Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Weight loss update, week 12

I've been at this weight-loss thing for 12 weeks now. Wow! Go me! I'm proud of making this commitment to my health and sticking with it this long. Joining Jenny Craig has helped with that significantly, I think: the structured plan, the weekly weigh-ins, and the feedback. I don't love everything about the program, but it has helped immensely to feel like a lot of the effort has been taken out of this for me. I just have to do what I'm told and stay the course. Which is not nothing; it's still taken considerable commitment. But as someone who has never done a structured weight loss program before (I've always been a DIY dieter), well, the difference is quite noticeable. Have I ever stuck with a weight-loss effort this long before? Yes. But I was always really struggling by this point in the game previously (I also lost weight A LOT more slowly when doing the weight loss on my own). Add in the stress of my job plus caring for a 16 month old, and I don't think there is any way this weight loss would have happened without the additional support and ease factor this program has given me. 

Over the last 12 weeks, the weight has come off pretty rapidly. And while yes, it has taken effort and commitment, it hasn't felt like it has taken herculean effort for the most part (a major exception was this weekend when Will decided to bake my favorite kind of cupcakes. Arrrgh! WILL!!! But despite the significant temptation, I did not indulge, and I was proud of myself afterward. The cupcakes are tucked out of sight somewhere in our kitchen, at my request, and I am not going to be seeking them out. I knew that if I had to look at them, it would just be a matter of time until I caved and ate them.)

I went into this week's weigh-in feeling...I guess the best way to describe it is open-minded but unsure. I'm so close to the finish line at this point, who knew what the scale would show? I was diet-adherent this week eating my planned Jenny Craig cuisine and lots of veggies plus yogurt, although I actually underate a couple of days because I was (first) caring for and cleaning up after Magpie who caught a nasty stomach bug (I love you, Magpie, but gross!), which sort of killed my desire to eat, and then (second) a few days later I was dealing with mild symptoms of said GI bug (I have learned that it is hard not to catch someone's virus when they repeatedly vomit all over you). But the sickness seems to have passed for both of us, and I have returned to my regularly scheduled diet. 

So, moment of truth, what did the scale show this week?

Weekly Weight Loss
Starting BMI just after Thanksgiving = 25.2 (officially overweight)
Week 1:     - 4.4 pounds (back into normal BMI territory, less than 25!)
Week 2:     - 0.8 pounds
Week 3:     - 3.6 pounds
Week 4:     out of town so no Jenny food and no weigh-in (Christmas travel madness!)
Week 5:     - 4.4 pounds since last weigh-in
Week 6:     - 2 pounds
Week 7:     - 1.6 pounds
Week 8:     - 1.4 pounds
Week 9:     + 0.4  pounds
Week 10:     -4.2 pounds  
Week 11:     -0.2 pounds  
Week 12:     -3.0 pounds 
Grand Total So Far: 25.2 pounds lost (BMI = 21!)

Yup, I was shocked too - I LOST 3 POUNDS!!! Needless to say, I was thrilled with the weight loss this week. I couldn't believe it! Looking back, I think that probably a good chunk of the weight loss occurred in the prior week but didn't show on the scale for some reason. It just seems more realistic that I lost 1.5 pounds each week than that I lost basically nothing last week and then 3 pounds this week (especially now that I don't have far to go with the weight). I've been doing all the right things all along, so that makes more sense than these strange fluctuations. 

So yay!! Very, very soon I'll have to choose my weight loss stopping point. At the MOST, I might lose another 3ish pounds, but we'll see how it goes and what feels right. Wow! So close now!


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Monday, February 24, 2014

Suzanne sends you a thank you note

Hello kind readers of Mo’s petri dish. I have so many thoughts swirling in my head as I sit to write a thank you note to you all, it’s hard to put them into any logical order. So I will put them in emotional order, which is to say no order at all. Emotions aren’t interested in order.

Your generosity toward a total stranger has restored my faith in humanity. This is not just a cliché statement to be taken lightly. My faith in humanity, and otherworldly things for that matter, has been put through the wringer in the past six years. But just when I need it, something or someone reminds me that this isn’t just a mean old world where we’re all on our own. And in that moment I find the faith of ten mothers plus two, and am able to soldier on.

Sometimes it’s a photo in my email box of Diana, smiling and laughing with her friends at her orphanage. Sometimes it’s a song whose lyrics seem to be written just for the 65 waiting families caught in the Kyrgyzstan adoption moratorium (I have a whole Pandora station of them at this point). Sometimes it’s a total stranger writing, “Let’s get that girl home!” in a note attached to a $25 donation to my travel fund. In your cases, it was a lot of those notes and a lot of those donations. A. Lot.

Your generosity went far beyond your dollars. You were generous with your time, by allowing my story to hi-jack your regularly scheduled programming here on Mo’s blog. You were generous with your empathy, by sharing little glimpses into your own seemingly interminable waits to become mothers. You were generous with your friends, by cross-posting my story on your own blogs and Facebook pages.

I’m humbled by all you have given me. I wish I had more to give in return. I wish I could post a photo here of my precious and beautiful Diana, so you could see how she has refused to let her spirit be crushed by her circumstances. I wish I could post the photo of us hugging and laughing on her 4th birthday, during adoption process #2 in 2012. But We have been told to be careful about publicly sharing recognizable photos of our children at this delicate moment while we are on the brink of being able to re-re-start our adoptions. After all they aren’t our children, yet.

I hope those of you who gave so freely of yourselves will stop by the Kwyltyng To Kyrgyzstan Facebook page from time to time to keep tabs on the progress of this, Diana’s and my third adoption process. The moment I’m allowed to post photos of her I will post them there. Then you will finally be able to “meet” the child your big, wonderful hearts helped unite with her family, at last.   

And Mo, I just. I’m. Seriously. I can’t begin to tell you what a blessing you and your energy are in this world and in my life. Everything good written above, and much more, applies to you. You are a giver and a gift.

One last bit of housekeeping: Some of you show up on my fundrazr page as “anonymous.” But paypal keeps me abreast of who donated what. So you’re all attached to the appropriate number of quilt raffle tickets, and I will have a way of reaching you if you are a lucky winner.

Thank you, bless you, keep strong, and good luck in the raffle!


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Grand total

Thank you all so much for your generosity to help my friend Suzanne raise funds to travel to Kyrgyzstan to finally and hopefully permanently reunite with her waiting child Diana.

All told, you folks raised $815 that we will be matching, for a total contribution of $1,630. Just Wow.

Amazing and incredible.

Suzanne is still fundraising, but the above amount is the amount that Will and I will be matching, with gratitude to all of you for being so generous for someone you don't even know.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


P.S. If you want to check out the progress on all the quilts being made for the raffle, click over to Suzanne's Facebook page, Kwylting for Kyrgyzstan.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

The kindness of strangers

A few days ago, I posted about my friend Suzanne's quilt raffle fundraiser to travel to Kyrgyzstan to finalize her adoption of Diana after waiting in legal limbo for six long years. I was hoping that some of you might be moved to help. I thought that a few small donations would come through, and that that would be amazing since you don't even know Suzanne. I thought a little bit at a time, and all together, we could help to bring Diana home to her waiting family.

I never in a thousand years expected the kind of response that you have shown, and it just teaches me (like I needed to relearn this about you?) that you guys are amazing.

As of today, you have collectively donated $740 to help Diana get home and into her waiting mama's and sister's arms in the United States.

Wow. Just wow.

As promised, Will and I will be matching your donations dollar for dollar. So that means that so far between you guys and us, Suzanne is $1,480 closer to her goal.  And hey, some of you might even win one of the many beautiful handmade quilts being sewn for this project. But of course, winning a quilt is not the point. The point is that there is a lovely girl who needs to get out of that orphanage and into a family, and there is a lovely mama in waiting who never has never given up on her, even when the going got tough (and has stayed tough, for years now).

You are amazing. And I am humbled, ever so humbled. Thank you so so much for reaching out to help a stranger and a little girl.

I promise to keep you updated on Suzanne and Diana as their story progresses.

But in the meantime, thank you. Thank you so very much.


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

International adoption nightmare, with hope finally on the horizon

Little Diana has been waiting six years in an orphanage in Kyrgyzstan. She was matched with my dear friend Suzanne for adoption when she was five weeks old. 

Way back then, in 2008, Suzanne flew to Kyrgyzstan and fell in love with Diana. But then before Suzanne could bring her home, all Kyrgyz international adoptions were put on hold, leaving Diana, and 64 other Kyrgyz orphans, in limbo. Two of the children have since died. And over the years, some of the families have moved on to less arduous adoption situations.

But my friend Suzanne is not a giving-up kind of person. In fact, she is heroic. She has traveled to Bishtek multiple times to see Diana. She has traveled to Washington DC and lobbied U.S. Congress. She produced a heartrending video that was translated into Russian to lobby the Kyrgyz public and legislators to help these waiting children. 

As time has dragged on and Diana has grown from a baby into a toddler into a young girl, Suzanne has taken classes on the issues involved in adopting an older child. She's learned to speak some Russian. Adoptions briefly reopened and a few parents were able to bring their children home in 2012, but they closed again before Diana's case could be brought before the courts and finalized. 

There are 18 children still waiting, growing up in an orphanage instead of with the American families who have come to love them. Diana is one of them. And Suzanne has never given up on her, even as Diana has grown from a newborn baby into a school-age girl.

Diana and Suzanne. Per adoption protocols, Diana's face is not shown.

Now, again, Kyrgyzstan has re-opened their intercountry adoption program. It is Diana's chance to finally come home. My friend is busy redoing her adoption dossier, signing on with yet another adoption agency, and completing all of the documentation necessary.  She is planning to travel to Kyrgyzstan to spend the 6-8 weeks the finalization process will take visiting Diana and helping her adjust to the upcoming transition. She will be traveling with the three-year-old she has adopted domestically while waiting for Diana. 

My friend Suzanne is amazing. But the cost of her six year journey is staggering. She has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars trying to get Diana out of that orphanage and home with her family. She is now working to raise money for her upcoming trip.  And she could really use your help. With the assistance of many friends, she's created a project called Kwylting to Kyrgyzstan to raise money for her and her daughter's travel to Kyrgyzstan. For every $25 donation Suzanne receives, she is giving a raffle ticket to win one of the numerous beautiful quilts that are being handmade for this most meaningful project (see a sampling below). Will and I will be donating ourselves, of course. And Will and I also pledge to match 100% of any donations made through this blog (just say that Mo sent you). All proceeds go to Suzanne's travel costs, and should she exceed her fundraising goal of $10,000, Suzanne plans to donate all remaining funds to the other 17 waiting families.

Please click here to go to Suzanne's fundraising page or click here to see her project's facebook page to view the incredibly beautiful quilts that are in the process of being made.

Can you help Diana come home by donating and spreading the word? After waiting six years in an orphanage, it is so past time for this beautiful young girl to finally join her family.


the beginnings of a beautiful, colorful quilt in Diana's honor

another quilt in progress, this one monochrome

yet another gorgeous creation on the way - this one a baby/toddler quilt 

the beginnings of something beautiful

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Weight loss update, week 11

I went into this week's weigh-in feeling really good about things. I was spot-on with my eating this week. Although I walked less this week (abysmal weather in NYC), I exercised intensely for 40 minutes both Sunday and today. We were out of town over the weekend, so I brought all of my own food and we stayed somewhere we could do our own cooking. Because of that there was no eating out, no calorie splurges, nothing that should have made things go awry. So I felt pretty good about that.

We also went outlet shopping this weekend, something I had been wanting to do once I got close to my goal weight. One of the cool side effects of losing weight is that I've been able to pull things out of the back of the closet that haven't fit in over five years and put them on. It's been pretty fun. But most of my current clothes, undergarments, etc., are hanging on me, and not in such a good way. One of the things I've read about weight maintenance is that it can help to get rid of your clothes from your heavier days and wear clothes that fit the smaller you - another way to demonstrate your commitment to the new weight for the long haul. Given that we might do an IVF FET and, god willing, pregnancy again if we got super lucky, I'm not going to get rid of my bigger clothes, but I do plan to box them up and store them out of state in a relative's basement. (Thank you, relatives who have so much more storage space than we do!) Anyway, we went shopping and I was hoping to find out I was a size smaller in my jeans. I've been wearing a 12...well, lo and behold, I was not a 10, as I expected, nor an 8, as I had secretly hoped. I was a 6! What a crazy thing to find out! Dress size has also gone down, as has my bra size (I knew that - it's obvious, a lot of which is probably attributable to having weaned a few months ago).

So I was feeling good going in for my weekly appointment and weigh-in. 

Funny thing is, despite all this, the scale didn't really agree with how I was feeling. *I* might have been feeling like I had a great week, but according to the numbers, my weight is pretty much at a stalemate. 

Weekly Weight Loss
Starting BMI just after Thanksgiving = 25.2 (officially overweight)
Week 1:     - 4.4 pounds (back into normal BMI territory, less than 25!)
Week 2:     - 0.8 pounds
Week 3:     - 3.6 pounds
Week 4:     out of town so no Jenny food and no weigh-in (Christmas travel madness!)
Week 5:     - 4.4 pounds since last weigh-in
Week 6:     - 2 pounds
Week 7:     - 1.6 pounds
Week 8:     - 1.4 pounds
Week 9:     + 0.4  pounds
Week 10:     -4.2 pounds  
Week 11:     -0.2 pounds  
Grand Total So Far: 22.2 pounds lost (BMI = 21.5)

So the numbers aren't great this week. Despite that, and it surprises me a fair amount to be able to type this, I'm not so down about it. I'm a little disappointed that the scale didn't show my efforts, but eh, not that disappointed. I figure if I just keep doing what I'm doing, it will show up on the scale soon enough. I have 5-6 pounds maximum more to lose (possibly as little as 4). I'm thinking patience is the key in this situation, and losing 0.2 pounds feels way better than gaining 0.4 pounds a couple of weeks ago. I think I'd also expected a lower weight loss this week after the 4.2 pound loss last week. Can't do that every week, especially this late in the game. My body needs to adjust some, I would imagine.

So I'm thrilled to be smaller and be wearing smaller clothes. Yay for that! And I'm coping well with a somewhat disappointing result at the weigh-in. But overall things are good. This week the plan is just to stay the course, do what I know works, and wait for the scale to realize it, too. 


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Friday, February 14, 2014

Parenting, yes. Normal? Not so much

I took a day off work yesterday because Magpie's caregiver couldn't make it to our place in the snowstorm. So my busy busy busy girl and I spent the day playing and in the course of things had a playdate with a neighbor mom and her child who is about the same age as Magpie. Yay for in-building playdates on snow days!

Some of the mom-mom interactions during playtime brought up what is usually dormant for me now but used to be this huge barrier between me and "normal" people. By "normal" I mean, in the case of this mom - she is very nice, but (1) not infertile; (2) much younger than me (because she tried and succeeded to get pregnant and have a baby, not spending years and years in the process like us); (3) she has no loss history.

It's funny. Because for the most part, I think I've fully accepted our history and road to having Magpie. And hey, she's here, right? Which is what counts. So in that way, I wouldn't really change a thing. It might sound weird to say I'm "over it," and while that's an oversimplification, I don't dwell on our journey in any mournful kind of way. If anything, as many of you know because I've written about it repeatedly, I'm just still in this "pinch me, is she really here?" kind of place.

But then something happens. Some small interaction that would be nothing if not for our history.

Sometimes it's someone innocently asking if we're planning to have another child. Sometimes it's someone asking if Magpie is my only child. Or why we started our family so late. Sometimes it's someone complaining about the "annoyance" of being pregnant or trying to engage me in the discussion of "optimal" spacing between children. (Ha ha!)

Yesterday it was a benign comment: "Wow, Magpie doesn't really look like either one of you! Who does she look like?"


So we've actually been told by many others that Magpie is the spitting image of daddy (the majority), and by the minority that she looks like me (usually that she has my eyes). But why do people always have to comment on who she does or doesn't look like, anyway? No idea. But people are obsessed with this.

Because we came so so close to Magpie NOT being related to me genetically, because we were a hairsbreadth away from using an unrelated egg donor and would have done so if the donor hadn't turned up with a rare chromosomal abnormality (and been quite happy with that choice, I might add), I had a different reaction to this comment than I might have, without that context.

So my reaction was a little bit of indignation. What do you mean?! Um, Magpie looks like herself, you know?! And also just a noticing of my potential reaction - that if she had been an egg donor baby, this is the type of question that might have stung a bit, might have poked at that tender place of loss about the genetic relationship that I was unable to share with her.

So there I was, on our playdate, holding both realities. Knowing Magpie IS related to me, but is so very much herself. Knowing that she might not have been related to me genetically, which would have been wonderful too, but different.

And feeling that chasm reveal itself for a minute between me and the "normal" mom. The one without infertility, without a loss history, the one who's never had to consider the idea of having a baby who is not her genetic relation.

And that this is my new reality: to be the incredibly lucky person who got out the other side of a terrible situation and is left immensely grateful. To be the incredible lucky person who gets to parent, but is not quite normal.


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

15 month update

First pigtails

Little Ms. Magpie is 15 months old! (ok...coming up 16 now. As usual I am late.) 

Magpie seems to be enjoying her food (also enjoys hurling it off of the high chair, unfortunately. Hopefully we can make some more progress on that soon). She is doing better with signing "more" or "all done" and we try to respond (reinforce) right away with either one right now.

Some of her favorite foods right now:
string cheese (mozzarella in particular)
cooked spinach
cooked kale and kale chips
beans (pinto, black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans you name it!)
sweet potatoes
peanut butter
cashew butter
chicken soup
brown rice
roasted seaweed (don't ask me - Will gave it to her and she loves it)
Dr. Praeger's Fishies
hot dogs, beef, chicken, pork, eggs (girl likes her protein)

I have to say, I am thrilled that Magpie is eating more. I am even more thrilled that she eats a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Especially thrilled that she likes her leafy greens, since they are such nutrition powerhouses. I'd had some worries about how you get kids to eat healthy stuff? Worrying that I need to feed her stuff I don't think is very nutritious (like mac and cheese) just to get her to eat more. Because then she'll develop a taste for it, and then maybe not like healthy food, and then, oh no! A fair amount of back-of-the-mind obsessing. So far, though, this just hasn't been an issue. She models what she eats after us. And when she gets bored, it will re-perk her interest if I spear whatever food item I'm hoping she'll eat more of with her small fork so she can feed herself with the utensil. We usually get an extra 8-10 bites in that way. So yay! My little scrawny girl is filling out and is getting lots of nutrition. Geez, way more than I ever got, and look how I turned out! Hmm...cancer, infertility...well...I guess good thing she's eating better than I ever did, actually.

Magpie is drinking water out of a cup with a straw and uses a spoon reasonably well and sometimes a fork. She'll concentrate really hard on trying to stab things with the fork. She's not so efficient at it, but persistent! She looovves to feed herself, but sometimes will let you spoon something in if you hold her on your lap (and she really wants it). And she will definitely let you stab with the fork and then hand it to her loaded up with food.

She still drinks one 6 ounce bottle of frozen breast milk a day, and the other bottles are sometimes cow's milk, sometimes formula (We've been using Baby's Only with DHA). I've kept the formula around longer than I might have because I think it is a bit fuller nutritionally than cow's milk, but our most recent order of six cans of powder will be our last, I think. 

Bottles and Pacifiers
I still give Magpie a bottle four times a day. I also think I will soon cut the bottle back to morning and night, just to give her more practice and familiarity with the sippy cup. Also, Magpie still uses a pacifier at naptime and bedtime. She has a lovey, a little Gund lamb she loves (I actually have two of them, in case of some type of laundry disaster or lost lamb issue). Magpie is probably going to be my only child (you never know, but this is my expectation), and these things bring her comfort and joy, so I'm not in an especially big hurry to take any of them away from her. But I also don't want to limit her or keep unnecessary things around so long that they become harder for her to give up later. So Will and I are in discussions about transitioning out the pacifier (I'll be honest - proposed by Will). But we both agree, definitely not until we get back from our Middle East trip this Spring.  

Magpie seems to be understanding more and more in English and Spanish. She says about a thousand things that sound like gibberish, plus a few words: 
-hi (with wave)
-bye bye (with wave)
-dada (he's like a celebrity to her around our house these days, hands down her favorite person, always said with the sign)
-blueberry (I know, crazy long word, right?)
-stay (with hand command, to Moxie and hilariously to her friends as well - bossy girl in the making?)
-sit (to Moxie)

More and more she'll repeat a word that you've just said, which is cool. But I don't count those as words in her vocabulary until she says them on her own.

Singing and Counting
Magpie likes to "count" along with you - objects in a book or bath toys, or toes, or whatever. So she will point and say "da, da, da, da" as she goes along. So first steps toward counting! She also "sings," it used to be this dreadful moaning sound that she would make while you were singing, but now especially with the ABC song, she'll "sing" along, with an almost right melody and the right phrasings of single syllable sounds, if not the right ones yet. She also likes "Old MacDonald" and will just burst out with the refrain "Ee-I-ee-I-O!" She doesn't have it quite right but it's recognizable. 

Magpie is still loving reading. Which makes me a happy mama, and she is becoming more tolerant of books with a storyline. I will do a post on books soon, but some of her current favorites are "Mommies say shhh," "Llama Llama nighty night," "Time for Bed," "Click, Clack, Moo" and some Spanish books that have pics of babies.

Gross motorwise, she is becoming a climber daredevil girl. Climbing on the couch, climbing on the handle for the drawer to the broiler in our stove (Noooo!), climbing on and standing on top off her newish ride-on toy (OMG) and pushing around a little cart she has with various items she likes to put inside. It's a matter of time until we have a major accident with the climbing situation.
Fine motorwise, she stacks blocks and is trying to use utensils, she'll try to hold a pen or marker and "write" with it.

Magpie also loves brushing her tongue when we do tooth brushing (go figure) and has three molars. Wow, how did that happen? And she loves to take our clothes if we leave them on the floor and put them around her neck, like she's putting them on. She will try to put on her socks herself (not successfully of course). She will also put on a winter cap of ours if it's left around and walk around with her eyes covered.

We are lucky on the sleep front (although I am STILL somehow so overtired!). Magpie is sleeping usually 8pm-7am or so. We have reduced naps to one longer nap a day, usually taken in the afternoon 1pm-3pm-ish, sometimes more.

She still wears size 2 diapers, although Will just bought her size 3's for overnight (they're still a bit big though). Someday my little munchkin will really graduate to the next size up. She is wearing size 6-12 pants but is long in the torso and arms for six month clothes, so for shirts and things wears 12 month size. I love love love consignment shopping for her. Can score some really adorable things that I would never pay full price for. I've just learned I have to check the care instructions. I made the mistake a couple of times of getting dry clean only clothes (why would you even make that for a baby?)


Her 15-month check up went well. We added the typhoid fever vaccine to her others, since we will soon travel to the Middle East.  Magpie is now in the 11th%ile for weight (yay, Magpie!), and around 50th%ile for head circ. and length.

How's that for a "brief" update?! Can you tell, I love, love, love this girl?


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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thank you, Jenny Craig PR department!

I came home from work today to find a box from the Jenny Craig public relations department.

Inside the box was a bag.

And inside the bag was all of these Jenny Craig treats - cookies and candy bars, and popcorn, and vitamin bars. Plus, a signed book by Barbara Rolls. A book I've actually thought about buying. Very cool.

Turns out you guys aren't the only ones who read this blog.*

So a big thank you to Jenny Craig - I will definitely enjoy these treats!

That said, I promise to still give you guys my unbiased opinions on the Jenny Craig food and total Jenny Craig experience, swag or no swag. The food has continued to be, across the board, above my expectations. The only major food issue I've had so far was with the chicken corn chowder soup, which somehow unfortunately exploded in my office microwave despite following the instructions. Clearly it needed to be watched more closely.  But foodwise, I have no regrets about this program. It has made the weight loss as easy as it could possibly be. Will said recently, with a tinge of incredulity, "It doesn't seem like you've suffered very much losing the weight." Because yes, I guess weight loss is usually accompanied by hair shirt wearing and incredible feats of willpower. This program, not so much most of the time.Which is pretty darn cool.


*The PR department first reached out to me via email last week and said they wanted to send a small token of thanks. So the arrival of this package was not as stalkerish as it might otherwise have sounded.

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