Thursday, August 30, 2012

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain--and most fools do!

Thanks to Dale Carnegie for this post title, even though he's dead and has no idea I'm using his quote. The reasoning behind it will become clear momentarily. So yesterday I took my monthly pictures and did measurements. The mug shot style of them is just generally unflattering, but it is cool to see a difference month to month. I just can't believe I didn't really take a starting weight pic! I mean, I have a few pics of me at my heaviest, but it would have been nice to have one in the same clothes like all the others. But that may just be me being OCD. Anyway, like I said, I can see a difference, but of course my crazy inner critic Gertrude has to horn in. Gertrude likes to point out where I still have rolls, where my arms could look better, where my face could be slimmer. Basically, Gertrude just enjoys telling me that I'm still not good enough. And it's true that I still have major weight to lose. But there is quite a difference between accepting that and using it as incentive to work hard, as opposed to completely disregarding the large amount of weight I have already lost and focusing only on what I still have to lose. I would say my general mindset is usually somewhere in between those two. As I've said before, I'm a work in progress.

Sometimes I think the fact that I have lost weight before makes things more difficult for myself. Oftentimes when I am really having a hard day working out, I'll just think, "When I was thinner before, I didn't even break a sweat doing this. Why can't I be like that now?" Or when I'm buying clothes in a new smaller size, part of me will be thinking about the fact that when I was thinner, I was a size smaller than that. I know these thoughts are mean and serve no purpose, but they just pop up in my brain sometimes. I have always had trouble giving myself credit for the good things I have done. It always ends up where I may congratulate myself for a job well done, but there is always a "but you could have done this part better." Yes, this tendency does drive me to be a high achiever, but sometimes it is enough to drive me crazy too!

Here is me attempting to congratulate myself in a healthy way. I have lost 60.6 lbs in 9 weeks, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at (why would you sneeze at something anyway?), especially since the original goal was to lose that amount in 12 weeks. Have I lost that weight by doing everything perfectly, working out every single day without fail, and eating a completely clean diet? The honest and short answer is no. I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes and will continue to do so, just hopefully fewer of them. I'm living in real life after all, and sometimes life gets in the way. But I believe that I have done a hell of a job overall transforming my life and myself. So today, I will make myself look in the mirror and not focus on how far I have left to go in my journey, but instead on how far I have already come. Corny? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Why? Because that's how I roll ;)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Holding my scale hostage under the bathroom sink

I think I speak for most people who have struggled with weight when I say that the scale can be your best friend and your worst enemy. It is the epitome of the word "frenemy." I'm going to be honest about the fact that I let the scale influence how I feel way too much. Hey, I'm still a work in progress. For example, I can be feeling great about my work-out and my eating one day, but if I hop on the scale and don't see a loss, I feel disproportionately disappointed. And vice-versa. If I see a great number, it affects my mood positively all day. I know in my mind that some of the thoughts I have regarding the scale and my weight on it are stupid and not mentally healthy. I also know that weight isn't everything. It only measures one aspect of my lifestyle change. Yes, I know all those things in my mind, yet I still have these crazy thoughts. Hey, at least I recognize it! So, for your entertainment, I would like to share a week's worth of crazy scale thoughts.

Wednesday (weigh-in day): Okay, I've got to make sure I'm ready. Went to the bathrooom? Check. Clothes off? Check. Shoes off? Hahaha, please. Like I'm that much of an amateur that I wear shoes to weigh! Shoes weigh at least 20 lbs! No food or drink yet? Check. Hmmmm...I still have my Bodybugg and earrings on. Better take those off. They could weigh like 5 lbs!

Step on the scale. Look straight ahead. Do not look down until the weight registers...I said do not look down! (Weight pops up) Okay, good job! Wait, better weigh again just to be sure. And a third time to be extra, you are not an obsessive freak! Go ahead and leave the scale out on the floor. Obviously you have enough self control to not weigh until next Wednesday. Obviously!

Thursday: I swear that scale is staring at me, pleading with its little imaginary puppy eyes for me to get on it. No! Have some self-control!

Friday: Wonder how I'm doing? I had my high calorie day yesterday...OMG what if I gained from that? But wait, I worked out extra hard. Well, I think I need to weigh just to see where I stand. I mean, I need to see if I should make adjustments. But I had a huge glass of water this morning. That might make me gain at least 2 lbs. No Kristen, that's just the crazy talking. Okay, I'm going to weigh. (Weight pops up) What?!? I only lost 0.4 lbs so far. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. Well, guess who's getting an extra work-out today?

Saturday: I really want to weigh again. I have to make sure I've turned things around. No Kristen, you said you would only weigh once a week. The scale must go hide under the sink so it doesn't stare at me every time I'm in the bathroom.

Sunday: I hear the scale calling my name from its place of exile under my sink! No, I will not give in to scale temptation! I do not have a scale addiction. I can stop weighing anytime I want. Yeah, right...

Monday: I have to know! It's my last chance to see if I am getting it right before Wednesday. (Weight pops up) Yay! Right on track. But now I've ruined the suspense for Wednesday. Who cares? My need to know is greater than my need for suspense.

Tuesday: Duh, you can't weigh today. It would be psycho to weigh today when you weigh tomorrow. And you know you have a nice, healthy, non-psyho relationship with the scale.

Tuesday night: (Speaking to the scale through the cabinet door under the sink) "You better be nice to me tomorrow. There are much worse places I could hide you than under the sink."

Wednesday again: (Does crazy weigh-in ritual) CELEBRATION! See, I lost my weight. No reason to act all crazy over the scale. Just put away the scale until next week...

Okay, so obviously some of that was an exaggeration. Hopefully, you were aware I'm not that crazy!  But I do think it is very easy to let the scale be the only thing to dictate how you measure your success. Like I said before, in my mind I know that there are many things just as important that are not measured by any scale. Now I just need to work on convincing my heart of that fact. I hope one day I can look at the scale and see it as just a number, not a reflection of who I am as a person or how hard I have worked to turn my life around.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blame it on the squash

So I had some random, sappy thoughts today while slicing my squash. And no, that is not a dirty euphemism (although, if it was, I'm not entirely sure what it would mean. Ideas, anyone?). Most of my thoughts stemmed from the simple fact that a few months ago squash and I would not have been seen anywhere near each other. However, french fries and I enjoyed a deep relationship that has now been brutally severed. Anyway, while I was getting my squash ready for baking, I was just kind of overcome with how happy I am to have made these changes in my life. I put it off for so long, partly because of bad memories of my deprivation diets of the past, partly because I am the Queen Procrastinator of the World, partly because of laziness, and if I am honest with myself, partly because I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to really commit to losing weight, because what if it didn't work? Well, obviously nothing was going to work if I stayed parked on my couch eating my previously mentioned friend the french fries and other various "friends." I've spent too much of my life not doing things because of all the "what ifs." I've decided to be done with that.

I am so happy now to be eating foods that not only are helping me lose weight, but are also actually doing great things for my body. I'm happy to be working out (most of the time) and getting more and more endurance. I'm happy that I felt my bicep the other day. An actual muscle and not just arm flab! I'm happy to be losing so much weight that my pants sag on me three weeks after I buy them (well, my wallet is not so happy about that one). I'm happy to finally start to see a person that I recognize in the mirror.

One of the things I am most happy about though is the decision I made to share my journey with others. At first, I was scared. It takes courage to put yourself out there, courage I wasn't sure I had. I wanted to be honest about my journey, but as I have mentioned before, I am a perfectionist. It terrified me to think of others knowing about my setbacks and failures. But you know what? I think sharing my small failures and setbacks has been the most freeing part of all this. Now it's kind of like, "Here's what I did. It's over, and I've moved on. I learned from it and I hope maybe you can too. Please also enjoy a funny story about it!" It made me realize that people are not going to write me off because I made a mistake. In fact, I think many times people may relate more because they have made the same mistake! So I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to support me on this adventure, whether it was liking my Facebook status about my weekly weigh-in, trying some new recipe with me, being my cheerleader when I do have setbacks, or reading this blog. It has really touched me to know how many people are there for me, and knowing how many people think my words are worth taking the time to read. So here's a big thank you to all of you!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Up in da gym, workin' on my fitness

I thought I should devote an entry to my second home, the gym. And although it may be informative, it would not be very entertaining for me to list the exact order of the machines I work out on and for how long, or what my highest treadmill speed is, or what work-out song I listened to last Wednesday at 7:04. If any weirdos, oops I mean special people, do want to know that stuff, feel free to contact me as long as you're not a crazy stalker.

Anyway, while I spend most of my time in the gym having laser-like focus (haha) on the work-out at hand, my mind does tend to wander sometimes, especially while doing cardio. So here is a consolidation of some of my random thoughts in the gym. These are not all from one day. That would be kind of spastic and I would need to be evaluated for ADHD.

0600: It's so early. Why didn't I stay in bed? I mean, I'm sure I burn lots of calories sleeping since I tend to kick my legs. It's almost like cardio!

0605: Ahhhh, 45 minutes on the elliptical. Maybe I should just do 30? No, Kristen! Stay strong! Maybe 35?

0610: The guy in front of me is kind of hot.The view makes this easier. Oh crap, he saw me looking!

0625: Why is this random song on my playlist? Listening to "I Touch Myself" doesn't really pump me up, plus it's a bit creepy.

0635:  This place has too many mirrors. I mean, I get you need to check your form or whatever, but this many mirrors is really overkill and cruel to the majority of American women who are not built like supermodels.

0645:  Done with elliptical! No, you can do 5 more minutes. Just do it. It's good for you, like broccoli. Or cheeseburgers. Wait, no thinking about cheeseburgers.

0655: I feel kind of hardcore with all this sweat. Also, kind of gross.

0700:  I don't think my arm can physically lift this weight one more time. Maybe I should use the other arm to help it up. Wait, no. That just looks special.

0715:  My legs are killing me. I feel like I should wear a sign saying, "Please excuse me. I don't normally walk like an 80-year-old woman with severe arthritis."

0720:  There is just no flattering way to do a sit-up, especially the ones where you stick your legs in the air.  Whatever. When I get my abs of steel soon, people will be so distracted by their sheer perfection that they won't notice how stupid I look.

0725:  Do not think about how your foot was run over by a treadmill as a child. DO NOT THINK ABOUT IT. Ummm, I just thought about. I will never like treadmills.

0730:  I should just walk at a 2.0 today. Running at 5.0 can't burn that many more calories, can it? Quit bullshitting yourself, you lazy bum. Of course it burns way more calories. 

0745:  Tired of my music. Should I listen to the morning news or a rerun of Keeping Up With the Kardashians? I'll try the news like a responsible, informed adult. There, 5 whole minutes of news watched. I've done my duty. Now Kardashians.

0755:  Why did this woman have to get on the treadmill right next to me when there are 10 billion other ones open? Especially since she must be some kind of genetically engineered 70-year-old because I know normal 70-year-olds just do not run that fast. Way to make me feel inferior, you evil mutant. I bet she doped her water and that's how she is doing it. Yeah, that's it.

0800:  Wow, I love how I look and feel like a graceful gazelle running through the wilds of Africa when I run on the treadmill. Wait, just caught a glimpse of myself in that damn mirror. Make that a clumsy hippo lumbering through the wilds of Africa with the panicked eyes of an animal being chased by a lion. But in a gazelle-like fashion.

0810:  Done! Now to hobble out to my car and resist the 10 million fast food restaurants between me and my apartment. Until we meet again tomorrow, gym!

So yeah, now you see the inner workings of my mind. Be afraid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

50 Pounds Lost!!! I don't need a catchy post title after that!

I am really proud of myself for losing 50 pounds. But I think what I am proudest of is the fact that I have done this the right way. It's really the first time I have ever lost weight in a healthy way. In high school, I would go on "diets" (I use that word loosely here) where I would basically deprive myself of anything I liked. Also, for some reason, I ate a lot of jello then (sugar city!). Of course, diets like that don't work long. My last year of college, I started out exercising the right way, but then got too obsessed with it and eventually burned out. I was also too focused on eating processed diet foods when I should have been eating fruits, veggies, and lean meats.

So even more than that number on the scale, I am proud of finally getting the hang of moderation. Do I work my butt off at the gym? Yes, I do because it is important for me to push myself. You don't lose 5 pounds a week by being slack and lazy. However, working hard is different from being crazy obsessive like I was in college. When I missed gym workouts last week when visiting my grandmother in the hospital, I didn't freak out. When I saw I had only lost 0.4 lbs while I was away, I was a little upset but mainly just focused on working out hard the rest of the week. And I am not aiming for a crazy daily calorie burn like in college either. I aim to hit my goal of 3700 calories burned a day, which will let me meet my 5 pound a week goal. If I get a little more than that, great. If I get a little less, I just know I have to get in more activity in the next day. If I burn 5500 calories like I did yesterday through a combination of working out, muscling tennis balls onto the legs of chairs (no, not a new weird hobby. I'm helping my mom get her classroom ready), and running around manically at work, well that just means that my muscles are sore and I am hobbling around like I am 80.

I think the change that has made the biggest difference is my eating habits. Like I've said before, I've always been an all or nothing girl. I either deprived myself and tried to eat 600 calories a day, or I ate anything and everything I could. This time, I eat foods I like. I get excited over new recipes that turn out well. I found a low cal cake that I seriously want to eat for my birthday because it honestly tastes better than a regular cake. I try not to eat as much processed food, but I don't get upset if I do eat something processed once in a while. I don't judge myself for my reduced sugar fudgecicle habit (they are so good and only 80 calories for 2!)  I have come to the point where I am honestly more upset if I go below my daily calorie goal than if I go slightly above it. That took a while, but it is true that you don't lose as much weight if you don't eat enough calories. Once a week, I let myself eat what I want if I am craving something, without feeling guilty. If I'm not craving anything, I don't just eat more calories because I am supposed to during my high calorie day.

Of course, I'm not perfect. I have days where my old thinking habits creep in again. I have days where I really don't want to go to the gym. I have days where I wish I could be naturally thin and eat cheeseburgers every day (well, maybe not EVERY day) and never exercise. I have weeks where I weigh in more than I am supposed to (like this week lol) The important thing is that those days are the exception, not the rule. I move on when I make a mistake. Being perfect used to be so important to me. But in all areas of my life now, not just weight loss, I am learning that it is okay to make mistakes as long as you don't let them keep you down. This means that I may have found...THE SPACE IN BETWEEN ALL OR NOTHING. Sorry, had to insert my blog title in the corniest way possible. It kind of reminds me of how soap opera introductions are, how they always have to work in the title of the show. Not that I have ever watched soap operas....ummm well just One Life To Live.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Before pic: Not only fat, also stupid with no makeup and highly questionable fashion choices

I thought I would discuss how stupid some before and after pics are on weight loss shows. I mean, we get it! Obviously someone will look drastically better in the after pic (hopefully). I would think just the weight loss would show enough of a difference. I just don't think it's necessary to have the before pic have the person shown with no makeup, a highly flattering outfit made entirely of spandex and humiliation, a mouth wide open in order to better shove cheeseburgers in, and an expression that is a mixture of mentally slow and freakishly depressed. Then the after pic shows the person with designer clothes (for some reason usually very shiny and almost neon), professionally done hooker make-up, a badly applied spray tan, and an expression that screams, "I'm on uppers!" Also, sometimes the women look a bit emaciated in an effort to lose as much weight as possible to win $250,000. But hey, I probably would get a bit carried away too. I did eat just lettuce and canned crab for a while just to win $1000 in my contest a few years ago.

Anyway, like I said, it's just not necessary. Yes, it makes people sad to be fat. But they are capable of smiling. They don't need to look like they are going to slit their wrists any minute in the before pic. And while I may be fat, I'm not stupid. I was fat when I graduated from high school as valedictorian and I somehow managed to give my speech without having the vacant expression deemed necessary in a before pic and apparently on fat people in general during everyday life. Do I wear spandex in real life? Hell no, nor should I ever, just like 99.9% of the population.

In my real before pic, I aimed for a neutral expression and normal work-out clothes. Although, it did kind of look like a mug shot just due to me doing a front shot and profile shot while holding a sign in front of me with the date. In my after shot, I will have the same clothes on, hopefully hanging off of me. I will smile, but not manically. I take pics every month, so this last month I kind of had a half smile that hopefully said, "Not there yet, but getting there!"

A few years ago, my best friend took a fake before shot of me, making fun of them based on my previous observations. Although it is really an after shot since it was after I lost weight. We used pillows in my belly and butt. Don't judge us...we were then nursing students in desperate need of procrastination tools. Here are the pics:

Actually, the vacant expression may be for real. It was the last semester of nursing school and my brain was pretty much fried. The dark shadows under my eyes aren't bad here, but they were usually a lot worse that semester, fitting since I averaged 3 hours of sleep a night. Too bad, would have been a nice touch here.

And here is my after pic!

Lol...j/k. I may have lost weight, but I'm pretty sure I didn't turn into Brooklyn Decker overnight. And as required by someone (not sure who...maybe scary lawyer people?), I do not own the above pic or any rights to it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When life hands you lemons, suck out all the vitamin C and scream, "Eat that, life!"

Hey, it’s all about how you look at life’s difficulties. Another fave lemon phrase (actually my only other lemon phrase besides the original) is:

When life hands you lemons, say. “I like lemons. What else ya got?”

It’s been a tough week. I met my goal…another 5.2 lbs down! But it has been one thing after another lately for my family. We had to put our cat Steve down last week after we found out he had a mass, and he was in pain. Then my dad got sick and needs gallbladder surgery next week. Finally, my nana fell and fractured her back. She is in the hospital and we traveled 5 hours to see her today. We will be staying a few days. I love her so much, and would never put my weight loss goals over me being there for her when she needs me, but at the same time I admit I am nervous about changing up my routine. I’m great at establishing habits and routines, but I easily break them. I can’t allow that to happen now. I am also a major emotional eater, and I recognize that this is a high risk time for me to fall back into old habits. But I think that is the key to a positive outcome…that I do recognize potential problems before they happen. I don’t just react to existing problems anymore.

So yes, my routine will be different while visiting my grandmother. I’m looking at it as an opportunity to show myself how much I have changed for the better though. I’m not just going to have a free-for-all with all the crappy hospital food. I’ll do the best I can food-wise and just make sure I am being honest with myself about making the best choices I can. I have no gym (ahhhh!), but I’m making myself get up early with the sunrise and jog. Well, more like walk/jog…wog? Whatever it is, I’m doing it. Plus, I got excited to unload a carful of heavy items today because that burns calories too. Whatever this week brings me, I will face head-on and accept, whether the results are positive or negative. Remember, in the middle of difficulty lies “ficul.” Well, actually in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity (and ficul too I guess).

Sunday, August 5, 2012

With This Ring, I Thee...Ummm...

No, sadly this entry does not mean that my fantasy man has put a ring on it. I am still a single lady, and therefore eligible for and required to dance to Beyonce's song at any and all weddings. But my relationship status is another story altogether. Another story could also be my complete lack of dancing skill, which ensures that during that song I have no chance of giving up my single lady status. But I digress.

The ring I am talking about is a very special one to me. I bought it with the gift certificate I won after I won the local Biggest Loser contest 5 years ago. That ring represented to me one of the the very best parts of myself. This was the part of me that believed I could accomplish anything if I set my mind to it and worked hard. It may be corny. It very probably is corny since I can be a very sappy person. I just usually don't share my sappiness with others. For instance, when reading the ending of one of my favorite books by my absolute favorite author Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper, I always have to be alone every single time because I sob like a baby. Off subject, but fun random fact about Kristen! Anyway, for a while, I wore that ring all the time. But after a while, different things started happening to get me off track. I stopped exercising. I ate a lot of crap. And obviously, I gained weight. At first, I didn't wear the ring because I didn't feel like I was worthy of it while behaving like I was. But after awhile, I didn't wear it because I couldn't physically get it on my finger. It stayed in my jewelry box, waiting for me to get a clue.

You would think maybe me not being able to shove my ring on my fat sausage finger might be a catalyst for change. But it wasn't. And if I have learned anything, it is that you can't really successfully lose weight if you are not truly ready to change. And for a long time, I wasn't ready. I read a quote I really liked (surprise, surprise...what quote DON'T I like?) that said, "Being overweight is hard. Losing weight is hard. Pick your hard." I had to reach the point where staying overweight was harder for me than losing weight. Six weeks ago, I finally reached that point. I can't say there was some dramatic moment where I decided to lose weight. It might make a better story if there was. But this is real life. I was just sick of being fat and ashamed of myself. I was finally sick enough of it to actually do something about it.

When I decided to take control, I took my ring out of hibernation. Until I am able to wear it on my finger, it will stay on a chain around my neck. I guess for a while people will just have to believe I only own one necklace, because the only way this ring is coming off is if someone pries it off my cold, dead neck. Hmmm, that didn't sound as good as the phrase "cold, dead fingers." Here it is now (sorry, no bonus cleavage today):

 I am proud to wear my ring now because I am proud of the positive steps I am taking. I'm not ashamed of myself anymore. Do I believe my ring has mystical powers that will causes me to lose weight? No, but that would be so awesome! My ring is like a little talisman to me, a reminder of the person I am capable of being and am becoming everyday. Here is where my ring will be soon, right back where it belongs:


Friday, August 3, 2012

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

Sorry for the seemingly random title. I couldn't think of a catchy one having to do with cheating.  But I did eat some pumpkin this week, so maybe it fits after all. No, not cheating like Kristen Stewart did to Robert Pattinson, although that may make for a juicier blog entry. I'm talking about cheating with food. I personally do not like that term. I try not to use it, but it slips out sometimes anyway. The word cheating implies that I made a mistake eating something I wasn't supposed to. I prefer the term "high calorie day" because that implies that I am in control. I think actual cheating would be if I drove by a McDonald's and randomly crammed a couple cheeseburgers in my mouth surreptitiously. In that situation, I would be giving into a craving without thinking it through and planning for it. It would also be gross because I hate McDonald's, but that is another topic altogether. On the other hand, a high calorie day is planned for, and I still feel in control of my eating. High calorie days are important because in order to succeed at losing weight, you can't feel deprived. And by high calorie, I don't mean go crazy and eat 5000 calories. After all, even though I am working out, I'm not Michael Phelps (Have you seen the amount he eats? Wow.). I usually aim for 1800 calories on my high calorie day, when normally I eat 1200.

For example, I have been craving a chicken quesadilla from Flaming Amy's (Wilmington people know what that is! Hot, fast, cheap, and easy...greatest motto ever) for days. So I planned that yesterday I would get a chicken quesadilla from there. I just couldn't drink a regular soda though after knowing how many calories are in them. It's just a waste. I did let myself drink Diet Coke, which was a treat since I have pretty much cut out soft drinks, diet or not. The quesadilla was delicious as always. But I could only eat about a third. Apparently, my stomach size has dramatically shrunken. Kind of like gastric bypass without the surgery! So my calorie count only ended up at about 1300. I wasn't going to shove more food in my mouth just to get to 1800 calories. I satisfied my craving and felt like I had had a little treat. That is the point of the high calorie day, not just eating a certain number of calories.

On a side note, I'm back to eating my normal number of calories this week. Hopefully, that will translate to a better number on the scale. I'm also a dork and excited because I am going to get some protein powder to make shakes with. It seems hard core lol.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Schooled By My Bod!

Well, I guess if I needed proof that cutting calories too low is bad idea, I got it this week. Now, I want to be clear on this: THIS WAS NOT INTENTIONAL FREAKISH CALORIE CUTTING. I say this because some people know that I have done this in the past, and I don't want anyone to think I am going crazy again like that. And because it backfired on me last time (lost 0 pounds then), I had a sneaking suspicion that the weight loss would not be great this week. I've had a weird stomach bug going on and have had no appetite at all. It was a struggle to get in the 600 or so calories a day I did eat that past few days. Today my frenemy (lol) the scale told me quite clearly that my body does not enjoy being starved. I'm only down 3.2 pounds this week. But that does make 40.8 overall!

Oddly enough, while I am sad I did not lose more, I am also a little bit happy that my body behaved that  way. If I had lost a massive amount of weight, I think Gertrude's voice might have gotten stronger in telling me that extreme calorie restriction equals more weight loss. So I'm glad that didn't happen because it is a struggle for me sometimes to get that through my head. It is somewhat gratifying to see it in numbers on the scale that that crazy way of thinking really doesn't work. Okay, now hopefully this week my body will be so grateful it is being fed that I will have an awesome number this next week!