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Hey, y'all. It's Friday and it's hot here in Austin. With school starting on Monday this is the last official weekend of vacation. We met a friend and her kids at Deep Eddy pool this morning as a farewell to our respective summers of traveling and lazy days. After a couple of hours the kids war all hungry and BORED from too much luxuriating (amazing, huh) so we hit a local cafe then went back to her house to bake a pie for back to school night.

My friend and I have cooked to gather for years. It's kind of a thing. She's American by birth but her mother is French and she's one of a handful of people with whom I really like to cook. She knows her stuff and likes to do things right. I didn't expect to be in her kitchen today but the kids were clamoring to play and she said, "Well, I do have to bake this pie..." and that was all I needed to hear. Within 15 minutes of arriving we were in our natural symbiotic rhythm of cooking together almost as if we were husband and wife and do it every night. Our families do Thanksgiving together by tradition but have missed the last two years so this isn't anything new but it has been a while since we cooked together in her kitchen and it was nice to be back in the saddle.

Cooking with a friend is a great time to catch up on a lot of details in one another's lives, the kind of intimate things that naturally come out of such an intimate endeavor. So as we were tasting her pre-made crumb topping, pinching it together into little balls of buttery goodness and popping them into our mouths, my friend is lamenting having made so many desserts of late.

"I have to stop making desserts," she said, pouring blueberries into the pan she had ready for a sheet pie. "And I have to start going back to the gym. I have been really bad this summer and I am tired of feeling fat."

Now, my friend is naturally very petite, so any weight she gains is not apparent to me at all, but the "feeling" part is what matters and I totally get it. "Yes, you really do," I replied snarkily and she hit me hard with a wooden spoon, laughing but genuinely irritated. "Just because you lost all that weight doesn't mean you get to be a shit. You need to get back to the gym as well, asshole." Then we laughed and agreed that summer had been difficult for both of us in that regard.

Up until my knee surgery I had been on a weight loss roll over the course of a few years that had me down over 100 lbs but had struggled with being overweight to one degree or another for most of my life. In adolescence I trimmed out a lot and was pretty fit from about 13 till 22 or so but after that my weight fluctuated pretty widely over time, typically ranging from around 15 or 20 lbs overweight to 30 to 40 lbs overweight. My eating and drinking habits in college were largely responsible for that, particularly the drinking part. That went on for years until at some point in my mid 30's, for a period of about three years, I really packed it on. There are lots of reasons that happened, stress being a significant factor as well as a serious increase in my drinking which, as I have diaried here recently, was out of control.

After I quit drinking I lost a decent amount of weight pretty quickly. That's a lot of calories all that beer and wine and liquor, and the simple act of quitting had a profound impact on my metabolism. It was my first taste of losing real weight in some time and I decided that I would never go back. So I joined the YMCA and committed to a serious routine of exercise. An hour on the elliptical three days a week. Lifting weights on the other two days. Swimming. Getting back into martial arts a bit. I also changed my diet in a significant way, cutting out excess fat and seriously curbing my portions. I began to use the MyFitnessPal app which was a real eye opener. It's a very powerful tool and offers real perspective on what and how we eat.

The first year bore the most significant result. I lost about 50 lbs in 9 months then inevitably hit a plateau and it was no longer that easy. That is a frustrating time when many people give up and I understand why. It's discouraging to see that progress stop and it's tempting to simply tell yourself that you did well and can now take a break. Fortunately I had some good family support and people at the gym to help me see it clearly for what it was. I switched up my routine and just plowed through it. Eventually the plateau ended and my weight loss resumed, continuing on more or less steadily through early this summer when I screwed up my knee.

Now, I recognized when I blew my knee out running in Seattle that it was going to mean a setback. For a good month and a half from injury to healing enough to resume some form of exercise I was effectively sedentary. Adding pain medication to that made things worse. No longer burning more than I was taking in ultimately caught up with me and between then and right now I have gained back about 12 lbs. That's not a huge amount and it's certainly not insurmountable, but it is frustrating nonetheless. I am at a point now that I am able to exercise vigorously again. I have been swimming mostly, and that has kept me from gaining more, but it wasn't until pretty recently that I was able to really work hard without fear of re-injury.

Now that I am back on my schedule the commitment is deeper than ever. I still have a bit to lose beyond the bit I regained and I am determined to barrel on through that until I have reached my ideal weight. My goal for that is September 1, 2015. One year from now.

So, here is to everyone out there achieving their weight loss goals and improving their health. Here is to making those changes we've been putting off, the ones we know we need to do make. Here is to making conscious decisions to improve our own lives and to taking responsibility for our health and happiness. Here is to choosing a better life.

What are your goals for improving health? Any other success stories out there in Kosland? Share your progress in comments and here is wishing everyone a safe and happy weekend.

 - bastrop

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate. Readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.
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