Low Carb Snack Ideas, A Guest Post by Tara at Media Remedial!

Good morning, friends! Today we have a very special guest post by a friend of mine, Miss Tara from Media Remedial! I met Tara at my first FitBloggin’, and we were both shyly twirling our hair and looking around for a kindred spirit that was heavy on media criticism and also loved cats. (Ok, maybe we weren’t twirling our hair, but it sounds cute, so you know.) We found each other and now I’m proud to have Tara as a friend. Given that I’m a week in to my lower carb eating per my PCOS diet, I asked Tara to share her favorite low-carb snacks. She’s lost a ton of weight on a low carb plan, and after reading her post, I have to say… I’m hungry! Enjoy!

Tara and Alyssa bond over their crazy cat lady status at FitBloggin’ 12.

Hello, Double Chin Diary readers!

My name is Tara, and Alyssa asked me to write a guest post on one of my favorite topics: LOW CARB SNACKING! I’ve been a low carb dieter (sometimes the lifestyle; often the desperation) for awhile now, and snacking is one of the tougher things as a low carber. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I slip into full-on carb-eating if snacks aren’t handy when I need them. Oh, and I want to say in advance: I haven’t been paid in money or goods by any of the companies listed. These are really the things I consume.

Before we get started on the usual suspects, always be ready for hunger emergencies: I keep individual packs of peanuts around the house and in my car trunk. I’m allergic to tree nuts and seeds, but those would work, too–just make sure to eat them occasionally. You don’t want years-old peanuts. I usually have a chocolate chip cookie dough Atkins bar in my purse, too. It is usually smooshed, but it’s good when I need it!

Now, these are some of the snacks I eat on an occasional basis (most still have carbs, so too much of a good snack is simply too much):

  • The aforementioned peanuts
  • CarbMaster yogurts (made by Kroger, but look for similar items in other stores)
  • Kale chips (there’s a huge variety of brands)
  • Flax Snax (eat like a chip or use like a mini cracker or melba toast)
  • Cheese
  • Deli slices of meat (wrap up the cheese and deli meat together–with some dijon mustard)
  • Jerky (many varieties, but check the carbs; too much teriyaki can ruin a great snack)
  • Celery with peanut butter (Simply Jif seems to be on the lower carb end)
  • Cucumbers as chips or crackers–load ‘em up with cheese, spinach dips, veggies, etc.
  • Low carb wraps/tortillas (I like Tumaro’s, but I’ve heard that some people like the Tortilla Factory) with peanut butter and sugar free jelly
  • Dill pickles
  • Sugar Free Oregon Chai with Hood Calorie Countdown (or some lower carb milk product like soy or almond)
  • Keep a bag of spinach around, and it’s easy to toss some spinach and a low carb dressing onto a plate for a quick salad with barely any prep. I also use pre-cut onions, mushrooms, and peppers when I make omelets, and those pre-cut things are easy to toss onto the spinach for that little salad, too!
  • Smoked salmon (you can even buy it wrapped up with cream cheese–check the fish area at your local grocery store
  • Breyers CarbSmart ice cream bars
  • Hard-boiled eggs – eat them plain with a good herb mix, deviled eggs, or the slacker approach: Pick up some ready-made guacamole from Chipotle, the produce section, etc. and put guacamole in the egg white section–the opposite of deviled eggs: Holy Guacamole eggs!
  • CRACKERS. Crackers made entirely of cheese! Pick up Kitchen Table Bakers crackers at Fresh Foods, or visit their website to find out more places where they’re sold (I see them often).

If there’s a sushi section at a grocery store near you, check their case or ask if there’s someone making it fresh: I recently found some spicy tuna rolls with no rice–just tuna and avocado–wrapped up with cucumber slices! It was pricey but for an occasional high-end treat, this can be awesome if you’re a sushi fan.

A snack of cheesy avocados reflects the amount of cooking I usually do, and the results are worth the effort:

  • Split and pit an avocado (I use the most awesome OXO tool), put it on a foil-wrapped tray of some sort, and spray (I use an olive oil cooking spray) or brush olive oil on both halves.
  • Generously sprinkle a great herb mixture over them. I use one I got at a farmer’s market. It contains lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano basil, sage, lemongrass, and sea salt. Look for a good mix like that. But watch the sodium! Most cheese is already fairly salty.
  • Heap the avocado hole with cheese cubes or crumbles (pick a cheese; any cheese). Maybe add some more herbs (or not), and pop them in the oven on broil.
  • Stick around, and in a few minutes, you’ll hear the cheese sizzling. Pull the tray out and take a cheese slice that you can tear to fit and layer it over the whole avocado. More herbs? Why not?
  • And back in the oven they go. Keep an eye and ear on them, but very shortly, after the cheese gets a little melty (but not runny), they’re done!
  • Pull them out, grab a fork and knife, and enjoy. You can cut to the avocado skin, and then you get a magical bite of avocado, herbs, and cheese. SO GOOD.

Something I’ve found helpful: I don’t always keep a log of my meals, which tend to be fairly consistent, but I always keep track of my snacks (and new meals) to see how they affect my weight loss. If I see the weight steady just as I’ve started with a new snack or more of a snack, I cut back.

One more emergency/on the road tip: If I’m desperate for a snack when I’m out and about, I go to McDonald’s. And it ain’t for salad (though that’s a fine meal option). I usually get a double cheeseburger or a McDouble (the former has two slices of cheese; the latter only has one) with no bun and no ketchup. Done. It’s about $1, and they get that special order all the time. Sometimes, I’ll just get a cheeseburger, but if I’m desperate enough for the drive-thru, extra protein/fat is probably a good idea. Usually, they’ll add lettuce to it so you can pick it up, and it comes in a handy bowl. I admit, sometimes I just use the lettuce as my bun. It happens.

Something I don’t recommend: I LOVE sugar free candy, but even if it doesn’t mess with my digestive system (the sweeteners often will) I find that it usually messes with the scale. I do much better, weight loss-wise, if I skip these entirely.

I hope these snack ideas have been helpful. I am such a slacker and don’t REALLY cook, but I admire the folks who do. If you want more snack ideas and recipes, a woman named Vicki seems to run a great Pinterest page. I found it after I wrote this piece, but it already has me drooling over these new ideas to try when I’m feeling a little ambitious. Happy snacking!

You can find me (Tara Scherner de la Fuente) over at Media Remedial. It’s my business website (I’m a freelancer with a few different hats), and if you click on my blogs link, you’ll have access to my Health blog, where I talk about weight loss, body stuff, and fitness. I also tweet: @MediaRemedial

From the Pages of the Commode Commander: Life with Crohn’s Disease

Hi everybody, I hope you had an amazing weekend! Today’s guest post is very special to me because it was written by my best friend, Katelyn. Katelyn is a very dear person in my life because we grew up together, catching crawdads in the Petaluma creeks and spending time in our self-named “Fairy hollow,” a beautiful ravine in a meadow that was unseen by most. She is the funniest person I know, and she has wicked smarts and beauty to boot. She’s tackled her disease head-on and has been an inspiration for me in how to make my new diagnosis work for me rather than torture me. Please take the time to read about her experiences below, because as I’ve said before, you must advocate for your own health. I found this post extremely relevant for anybody trying to better themselves through nutrition, so I think you’ll really like it. Katelyn has just started a blog, too! Show her some comment love and enjoy!

Me and my bestie Katelyn in fake Italy, aka, the Bellagio, in Vegas

Me and my bestie Katelyn in fake Italy, aka, the Bellagio, in Vegas

From the Pages of the Commode Commander: How My Disease Helped Me Become Healthy

I’m constantly analyzing the kinds of foods I eat. Nutrition is one of my top priorities. Exercise is a must. I’m an avid label-reader and ingredient investigator. One might assume I’m a health-enthusiast or just another dieter from these statement. While the first assumption is actually quite true, the second is not: I’m a bit more than that. I have Crohn’s Disease.

I’ve never thought more about food in my life until I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) resulting in swelling and dysfunction of the intestinal tract, a little over a year ago. I ate whatever I wanted, although I suffered constantly as a result. Before my diagnosis, I tried many things to ebb the inflammation and pain in my insides: countless diets, not eating at all (I know this is awful but food = discomfort!), herbs, acupuncture, meditation, you-name-it. Nothing stuck. So eventually I said, “Screw it. If everything hurts me, then I’m eating everything!” Trust me when I say you can’t give into this urge.

We all have good days and bad days. As humans these emotional ebbs and flows are a given. Having an amazing support system -including Alyssa!- has been what’s gotten me through my lowest times. It’s important to be firm and consistent when it comes to getting the results you want; but you also have to remember to show yourself some love. Below are my top, three tips for helping achieve this balance.

#1: Quick fixes don’t last

I know how frustrating it feels to try things again and again with no success. Our culture has the tendency to gravitate toward quick fixes and instant gratification. My chiropractor years ago used a great analogy for this: he said, “Katelyn, you’re only addressing the tip of the iceberg. There’s a whole lotta ice underneath that’s being neglected!” The iceberg analogy is pretty common, so it might appear trite. But the underlying message rings true: if you ignore the root of the problem you may experience a temporary form of relief, but sooner or later you’re going to realize the mass of ice beneath is surfacing to derail you.

It took me countless years to admit that what I was putting into my body was actually exacerbating my condition and inflicting unnecessary damage. There will always be a quick fix, a miracle pill or a new “super” and trendy food force-fed to us by the “experts.” But know this: what you eat matters and the choices you make- what to eat, what to avoid- matter. Make wise choices. Find foods that fill, sustain and nourish you. Creating and sticking to a healthy, balanced diet is the first step to achieving equilibrium, health and weight-wise. Stop eating foods that “hurt” you.

#2:  Avoid food fanaticism

You’ve adopted a healthy diet and you’re feeling empowered. “But I could do even more,” you say to yourself. “I could eat even better, exercise even harder and educate myself even more!” So you start poring over every label, begin meticulously tracking your exercise regime and find yourself -innocently of course- preaching to your friends and family about your new and exciting lifestyle changes. I’m not saying this is all bad, but tread lightly. You don’t want to cross over to the obsessive side. I know first hand how good intentions can quickly escalate into border-line OCD preoccupation.

I discovered a diet, a Chrohn’s version of the macrobiotic diet, that was extremely effective in relieving my symptoms. My initial joy in finding something that worked, but that was healthy and gradual, overpowered my rational side. I thought, “If I’m feeling this good, I bet I could feel &@% amazing!” So I adapted the diet to an extreme. I ended up restricting myself so much that I crashed and burned a few weeks later. In bed, exhausted, I wondered, “What happened?” Grudgingly I had to admit to myself that I had caused my own collapse. Be balanced. Find some wiggle room. No one can be perfect all the time. Stick to what works and have foods to “fall back on.” And please, don’t get preachy. We all know that backfires.

#3: Shut out the “Nay-Sayers”

There are going to be people who try to bring you down. There will be people that “poo poo” your latest diet or exercise routine. There will be some pontificator who thinks he/she knows exactly what will work for your body. There are still people who de-legitimize my disease: they say, “it’s all in your head” or “you need pills; what you eat doesn’t matter.” In the past I’ve wanted to silence these people with a swift kick to the face. Now I don’t let the words get under my skin and move on. Only you- OK and maybe your doctor or nutritionist- knows what’s best for YOU. You know YOU. Diets are not a one-size-fits-all. You have to try things on, test things out. It’s OK to talk shop with friends or explore recommendations, but don’t let this overshadow what your gut (had to include a Crohn’s reference!) is telling you.

KJPugs Breaks Down her Amazing Weight Loss!

Hi Kiddos! Today I figured we’d ring in a New Year’s Eve Party with the blogger life of the party – KJPUGS! KJ and I met many moons ago when we both were planning our weddings, and she has become one of my bestest bloggy buddies ever and she never fails to crack me up. Today she’s talking about her AMAZING weight loss! Read her inspiring story below and show her some comment love and don’t forget to “like” her at http://www.facebook.com/kjpugsblog !

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Hi everyone! I’m Kelly aka kjpugs, and I’m THRILLED to be a guest poster on the Double Chin Diary! Alyssa has become one of my very best blog friends (dare I say… life friends!?) this year and I am so glad. It’s wonderful to have someone to chat with who shares some of your challenges and goals. We’ve had similar journeys and struggles and I am so glad I have her in my life to chat with.

BF4L! (Alyssa's note: I pretty much cackled like a hyena when I saw this. AMAZING!)

BF4L! (Alyssa’s note: I pretty much cackled like a hyena when I saw this. AMAZING!)

If you haven’t visited kjpugs.com before, the things I seem to blog about the most are 1) pugs, if you couldn’t guess 2) nail polish and 3) my weight loss journey. Pugs are the joy of my life – I have three! – and nail polish is basically my favorite hobby and replacement for real life friendships. But my weight loss journey has been going on for a while, and I have lost more than 40 pounds towards my 60 pound loss goal! I was nearing 50 pounds lost, but the holidays have hurt me a bit… along with most normal people, I’ll be putting my butt back in gear in January.

I’ve been on this journey (this time) since September 1, 2011. I signed up for a work weight loss challenge and had to be weighed on the shipping scale at work because I was a last-minute joiner. I had to beg the shipping guys to avert their eyes! I started with Weight Watchers because it had meetings at my office, but after moving from Indiana to Florida this year, I switched to My Fitness Pal. 

Kelly's amazing weight loss!

Kelly’s amazing weight loss!

I have always had a problem with weight, mostly due to not making great food choices. I knew I had (have) two triggers, and they definitely were (are) carbs and sugar. I would binge on them all the time, and wasn’t getting enough nutrients from my diet. And to make matters worse- I could just keep eating, like a bottomless pit. I love quantity! I vividly remembering making Eggo waffles for breakfast at a sleepover in grade school… I made myself one, then two, then all of a sudden I had eaten five. And I could have had more! Sometimes my love for sugary and carby items feels like an addiction.

One of the best things I’ve found to replace my carb love is spaghetti squash. I blogged one recipe here, but I love trying new ways to prepare it. I’ll make it with my homemade carrot marinara sauceand frozen turkey meatballs, or my current favorite- General Tso sauce, green onions, and cashews. It’s very low calorie, but more importantly, it’s SQUASH, not carbs, that’s filling you up.

People who know me also know my obsession – BRUSSELS SPROUTS. I blogged recipes for both sautéed sprouts  and shredded sprouts. There are so many options- lots of people like to roast them also, which is very easy and hands off. It’s not a taste for everyone, but it’s an easy recipe that I can eat lots of volume for not a lot of calories. Another green option might be broccoli, if you’re into that stuff. Find new ways to spice and flavor familiar foods to mix it up. I find myself liking foods I hated as a kid because I’m trying them in a new way.

Eating right hasn’t worked alone though. Quantity is also important. My Fitness Pal allows me to set a daily calorie goal (based on how fast I want to lose, and how often I plan to work out) and track the food I eat. I can see how many calories are in the food I eat, and can track it, aiming to stay at or below my calorie goal. I also connect with friends on MFP – you can see if they’ve hit a milestone, lost weight, or tracked that day (and what they tracked, if they allow you to. I keep mine private.)

Early this fall, I decided to step up my game by attempting to work out. I struggle with being motivated, but lacking the funds. I don’t have the money right now to join a gym. So, I started running! At first, I tried Couch to 5k. And I liked it… for a few weeks. I had to do week 3 twice, and then accidentally did week 4 once. Bad idea. When I got to the point where I had to run 90 seconds straight or longer, I went from feeling confident and enjoying running, to feeling miserable, exhausted, and discouraged. One of my new Orlando friends, Lisa from Buffet Laps suggested I try the Jeff Galloway method with her instead. It’s interval running, where you run and walk in a set interval. I started training with a 1:1 interval and recently ran my first 5k, as well as a 3 mile fun run at SeaWorld.

KJ Pugs is On The Run!

KJ Pugs is On The Run!

I can’t tell you how amazing running makes me feel now. I feel strong, and proud of myself and my body. It’s something I couldn’t do before, and I now wish I had attempted to do it back when I was even more fit! I am planning a few more 5k’s, including the Critz Tybee Run Fest  with my sister in Georgia this February.

The most helpful part of all of this has been my husband B joining my efforts. I lost more than 40 pounds over 15 months. He has lost more than 65 pounds in seven months! His goal is to lose 120 pounds, and he’s more than halfway there. It makes it easier to be careful about what I eat when the person I eat most often with also cares! I got him doing the Jeff Galloway method running too, and hope he’ll join me for a 5k in 2013 too.

Feel free to friend me on MFP (and start hassling me if I am still slacking come 1/1/13!) and check out some of the recipes I shared in this post. If you are trying to lose weight or get fit, find a community for yourself! It’s fun to share tips and “little wins” with one another, and it makes the experience more enjoyable and often, more successful! Also, if you’re not succeeding as a runner, don’t be discouraged. Try a different method like the interval method, and that might work for you, too. My 13-14 minute mile runs are better than not running. And I’m always looking for more interval running buddies in Florida! Anyone want to do some races with me?

Or let’s just take up a collection so I can afford a flight to Cali to finally get to do Zumba and a 5k with Alyssa!

Thanks again for letting me guest post, Alyssa! Hope you are having a wonderful ‘Thaime!’ (har har)

You Better Watch Out…You Better Not Cry… A Guest Post from Amy!

Hi Everybody, Alyssa here! My lovely friend Amy from Amy’s Writes wrote this post about the holiday season stressers – especially when trying to watch your weight. Amy’s been a great friend to me in Los Angeles and I often think she steals thoughts right out of my head! Read her post and chime in!

Fun fact! Amy and I once dressed as twins for Halloween. When we worked at the same company people confused us for eachother all the time! And NO, we don't usually wear sweaters like that.

Fun fact! Amy and I once dressed as twins for Halloween. When we worked at the same company people confused us for eachother all the time! And NO, we don’t usually wear sweaters like that.

I think I’m afraid of the holidays. Over the past view years, I’ve noticed a crippling anxiety that overtakes me during the holiday season, and each year it seems to get a little worse. Now as much as I pride myself on my talent for collecting obscure phobias, even I can see that this is one I’d be better off without. The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, celebration, thankfulness, and family. And while I do feel all of that, each year those warm and fuzzy feelings are overshadowed just a bit more by sheer terror!

What’s there to be afraid of? It’s just a month long orgy of shopping with money you don’t have, eating foods you normally wouldn’t touch, and fighting crowds to go to places where people you don’t know will wish you “happy holidays” through gritted teeth…oh and guilt…don’t forget the guilt! What so bad about that?

Okay I really don’t want to sound like a Grinch, because the truth is that I do love the holidays and I want to continue to love the holidays. Just like most of you, the holidays hold a precious and nostalgic place in my heart. Unfortunately, that place in my heart is already padded with a layer of winter fat from the constant parade of holiday treats being served up by my coworkers on a daily basis. I wish I could just enjoy the seasonal goodies as the goodhearted and generous gestures they are. As a carboholic though, those treats leave me tiptoeing in and out of the office kitchen as though alerting the sweets to my presence will cause them to leap into my mouth and immediately attach themselves to my thighs.

Look at what was lurking in Amy's office. I couldn't resist, either.

Look at what was lurking in Amy’s office. I couldn’t resist, either.

I don’t want to have to avoid all my favorite things. I would love to just indulge carelessly the way many of my friends seem able to. But I can’t. Eating just one chocolate truffle from the office kitchen could easily drive me into a sugar spiral where I spend the rest of the day forcing as much candy-coated-fat down my throat as I can get my hands on. That’s just how my brain works, and until I accept that, I’m probably going to spend many holidays feeling more bitter than sweet.

So the holidays ARE a bit inconvenient. Okay, they can be downright annoying, and they certainly are stressful. There’s never enough money or time to get gifts, and each year the list of people who deserve and expect gifts seems to double. The food is everywhere, and putting on a nice cuddly layer of winter fat is pretty much unavoidable. But I have to admit, the holidays are still pretty great. Okay, I said it. They’re great. I guess I still do love this time of year more than I hate it, and if anything, the holidays are a chance for me to show a little love and acceptance to the one person I always leave in the cold…myself. I can’t be perfect over the holidays, but if I just stop torturing myself for a minute, I’m pretty sure I can be happy. After all, a little chubby, a little poor, stressed out and totally neurotic, I still have a whole lot to celebrate!

Monique’s Yummy Nacho Casserole

Hi everybody, this is the first of several guest posts you’ll see in the next two weeks while I’m trekking around Thailand. Monique is a dear friend of mine and we met two years ago when I hired her to be a part of my social media team at my last job. She’s always got something cute and clever to say and tons of funny stories about her life, so check out her blog and don’t forget to “like” her at http://www.facebook.com/moniqueisblog.

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Hi there Double Chin Diary readers! This is Monique from moniqueis.com with a delicious recipe to share with you. My fiancé and I pull a lot of our recipes from allrecipes.com and we’re always looking for something quick and easy to make since we both have busy schedules. A casserole is always an easy choice for us and we absolutely enjoyed the Nacho Casserole recipe we found. It tasted so good but it’s really not the healthiest thing, the recipe calls for salad dressing and uses Miracle Whip as an example—Whaa!? So I adapted the recipe to be a little healthier and according to My Fitness Pal my adjustments lobbed off 141 calories per serving, not bad!

It’s hard to imagine tortilla chips ever being healthy but there are some better for you options out there, like Guiltless Gourmet No Salt Added Tortilla Chips or even one of the new Pop Chips Tortilla Chips selections.

Original Recipe: 497 Calories per serving

Improved Recipe: 356 Calories per serving

Each version makes 6 servings and takes about 35 to complete.

The red side shows the original ingredients and the green shows my improved healthier ingredients.

The red side shows the original ingredients and the green shows my improved healthier ingredients.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place ground turkey in a large skillet over medium-high heat with onion, garlic and green bell pepper. Cook, stirring to crumble, until evenly browned. Drain grease. Remove from the heat, and stir the salsa, corn and chili powder into the turkey mixture. In a 2 quart casserole dish, layer the ground turkey mixture, tortilla chips and cheese twice, ending with cheese on top.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered in the preheated oven, until cheese is melted and dish is thoroughly heated.

 

Enjoy!

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April’s Two Month Check In

Well, dear readers, I wish I could write a joyous post like my sister did yesterday revealing her AMAZING 5 pound weight drop within a week but no… I must write a post of the opposite side of the spectrum:  failure.

I was doing pretty good for the first six weeks; I lost about six pounds.  Then the dark shadow of November came over me bearing down grief from the death of my cousin Josh, too much school, and a horrible neck injury that left me messed up and in pain for two weeks.

Whatever weight-loss wagon I was on, my fellow riders clearly booted me off for sitting on the couch and watching too many reruns of “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” instead of attempting to go for a walk or eating something that didn’t come from a box.

But whatever, like my last post regarding my battle with math, my failure of the past month will only make me try harder.

I decided to take this past Sunday as a day to get in some fun exercise by walking for miles around the marina region of San Francisco.  I practiced my photography and trekked about four miles up and down the gorgeous water front overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.  I tried to keep my pace up enough to get my heart rate going and every time a neon spandex wearing jogger trotted past me, I only gained more motivation to boost up the speed.  I should have kept track of the amount of damn joggers I saw within my two hours of being at the marina.  Probably 100.  Of course, it was 65 degrees and totally clear in San Francisco that day, which is pretty rare for a December afternoon so I can’t really question.  Plus one day I’ll be a “damn jogger” rather than the “damn girl taking up the sidewalk with her walking”.  Oh, how I look forward to getting to the point when I look forward to running instead of dreading it.   I was there once, and it wasn’t really THAT long ago.   I just need to get there again.

Getting exercise by the golden gate bridge!

In January I will be joining up with some other friends from around my area in a weight-loss competition.   The contest goes for three months and has a $50 “buy-in” so the ending pot could end up being quite the pretty penny for whoever wins.   If I were to actually get serious about my weight loss, who knows!?  Maybe I could win!

I’m still enrolled in my Pilates and yoga classes for Mondays and Wednesdays.  I  also could utilize my free three-month membership to 24-hour Fitness and just get obsessive like my amazing homegirl Melody did and make the weight fall right off me.  With the combination of exercise and eating my “clean slow carb” diet,  I know that whether I win the contest or not, I could still finally get out of the 200′s and have a 1 for my single digit weight for the first time since I was 16.

I look forward to my future.  ;)

How about you guys?  Have you or would you ever do a weight loss competition?

Peace and monkeys,