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Day One is in the books.
Day One is in the books.

Does this T-shirt make me look fat?

You know you are fat (or fatter than you used to be) when your t-shirts don't fit you anymore. Especially when those T-shirts are the body conscious, paper-thin, burnout variety that show every lump and bump.

You know you've gained a couple pounds when your stretch leggings are so snug you are spilling over the top just like the term "muffin top" suggests.

You know something's tipped the scales when your wedding ring is too tight and your once-taut jaw line now slacks with the shadow of a double.

"Fat" means different things to different people. This is not a blog meant to elicit criticism, compliments or beg for attention. This is about feeling comfortable in your own skin and doing something about it when you don't. I've learned both professionally and personally that "comfortable" means different things for different people.

I never judge anyone else's physical or emotional view of themselves or outward manifestation of these ideals. I hold myself to a personal standard that works for me and makes me happy. I never hold anyone else to what I feel is best for me. People look, feel and function at their most beautiful, attractive and healthiest with different outward appearances and inward confidences that make them unique, different and wonderful.

To me and for me, "fat" means a shift in body mass percentage, causing a huge difference in the way my body looks and feels in clothing. I currently weigh in at 128 pounds and about 24 percent body fat – about 10 pounds heavier and six percent more body fat than I personally am "comfortable" at.

A wonky thyroid is partially to blame (I had very foolishly experimented with swapping out my prescription meds for my genetic hypothyroidism with a "natural" supplement), but it was my work schedule March through August that caused a change in my lifestyle that included losing my "me" time for fitness and the discipline over the food I ate.

And let me tell you. I enjoyed it. A lot. But, only for a little while. Soon, I …

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Is firing off that witty tweet really worth the pain?
Is firing off that witty tweet really worth the pain?

I'm too texty for my thumbs

I'm sitting at my kitchen table in front of two side by side legal pads, one marked "pros" and one marked "cons," deciding whether continuing to use my cell phone for texting, emailing, web surfing and social media is an unavoidable reality or an only- in-desperate-need option.

This surprisingly, has nothing to do with the nasty waves emitted into the cranium by proximity or the risk of cell phone particles migrating through pants pockets into reproductive organs. It's about the health of my digits – the ones attached to my person, not numerated on the dial pad.

Sure, it's super convenient to hold the epicenter of communication in the palm of your hand, but what happens when the fingers that attach to the fleshy cradle start communicating back to you via nerve pathways?

My thumbs are screaming, "Stop texting already!" "Do you really have to scroll down 20 pages of tweets?" "Can't you wait until you are in front of your laptop to respond to that email?" "Like it later, lady!" "Was Instagram really necessary?" (Absolutely. This is my new favorite platform.)

I woke up a few months ago with severe achiness in both of my thumbs, but more pronounced on the left side. It centered in the "knuckle," but traveled down the belly of my palm and into my wrist. After three months of denial, I finally to put two and two (thumbs) together as pain shot through the opposable digits as I entered a (fabulously witty) tweet on my Motorola XPRT keypad.

I believe the onset was a result of using my phone more while traveling on the road, as I had limited access to my laptop. I was sending extensive emails, having detailed text chats and just wasting time Googling on the device at a higher volume.

What's worse is that I think my particular phone and keyboard may have exacerbated the condition, due to its small width and tiny keys. Even more atrocious is that I insisted on having a keyboard of this type because I was so resistant to the iPhone touch screen.

Is having a cell phone wo…

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Burger salad night: Cheaper, healthier and just as good as going out for grub.
Burger salad night: Cheaper, healthier and just as good as going out for grub.
Family meal time is important to every member of the household.
Family meal time is important to every member of the household.

Give "Dining-at-home" Month a try

For the sixth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2012."

All this talk of food during OnMilwaukee.com's Dining Month has me fantasizing about my favorite places to go OUT to eat: Silver Spring House in Glendale for their chicken wings and French onion soup, carnivorous delights from Ward's Downtown, the tempeh reuben from Beans and Barley on the East Side, BBQ ribs from Speed Queen on Walnut Street, my beloved chocolate malt custard from Kopp's, Sunday night Prix Fixe dinner at the Capitol Grill, Mexi and Margs at Botanas on the South Side and Sunday brunch from really anywhere ... the list goes on and on.

But, frequent eating out wreaks havoc on my waistline and makes a major dent in my wallet, so I choose to cook at home, three meals a day (and snacks) most days of the week.

The vision of me cooking in the kitchen on a daily basis is contrary to what a lot of folks think my life is like; so much so, that it often leads to gasps of "YOU doooooo?" when I declare that sitting around the table as a family for at least one a meal a day is priority in our home.

I'm not sure what is so unbelievable about the fact that I plate a meal every night – if it's a personal thing, or a sign-of-the-times cultural thing – but the effort is well worth the rewards. Even if I choose to drown our food in a pound of butter, use conventional pasta or add sweetness with real sugar (none of which I ever really do), I am still far more in control of what goes on our plates than if we dined at a restaurant together.

And physical health benefits aside, our souls are healthier from the time we spend together talking candidly in the comfort and privacy of our home. Our dinner talks often start with "So, honey, how was your day?" and segue to much grittier, …

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Larrissa Beckenbaugh and PJ Heffernan from PJ's Yoga Shala.
Larrissa Beckenbaugh and PJ Heffernan from PJ's Yoga Shala.
Shayne Broadwell from Core Essence.
Shayne Broadwell from Core Essence.

Yoga "teacher training" is big business

September was the official National Yoga Month, celebrating the Eastern tradition that the West and the rest of the world has enthusiastically embraced for its fitness, health and spiritual benefits.

Yoga "teachers" do not need to be certified, credentialed or attend any special "training" to instruct yoga. This may come as a surprise even to yoga teachers, who, when looking for a job, may be faced with the stipulation of "must be an RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) through the Yoga Alliance." Often, these studios looking for teachers are "RYS – Registered Yoga Schools" through the Yoga Alliance.

So, eager yoga students passionate about their practice and wanting to progress to teaching are almost forced to take (expensive) "teacher trainings" to qualify to be "certified" as a yoga teacher. They then have to register with the Yoga Alliance, paying a fee to maintain their "RYT" teacher status.

And the Yoga Alliance (a non-profit organization) is doing pretty well because of it, as their website financials state: "Yoga Alliance and YA+ have released their 2011 financials by posting them on this website. The combined organizations reported revenue of approximately $3.25 million in 2011, which represents a 37-percent increase over the $2.37 million generated in 2010. They also ended the year with a surplus of $78,806, which was down from $364,188 in 2010."

Wow. Looks like yoga is one of the only businesses thriving in this economy. (Yoga as a business. This, in and of itself, gets some yogis' mats all up in a bunch.)

On the other hand, how many yoga teachers do you know whose "revenue is up in the last year"? Yoga teachers are typically paid per class, from my experience, starting around $25 per class. This fluctuates where you are in the country, at gyms versus yoga studios and by the teacher's experience. Some studios pay per student in class (again, from my experience) around $5 per student.

Private yoga sessions can be anywhere from $35-$150 per session – again…

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