Posts Tagged With: diary

Releasing My Inner Swan

swanI received a most beautiful gift in the mail, a pewter swan. The following note was attached, “A gift from one who lives in Swanton, home of the Swanton Swans. Also symbolic of my favorite story and how the ‘ugly duckling’ became a ‘very fine swan indeed!’ As you have done!”

Step back for a second and flash back over the past few years of my life. In January, 2011, if you’ve been following the blog (and if you haven’t…start at the beginning!!), was when I started my weight loss journey into Onederland. By July 2012, after a rocky bit with my inner ear conundrum, I made it to goal.  Honestly, I thought reaching goal and getting my weight down would be a “cure-all” for so many things in my life.

I was confused when it wasn’t.

While a lot of people were very supportive, many people close to me were not.
I’ve come to bristle at the thought of dating anymore. Guys that knew me when I was bigger, complain that I’m “too skinny” and look too different. I’ve been called “boney” and “wasting away”. I’m not. I’m SO not.  Guys that have only known me since I’ve reached goal couldn’t understand the disdain for the way they joked about “fat chicks”. When I explained my situation, they’d say, “But that’s not you, so it’s ok to say that.” No… it’s not. I honestly thought dating would be easier. It’s not, for me.

I’ve had to pull back from the center of friends I’ve always had. There’s nobody in that group that can relate to what has happened to me physically, mentally, emotionally. They think the journey is “done now” and I can “eat normal”. It’s not done and their normal is not my normal.

So I had to dig deeper and tackle those core issues that needed fixing. Like needing other people’s approval. Like needing to be part of a “couple” – you know, being in a relationship and using it like a trophy or a measure of “making it”. Doesn’t matter if it’s bad or good. Well, I’d rather be alone than be with someone that doesn’t treat me with respect or love me for who I fully am. Let’s not forget bad self-esteem. Or needing to be liked by everyone. Being angry at others for flaws in my own self. I did journaling. Lots of journalling, meditating, walking while thinking, talking it out. Lots of positive self talk. Looking in the mirror every morning and saying, “Good morning, Beautiful.” And looking in the mirror at night and saying, “Good Night, Sweetie, pleasant dreams, you ROCK!”   I’m not perfectly fixed, but I’m perfectly flawed like Otep would sing. Cracks in antiques give them character, right? I don’t think we’re ever totally fixed, but I’m working on it and it’s made it easier!

On the up-side, I have found many friends online and in person through the Kim Bensen Weight Loss Center and through this blog.  I have found many kindred souls that have been through the same experiences, the same heartaches, the same victories.

And I have found my voice and my confidence. Albeit, not a roar, but it’s a flame getting bigger all the time. I’m not afraid to ask for what I need, to stand up for myself, to speak up when confronted. But I don’t need the drama of those around me. I’m recognizing the dynamic and the sickening soup that I’ve allowed myself to be cooking in because I felt an obligation imposed on me out of “loyalty”. There are times when we have to look at those close to us and recognize their relationship as being toxic and unhealthy.  So we have to find the courage to pull ourselves up out of the quicksand and climb hard into higher ground. For our health.

I was presented with two career opportunities that required my courage, strength and dedication. But it requires me to say good bye to so much that has been familiar and my safety net. It requires me to relocate into another state. Several states away.  It requires me to rely on a network of newfound friends that are incredibly supportive. It requires me to enter a very corporate job market at “almost 50”, as my Dad pointed out. It requires me to learn more about my profession using my high school education and experience through doing. I never went to college and was mocked by people throughout my life for not going. I’ve learned a LOT by doing it.  It requires me to take a leap of Faith and cannonball into the waters of Life.

A few years back, I don’t think I could have CONSIDERED doing such a thing. It would give me an anxiety attack. I would make excuses about why I could not do it. I would rationalize that it would be impossible to do this.  But after losing 150 pounds, it made me feel like I could DO ANYTHING.

But not everyone around me feels the same enthusiasm as I do. They point out my age. They point out the hard work. They point out that there are people who need me where I am now. They call me selfish. They call me foolish and crazy. And only a couple asked me, “Would it make you happy?” I look into my daughter’s eyes and she is excited and says that I am a role model for her and girls everywhere no matter the size. Tall order.

My story has really started to have that fairy tale kind of feeling. I thought it was Cinderella, but the only time I’m losing my shoe after midnight is when I’m just too tired from pulling too many hours awake, there’s no Prince Charming, no pumpkin car. It really is the story of the Ugly Duckling who became a swan and finally found where she belonged after all.  I even looked up the story by Hans Christian Andersen and I cried as I read it. It was way too bittersweet and familiar to me.

Sometimes where you’re born isn’t where you end up.
Sometimes, those closest to you can hurt you the most.
Sometimes not fitting in is a blessing in disguise, it makes leaving easier.
Sometimes break ups are the best thing that can happen to you.
Sometimes you need to break away from what you’re told to do and find what you WANT to do.
Sometimes the ones that claim to need you the most are avoiding doing for themselves.
Sometimes those late blooms in life are the most spectacular!
Sometimes you have to find the courage and strength to do something big (like get to goal), to show you just how powerful you really are.

And sometimes you have wonderful friends, like my Susan, to remind you of a child’s story that helps you cannonball into the next part of your life so much easier.

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Categories: Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When A Tree Falls It Makes A Sound Point

I am a very empathetic person and this post has been a long time coming, I just needed the right words and the right analogy to put it into perspective. And baby, I’m FULL of them!  In fact, I’ve been up since 3 am, unable to sleep because the words have been flooding my head and screaming for me to write this blogpost. So here I am with my first, of many I’m sure, cups of coffee today banging out this first draft at 4 am.

Like I said, I’m very empathetic. Especially since the events of my life since 2006, I feel very deeply about people, life and situations around me. I have been known to put my own life on hold because people will call, pop in, text or even Facebook status update about their current drama and if I feel I can help someone I will. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can really affect our lives being shuffled around by the Drama Club out there. It can distract us, it pulls us away from our own planned out events, it can mess us up if we let it.

Sometimes it can’t be avoided. For instance, a couple nights ago, I had an unexpected guest for dinner. Half of one of my trees in the front of the property decided to come down and crash through my living room window right where the computer sits. Luckily, Katie and I were getting ready to eat dinner in the dining room as glass flew across the living room. Neighbors were screaming and I went outside. Luckily nobody was hurt and the only casualities were my storm window, a few more panes of glass, a hanging planter and my really nice bird bath I just bought myself for Mother’s Day. I surveyed the damage and my neighbor was freaking out. I said, “Oh it could have been so much worse.” She said, “Praise the Lord nobody was hurt, you’re so CALM.” I said, “Well, nobody has to go to the hospital, I just have to clean up some glass and grab a chain saw.” She said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re not upset.”

Well, truth be told, INSIDE I was very upset. This certainly wasn’t what I had planned for the night and I knew this was going to affect my whole week. I looked up at the sky and saw dark storm clouds coming in over the field across the street and felt the air coming in. Rain was coming and coming fast. No time to “dawdle” as my Grandfather used to say. And no matter what I was feeling INSIDE, it wasn’t fixing anything on the OUTSIDE.  I grabbed a trash bag, a broom, some duct tape (because duct tape fixes EVERYTHING) and gloves. I told Katie to continue eating dinner. After protecting myself with the gloves, I taped up the window to avoid rain pouring into the living room. I swept up the shards of glass outside and got as much trash into the trashbag. I knew I had a spare storm window in the basement and went looking for it.  I started getting frustrated but kept my head and found it. It’s one of those things, you don’t think you’re ever going to need right away and other “stuff” gets piled in front of it and you almost forget where you originally had it. I brought that up out of the basement and was fitting it into the window.  I could feel the cool strong breeze bringing those storm clouds even closer. One of the neighbors came over as I was trying to figure out how to install the storm window. She wasn’t looking to help me,  she just stood there and saying, “Oh my God, why do you think that happened? Oh that really freaked me out. I can’t believe you’re so calm. So how what are you going to do? Do you think you should call your Dad? (My dad is my landlord and lives exactly 2 doors up) Do you think it damaged anything? Do you think you know how to put that window in? Do you think, do ya think –”

Before she could inject anymore I calmly looked at her and said in a very cool and matter of fact voice, “I can’t think a bloody thing with you constantly talking. If you don’t mind, I need to put this window in before the rain gets here. So unless YOU know how to do it, I’ve got work to do.” She looked at me as though I slapped her. She told me I was rude. She was “just trying to help” and she stomped next door to go scream at her kids. I shook my head and after she was “out of my aura” so to speak, I could think a little clearer and I got the window put in as the first huge raindrops came down. I ran up the street, (yes, literally ran because NOW I can), and told my Dad about the tree.  He came down to take a look and he was pretty calm. I told him that I needed to borrow the chainsaw within the next day when it wasn’t raining to saw up the tree. I told him that I put in the storm window and taped up the paned window and that I’d repair the panes within the next day. He said, “Ok, it could have been a WHOLE lot worse, you got it under control. We’ll take care of it.”

So last night, I enlisted the help of my adult son to man the chainsaw. We sawed up the tree, stacked the wood to use for summer campfires and cleaned up the rest of mess. My birdbath was semi-repairable since it was made from metal and the tree felt right on top of it, it could be bent back to somewhat normal looking. A few of my steel shepherd’s hooks for plants were mangled and we bent those back and I repotted the couple of hanging plants that went flying. A couple times during the clean-up, I found myself sighing and thinking, “It’s always something going on. Why can’t I get ahead? Why can’t I have some normalcy? Why is there always some kind of drama going on?”

But this IS normalcy. There IS always something going on. There IS always drama going on.

It reminded me so much of our weight loss journey and life in general. It was such a Zen moment with so many lessons.

First, Life happens. Just because we plan out our day or our week, don’t think that the rest of the world is going to stop and say, “Well, let’s accommodate YOU.” We need to be prepared to learn to adapt to our ever-changing days without losing our cool. Things will pop up and shake up our snow globe existence.  We need to be like a leaf on the wave and roll with the changes instead of freaking out over every little thing.

Second, Keep Calm and Carry On. Nothing good comes of anger and freaking out. You can’t think if you’re frazzled and freaking out.

Third, don’t be afraid of pulling away from certain people or situations that distract you from your focus. I had to tell the neighbor, very politely, that I really had to focus on my task. Because SHE was freaking out, she felt I should be too. When I didn’t share in her level of distraction and non-focus, she labeled me as rude. Instead of falling into  the “Oh geez, what does someone ELSE think about me” and approval vs. non-approval issues, I stayed true to my task. It reminds me all the people around us… especially social media such as Facebook. How many of us are so sucked into Facebook pages, groups and peoples’ walls in social media? This is how some of us are LIVING our lives! We use Facebook as our personal billboards and diaries and use it to keep tabs on everyone else in our lives. We use it to vent, cry and complain about…everything. How many times have I seen people, starting on Sunday night, start complaining that Monday is almost here. By Tuesday, they’re already complaining that Friday isn’t coming quick enough. They’re rushing through their weeks without moving from the computer screen! There’s so much negativity and co-dependency feeding through social media like Facebook that I have to step back from it at times. I have to go outside and feel the sun, the dirt of the garden, smell the plants and forget that the computer exists. It can steal the life and living out of you, if you get too sucked up in it. With weight loss, I have to avoid letting the negative people and situations pull me away from my focus and task at hand. If I sit and listen too much to the naysayers and worry-warts, it will affect me. So I have to pull back, re-group and Keep Calm and Stay OP (on program). It doesn’t mean I DON’T CARE about other people, it means that I have to have the strength to stay true to my own task at hand. People often confuse us. Sometimes they guilt us, shun us, use our own weapons of self-esteem against us, to get what they want or need from us at the time. They will call us rude, they will get angry and they will probably get over it. I can’t consume my thoughts with other peoples’ approval or disapproval of me. I should only be concerned with MY own opinion of me.  My empathy has spread me way too thin at times and it’s something I have to work on myself. Because I’M important TOO! Nobody has my back, except me.

Fourth, it’s all about CHOICES. Now…I could CHOOSE to be upset and say “It’s always SOMETHING.” I didn’t get to eat my dinner right away the night the tree fell and I could CHOOSE to get so wound up that I could eat something I didn’t plan. I didn’t. I just ate a little later and it was the dinner I had planned. I could CHOOSE to scream, holler and get my blood pressure all undone. But why? Why lose control? Things are always going to happen. Things are always going to interrupt our life and our plans. Keep calm and carry on. I don’t always choose wisely, I’m not perfect. But I learn from those times so that I can choose wisely in the future. We live, we learn, we evolve.

Fifth, sometimes you have to ask for help and be prepared to hear no. Not everyone is just lining up and waiting to help you, Princess. And it doesn’t mean they don’t care, it means they are busy too. I’m not a lumberjack so I wasn’t just dying to use a chainsaw. The first person I asked was busy, so I asked my son to help me. HELP me, not do it all. I was out there too cleaning up my mess. You can’t confuse HELP with someone doing it ALL for you. You have to want to HELP yourself.

Sixth, clean up, go forward. Get out the gloves and the trashbags and start digging in. Jump in and start immediate DAMAGE CONTROL. No, it’s not what you maybe WANT to do right now¸but it’s what you HAVE to do right now. Repair what you can. It may not be ‘just like before’ but you go forward. My metal birdbath and plant hooks are bent and will always show some damage. It makes them unique. They are now different from the other ones made to look like it. It’s called CHARACTER. Mistakes build character. I’m not some mass produced perfect little product, I’m a human being with flaws and they’ve created the unique individual I am. I show some wear and tear from my many years of dieting, my many years of trial and error. And it’s made me a less perfect but WISER person. We all fail at times, we all make mistakes. We fix ourselves and go forward.

Seventh: Turn the negativity into something productive. That fallen tree is now a neatly stacked pile of wood for our summer campfires. All that movement was an unplanned workout. Bending over, picking up, sweeping, stacking, twisting, lifting. Nope, it wasn’t the gym, but it was a workout that didn’t even need me to spend gas to drive to the gym or use their machines… it was the REAL WORLD workout.

Eighth: Prepare for the future. I looked at my trees near the house and called my “tree guy” to see if there’s some pruning I need to do to prevent this from happening in the future. I know I see some dead branches and it’s only a matter of time until they fall and do some damage. If you are having problems with your weight loss program, if you have some dead dangling limbs of doubt, feel free to talk to someone in your program to see the areas you are weakened and need help. Prune back the weak areas and reinforce the strong ones! I know through, if I need help, I can call and talk to Kim or anybody there and get advice and what I need to get rid of the deadwood. Negative thoughts from other people create dead little limbs you end up tripping over in your journey.  Find someone that is supportive and clear your path in the journey!

Ninth: Cancel the membership with the Drama Club. I have a couple people in my life that remind me of Chicken Little. Everything’s a drama. Everything’s a problem. The sky is ALWAYS falling around them and the wolf is always knocking on their door. It gets old. Someone once said to me, “Pam, you always have such drama going on.” Yeah, I do. But it doesn’t mean I have to be dramatic. I don’t have to let it taint me. I pull back and concentrate on my kids, my family, my house, my writing. I don’t have to get sucked up in the B.S. It’s draining, zaps your life and makes the flower of your life faded and wilted. Freshen up your flower! We ALL have things going on. Nobody’s drama or problems are any more important than anyone else’s. It’s how we DEAL with them that makes the difference. You can choose (see, there’s that word again) to let it kick your butt or you can get out the gloves and trashbags and deal with it.

Tenth: Spares & Back up Plans are a must. Like my spare storm window and supplies on hand for emergency, you have resources like online websites for recipes, books, smart phone apps. These are our everyday and emergency resources.  Don’t allow them to get dusty on the bookshelves or get stuff piled in front of them. You don’t want to have to dig around for these, you need these handy QUICK sometimes! If you’re on maintenance, you have to recognize that “breaking point” feeling that the clothes are getting tight or that number on the scale that makes you wake up and smell the coffee and get active to DO SOMETHING about it. Journal, write yourself notes, anything you need to do to communicate with yourself and keep yourself positive in your journey. Keep the drama out of it, don’t blame anyone else and get in there and clean up your mess!

Eleventh: Smile. Sure you can go around wearing the sackcloth and ashes over every little bad thing in your life but what does it really accomplish? Nothing except drive people away and make you appear miserable. You can bitch and moan about your diet plan and what you can’t eat anymore…but who really cares? People will get sick of hearing it. Look at all the great new recipes you can have! New and improved recipes are all over the Internet, magazines and television EVERY DAY. This is something we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives. So stick with a great attitude and it will help you get through the bad times so much easier.

Keep Calm, Carry On & Stay On Program

Categories: Anger, Binge Eating, Cooking, Dealing with Sabotage, Exercise, Psychological, Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Craft Project! My Daily Diet Binder

For those that follow the Blog and are also members of the Kim Bensen site, these are the requested instructions for turning my Xchanges booklet into my daily workbook that will stand up to daily use and abuse. I keep getting asked about how I made mine and what it looks like. Even if you don’t use this system, it’s a great little craft project that maybe you can use in some way to make your weight loss journey a little easier to use each day. If you have a program you follow with a booklet or info you can copy from a book for the pages, you can use that.

First off, let me just say this is what I am using. Yes, there are substitutes and possibly lower priced alternatives.  This is my current set up. Use this as a guide and not as a “this is the best of the best” list…. Know what I mean? I’m not posting prices because office supply prices change constantly. This is just a reference on what to use. You can click on the links to get pricing from Staples and then check it against the office supply store you want to use.

Secondly and very importantly… I CAN NOT send you a “copy” of the Xchanges booklet. I’m getting email requests for that and you will have to contact Kim Bensen at  The current price for the booklet is $5.50, this is an updated version with the new Xtreme Xchanges program which is great. I have been very careful with my pics here that I am not infringing on copyrighted info and I would like to stay out of legal trouble…plus Kim is my friend! But I cannot give out freebies!!!

Ok… let’s get crafting!

That Was Easy!

Here’s very simple instructions on how I turned my Xchanges booklet from into my daily workbook for weight loss. Because I have a Staples store about 5 minutes away, all my supplies and links here are for Staples (that was easy!… yes those people). You can either buy at Staples in person or online or use comparable supplies from another store.

You will need:

  • Small daily tablet for writing menus (I got this particular one in my local thrift shop), or daily worksheets downloadable at
  • 1 gusseted binder closing envelope – possibly a discontinued item at Staples
    I’m sure you can find these in mini form for 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 binders at other stores, if not, it’s not a necessity, you can use the binder pockets as well.

After getting all my supplies, I took the staples out of my Xchanges booklet and took a scissors and cut down the “spine” of the booklet to make 15 double sided pages.

I slipped the front cover into the front of my pink mini binder. I have the pink one, but yes, these come in all kinds of colors. The remaining pages of the booklet I put into the sheet protectors and put into the mini binder in order. You’ll find with 2 packs of sheet protectors you have plenty of extra… you will need them! You’ll see as you go, I use them in the back for recipes and info…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

From the Kim Bensen website, I downloaded the 1100 calorie Xchange worksheet paper and printed a copy to slip inside the front cover of my binder so that I have a daily reference of my personal Xchanges for making menus. (Your calorie requirement will probably be different, contact Kim Bensen for details if you want to follow Xchanges)

In my binder, I put a gold binder pocket in the beginning to throw in any coupons for foods that I want to use on my program. You can also use it for scraps of notes, etc. Another thing I like to do is cut out motivational phrases from newspaper headlines, magazine covers, etc.
Or you can cut out pictures from catalogs of “wish list” pieces of clothing you want to fit in…anything you want to put in there!! I believe by thinking about something and seeing it everyday, it can help you manifest it. So manifest positive change in your life!!

In the binder, AFTER the Xchanges booklet, I have a recipe section. Any recipes that I print out from Kim’s site (or other sites such as,,, etc) I put into their own protective sheet and put them in the back. You can organize them anyway you want. That way I know right where the Crustless Pumpkin Pie, Midnight Brownies, New Potato Salad or any other of my favorites are at my fingertips and I don’t have to be in front of my computer. PLUS, it keeps the pages clean and nice when I’m slopping around in the kitchen cooking! Just wipe and go!

I also have a gusseted binder pocket. I got mine at Staples, but I can’t find it online, it may be a discontinued item. That’s where I keep my tablet that I write out my daily menus. You can use a tablet, or print out the pages from Kim’s site, which ever YOU find easier. I found a skinny narrow tablet from the thrift store (the sticker for a buck fifty is still on there haha)

As you can see, in my tablet, I weigh daily, so I put the weight at the top of that morning’s page and write out my day before I eat it. (or as I’m eating my planned breakfast) Sometimes the pages are neat, sometimes they’re messy but the important thing is that they are written in EVERY DAY!

So that’s my Tale of the Binder, and it’s pretty easy and yes, it costs a few bucks to get the supplies. BUT, on the up side – my booklet and info won’t get dog-earred and wear out, it’s all in one spot when I want to find my info and make my daily menus. It’s small enough that I can stash it in a tote when I want to travel or throw it in a large purse to take with me somewhere (people do ask me to bring it to their house to show them). It’s always easier to follow a program, when you’ve got all your info right in front of you.

Again… I CANNOT send you a copy of the Xchanges booklet itself, you MUST contact Kim Bensen at and hit the “contact us” link! Or email  and please tell them Pam Kaelin sent ya!

P.S. I am in no way compensated or endorsed by Staples office supplies, Kim Bensen Enterprises for mentions in this blog.

As of today, I am now 128 lbs lighter than January 2011, 116 lbs of this has come off due to Kim Bensen’s Xchanges… AND IT’S STILL GOING… this week alone I lost 4 lbs due to changing to her Xtreme Xchanges program… check it out!

and P. S. …. I know the pics aren’t the best, I had to take them with my phone because I couldn’t find my digital camera this weekend! Just click on them to make them bigger, but you get the idea!

Categories: Cooking, Recipe, Support, Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hello world, you can call me Alice.

And I’m on my way to ONE-derland. This is my journey to a number on the scale that starts with a “1”. That’s right, a 1.
Not a 2 or  a 3.
2 is too much.
3 is where I started and will not do.
(This is sounding a bit like Monty Python’s Holy Grail to me….)

Weight loss is not just about losing weight. It’s not just about “moving more and eating less” It’s sometimes about looking in the mirror and seeing all the flaws. It’s sometimes about feeling like you’re still over 300 pounds when you’re not. It’s sometimes about hearing the demons in your head that have been placed there since you were a child. It’s about the battle you wage with society as well as yourself. It’s sometimes about being your own cheerleader when nobody is supportive. It’s sometimes about having to explain to your kids nutrition when their friends or your own family is feeding them junk.

… yes, AND it’s so much more…

My personal motto is a Latin phrase “sine metu” which means “go forward without fear”.

That motto is tattooed on my wrist so that when I get scared, insecure and frightened, I can look down and do just that, go forward. Let’s go forward together.

One thing I will “warn” you.. I’m a PG-13 type of personality (sometimes R). I’m a tough cookie and call it like I see it due to my life of hard knocks and harder falls…but I keep getting back up. So if you don’t mind a little profanity interlaced with some serious advice and views from my side, we’ll get along just fine.
Keep tuned, keep checking back… it’s going to be one Hell of a ride into the Wonderland of ONE-derland. I’m not there yet, but I’m taking ya all with me!

Categories: Emotional, Growing Up Fat, Psychological, Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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