meet a bunch of new bloggers.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: Losing Weight and Having Fun so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Holiday Traditions

1. Do you celebrate St Patrick’s Day? This is what I wore to school today:

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My family and I have always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by eating corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, and Irish soda bread.  I went to my parents’ house last night, in fact.  Seven years ago my favorite uncle passed away on St. Patrick’s Day after a rather sudden illness, and so now it’s also become a time for us to remember him.

2. Which is your favorite holiday to celebrate? I think I’d have to say Christmas, since it’s a whole season of being kind, preparing for family and friends to visit, and giving gifts.

3. Do you have a favorite ‘holiday’ food? In my Italian family, each holiday comes with its own assortment of traditional foods, so it would be hard to choose just one.  I guess if pressed, I’d have to say that I love having ravioli on Christmas Day.
4. What do you think of holiday parades?  I don’t really think much of them, to be honest.  I enjoy watching the Thanksgiving Day parades on TV in the background, but other than that, I don’t really watch holiday parades.
5. Have you ever been part of a parade? Yes, several years ago I marched in the San Francisco Gay Pride parade with friends who were working with an organization called Stop AIDS.  We all wore shirts that said, “Got Condoms?” because the Got Milk? campaign was new that year.  It was an amazing experience!  Such a celebration of life, with the underlying reminder that so many people had fought hard for freedoms that people now were able to experience.  My own uncle was part of the marches and vigils in San Francisco after Mayor Mascone and Harvey Milk were assassinated.
6. Do you decorate your house for the holidays? Yes, I decorate for every holiday and season.  This weekend I spent time decorating for spring.  My wreath on the front door and my welcome mat both have pretty flowers. I change out the throw pillows on my living room  couch, and decorate my dining table, as well.

7. Do you send holiday cards? I send out Christmas cards to my family and friends every year.  I love getting all the photo cards from my friends with families, and even though I’m single, I still like to do it.  I think it’s a sweet tradition.  I usually also send out Valentine’s Day cards to my close friends and my immediate family.
8. Are there any holidays that you celebrate that are traditional in another country, but maybe less well known in the US? Nope.  There are a few Italian saints’ days that my mom’s side of the family used to celebrate when I was younger, like the Feast of San Giuseppe, but we don’t celebrate it anymore.

 

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Sarah’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

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reverb13-blog-button Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb13: Reverb is a way to reflect on the past year and project into the next year with a prompt a day for 31 days.  December is the perfect time to reflect on 2013 and start to create intentions for 2014.

Day 30: Relationships

Relationships | Did you find a new best friend?  Delve deeper into a relationship?  Break up?  Get back together?  Tell us about who you added – or subtracted – from your life.  Why?

My friendships are so important to me, and I try to nurture them as much as possible.  Now that we’re in our 40s and busy with jobs, families, and other obligations, getting together is a lot more challenging.  Still, I try to make sure I get together with each of my friends (and sometimes a few of them at once) for coffee or something at least once a month.  Most of my friends are girls I’ve known since high school, and it’s really fantastic to know people that long.  These are tried-and-true friends.  Ride or die chicks.  Girls who have seen me through everything, and me them. We’ll always be in each other’s lives.  One major goal I have in 2014, which I started at the end of 2013 is to get together with them much more often.  To do things together, not just coffee and convo, but getting out and about and doing fun things, too.

One friendship that has blossomed in 2013 is with Tinkerbell.  She and I really started to hang out at the very beginning of January 2013, and our friendship has grown so much over the course of this year.  We have so much in common, including both getting the VSG. It’s fantastic having someone in real life to discuss all the issues that come up with having had weight loss surgery.  But beyond that, we have similar values, live in the same neighborhood (within 5 minutes driving), and like to do the same things. Tinkerbell is incredible supportive, so generous, and absolutely inspiring.  Whenever I see her post about her long runs on MyFitnessPal, I get motivated to do my walk/run intervals.  We have a great time shopping, getting our hair blown out, and delving into more serious topics, too.  I’m so grateful that we’ve become so close, and consider her one of my best friends.

A few of my most cherished friends are women who have moved far from me, but the distance doesn’t inhibit our friendship because of this great age of technology.  It’s not quite the same as being in the same room, but being able to check in on Facebook share our daily smiles through photos and statuses helps us stay connected.  Plus, with things like Facetime and texting, we can keep up with each other as if we did live in the same city.

And then there are the blogging buddies, pals on MFP, and WLS peeps on YouTube and FB  who have offered me so much support, encouragement, and happiness that they are definitely people I count among my friends, even though we’ve never met.  I am so thankful to have them in my lives.

In terms of romantic relationships, I recently signed up for Match.com, and while I find the entire process terribly slow, it has given me a bit of a boost to know that some of these men find me attractive enough to email, wink at, or contact.  I haven’t dated in years, and now that I’ve put myself back out there, I’m really hoping that 2014 brings me some fun dates (or maybe something even more serious) in the love department.

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