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Gettin' All-Primal in the Applachians

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  • Yodel-ay-eee-hoo Journal!

    Just to get this out of the way... if you would be detecting a somewhat "odiferous" scent in the air, that would be me, the rotten pile of Crabbcakes, because I have done some bad stuff. For starters, I still have not begun the YAYOGing. I really don't have too much of an excuse other than I have been on the road a lot, but those circumstances aren't new to me, so I really need to get a grip on this. I did manage to find a yoga class at the YMCA that I will be starting next Monday, though, so I consider myself a smaller (rather than huge) pile of poop at the moment.

    Although I shouldn't get too proud of myself - the yoga class is Stretch and Relaxation yoga, not Bikram or anything like that. I ran into the yoga teacher last night at the Y, who filled me in on some details about the class (like the focus / style thing). She is really nice, a bit older than me, very welcoming, and definitely not a yoga snooty-broad. I ran into one of those in the summer of '11 - there is a yoga studio just across the street from where the Girls Crabbcakes used to take gymnastics, so one day I went to check it out. Even though the website comes across as really friendly and down-to-earth, when I went in the front door I actually got tossed back out because a yoga class was about to begin and there would be "privacy issues" if I stayed. Beats me what those "privacy issues" would have been (because she didn't elaborate on them - I guess it was too "private" to even state what the "privacy issues" were) - I wasn't toting a news camera or looking like a homeless heroin addict or anything - I had just come to ask for information sheets. So I never went back there. If the teacher has a complex already, I don't think there is anything worthwhile to learn from her.

    For more stinkiness, I ate one McDonalds cheeseburger, one s'mores, and drank two sodas at the zoo overnighter. The zoo rules state that no food can be brought into the tents (they have enough problems with native scavengers of the food left in the enclosures for the exotic animals, let alone courting even more of them at the camp site with SAD snacks...), so First, Fourth and I ate as much as we could out of our cooler before entering the zoo (cooler was left in the locked car way out in the parking lot). That would have been about 5:45 in the afternoon (program began at 7:00 p.m.). After dark the zoo staff started a weeny fire to roast marshmallows in (you can tell that I have been living in the country too long - anything short of a righteous blaze seems like something created to light a few cigarettes), and I eventually succumbed to the sweet-smelling lure of milk chocolate, graham crackers, and toasty marshmallows. But I really did only have one.

    The night in the tent was cold and really, really damp. Friday night in Cleveland was not a good night to be out tent camping - lots of rain. I didn't sleep well at all - mostly because I was worrying that First and Fourth might be cold (even though the temp wasn't dangerously low and we had sleeping bags and flannel sheets and warm jammies and they slept peacefully all night) and then because I couldn't stop thinking of stuff like big, steaming bowls of beef stew... New England clam chowder... cheese and broccoli soup...

    Breakfast the next morning was an incredible assortment of granola bars, grainy breakfast bars, single-size cereal cups, cheap oj, and 2% milk. I had half a glass of the milk and IF'd it the rest of the way.

    So, by the time the program released all of us (10:00 a.m. Saturday morning), all I could think of was getting some really heavy food into me, and all that I could find that was open was the Mickey D's and the Pizza Hut places in the main courtyard of the zoo. (The girls wanted to take full advantage of the free Saturday admission to all zoo areas that came with the overnighter, so we stayed at the zoo.) I bought a 2 cheeseburger meal - First and Fourth shared one burger and all of the fries, I got the second cheeseburger, and we all shared the soda. I did actually feel better after that - not so desperate. A bit bad for not IFing it longer, but I really didn't feel all that well, and the food did help, SAD that it was.

    Around lunchtime, we did find a new-to-us eatery in the Rainforest building. That was much better - they offer soups, salads, panini. First and Fourth got a roast beef panini and I ate the side dish of cole slaw (soup starts October 1st ). First brought ice water to the table, and then we refilled with another soda before we left for some more exploring.

    If I had to do the overnighter again, and we definitely will, now I know to absolutely STUFF our huge cooler with food and Thermoses filled with steaming chowders so I can just wait for the 10:00 a.m. release time and leisurely walk to my car for a full meal of Primalness, instead of getting desperate. (We ate all the food in our cooler the afternoon before... no leftovers... . )

    On the good side, we had an incredible time seeing the zoo at night, special hands-on animal exhibition just for us, and even got to go behind the scenes at the zoo. The staff lived a tent alongside us, answered every question, and the guy (of the guy-and-gal zoo overnighter team) even woke us up boot camp style with a lot of really loud yelling to an accompaniment of the 80's metal band Poison. FUNNY!!

    All in all, Journal, I think I kept the non-Primal damage to a minimum. I guess the biggest lesson in all of this is to BE PREPARED when it comes to Primal food. Fourth has her own 48oz wide-mouth food Thermos (she is an incredibly picky eater, and won't eat if her food is cold during the winter months, so we bought her her own...) and I think I need my own. Hell - I think everybody in this house needs one!

    Otherwise, I am in the throes of an incredible days-long sugar craving. I keep trying to kill it with dark, dark chocolate and butter and lard and Primal whole foods, but like those trick birthday candles that keep relighting themselves, this just keeps on returning! Aaaargh! Early this morning I bought chicken livers - I hope that turns out to be the H-bomb of Primal ordnance!

    For final notes to life in the Crabbshack, Third got her first Kinesiotape application at PT yesterday (on her back - posture issues). First is continuing to suffer with a cold (she had it before the zoo overnighter, got just well enough to go, and then crashed again Saturday night) while Second kicked her cold to the curb. Fourth has informed me that she wants to take martial arts classes so she can do rougher activities than she already has, Second wants to return to dance, and First wants to ice skate and ski, as well as play acoustic guitar. This weekend is our TeensyTown tractor pulls again - excellent! I continue to forage and hunt for food at our local farm stands instead of the regular supermarket, to successful and delicious effect. Third is getting used to not having margarine on her food. Last week I joined our Amish friends in their kitchen for a Concord grape juice-making-and-bottling session (with a steam juice extractor pot), and scored their homemade ketchup recipe. And Third's OT told me that she can absolutely see that I am still losing inches - ego boost!!

    So, Journal, that brings you up-to-date. As always, I will return...
    I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


    • Hi all,
      Felt quite lethargic this week. Not sure if it all the nights out and alcohol or the change in the weather. Going dark a lot earlier here now.
      Been to Zumba tonight and glad I went, the dancing we do is very feel good. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Going to have a sort out and sell some stuff on eBay- two reasons, to have a declutter as there are loads of toys no-one plays with and it will hel out with the cost of Christmas.
      My 3 sons mainly want money for Christmas. I buy them underwear, books, chocolates and one of their favourite things is I fill up for each of them craft boxes with dividers with their favourite sweets.
      Must be the dark nights turning my mind to Christmas.


      • Originally posted by annedawso View Post
        Hi all,
        Felt quite lethargic this week. Not sure if it all the nights out and alcohol or the change in the weather. Going dark a lot earlier here now.
        Yeah, me too, but as the school year has started, I won't get a break until I fly to my cousin's wedding. I think it is the changing of the seasons. I need to get out every day now for a walk in the cooler air and sunshine - that helps regulate me and acclimate me to the cooler days to come. Today I got some weeding and pruning done and am feeling very mellow and happy with myself. Or it could be the huge dollop of mascarpone I put on Second's tomato broth with veggies she made for all of us just now...
        I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


        • Hi all,

          I'm still here, but very busy with my translations. Nice to read about your adventures. I feel you about Christmas coming. Here in Germany Christmas sweets start to appear in the shops by the end of August. Is it the same in the US and the UK? Normally I have no problems with resisting sweets, but around Christmas (and Easter, which is also sweets season here) I really get into trouble. And this after being low carb for six years and more and more primal for the last two. Must be a psychological thing: I feel like a child that isn't going to get a gift this year. So, as you confessed your sins (alcohol for Anne and fastfood at the zoo for Crabbcakes), I confess that I ate a big bar of nougat the day before yesterday which gave me terrible sweets cravings yesterday. Fortunately I could fight them off by eating a lot of fatty stuff, always works like a charm.

          I was thinking of you in the last days. Crabbcakes, the action of my current novel took the heroine to Cleveland, but alas not to the zoo. And Anne, we have a festival here which is called "Eight days a week - Liverpool in Köln". There will be a series of events with young, avantgardistic artists starting today until the end of October. Each event has a title that refers to a song by the Beatles. Looks like an illustration of the theory about "six degrees of separation" or "small world" ...

          Have a nice weekend!


          • I hate the commercial aspect to all of our holidays, secular or religious. Yeah, Christmas stuff is coming out here and there, and Thanksgiving is starting to dominate our shelves already, even though Halloween isn't here yet. I asked a store stock-person about the Christmas stuff and he said that people buy them out already - which is why the stores order/stock even more of the stuff. Gack.

            I have wanted to have almost totally handmade holidays for a long time now, and I think I feel energetic enough with the Primal to really do it. Until now, we have mostly bought things from consignment stores and Goodwill and such so we aren't contributing to new production/shipping of plastic China crap (when I didn't actually get a craft done for whatever reason). I was recently watching old episodes of Extreme Engineering (a Discovery Channel show) and the shows were all about how ports in the US, the Panama Canal, et al., have to dig deeper channels / bridges need to be built with higher clearances underneath to accomodate the new supersized container ships now floating on our oceans. Do you know how much shit will be added to that swirling Pacific Ocean garbage patch if one of those things sinks?!?!

            I am a tree-hugger at heart, and have always done everything I know to tread lightly on the earth, and humble non-plasticky holidays suit me just fine. If it didn't require a dictatorship to accomplish, I would so totally make a law that everything that doesn't 100% biodegrade on its own / be able to be completely recycled is outlawed from the land, both domestic production and imports. I was talking to the moms at Third's riding center and mentioned that I have always wanted to build an energy-self-sufficent (off-the-grid), non-toxic, natural-materials house with perhaps even composting toilets and one of the moms looked at me like she had just had a stroke.

            One of the best, super, totally great things about living in Germany was that it was considered "American" (unnecessary) to take a shower each morning whether you need one or not, and that you really won't die if you just wash up anything needing attention until you get to the point where a full bath/hot shower would be good. I have sensitive skin, and that little bit of culture has saved my skin. My kids were taught this, and we don't go into contortions if we are out for an overnighter somewhere and have no shower available until we get home. At my recent zoo overnighter, you wouldn't believe how many times the OFFICIAL NOTICE went out that the zoo doesn't have shower facilities for the overnighter attendees.

            And the babies! Oh, my Lord, how many times do I see babies with dry skin and exzema and all that because their moms think they MUST have that daily evening bath! With chemically crap "baby wash", to boot!

            And since I now have worked myself up into a lather, I shall just continue to rant... political campaign money should go to literacy education and national/state parks/nature preserves (just because I love books and parks so much); teacher's unions should be outlawed and all that lobbying money should be seized and used to open small neighborhood schools of whatever stripe the community wants; organic-biodynamic-grassfed-permaculture farmers should get most of the farm bill money; highway/city billboards should be torn down; all make-up should be organic and non-toxic and cruelty-free; the people who want to open My County's first porn shop should have their genitals shrivel up and fall off; all TV news shows should be in the Charlie Rose format and not crap info-tainment; and hopefully God Himself will have mercy upon us all TODAY and smite tv, print, internet, and radio ads from the face of the Earth.

            Chocolate. I think I need chocolate. Going now to get chocolate. And then chase that with mascarpone... and when will the damn avocados I bought finally be ripe!?
            I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


            • Well, we don't have Thanksgiving here, and Halloween is not such a big deal, maybe that's why the shops are full of Christmas stuff already.

              I absolutely understand your view on environmental matters. Here in Germany we are big into recycling, but I think recycling alone doesn't cut it. For example, some years ago there was a refund introduced for the collecting of plastic bottles. Now many people use the plastic bottles "guilt free", so to say. But I wonder if all those bottles are really recycled, and into what? Wouldn't it be better to use glass bottles? I just looked it up on the Internet, and they say that a glass bottle can be washed and refilled up to 50 times. Lately, I have been buying my mineral water (necessary, we have got very bad tap water here) in glass bottles. A bit more taxing, as I haven't got a car, but possible as the supermarket is on the other side of the street, and I have a small shopping cart to transport the bottles. So I think avoiding plastic waste is even better than recycling it.

              In the same vein, I try to use less plastic around the house. I stopped buying shower gel, shampoo bottles and liquid soap and use soap bars and a solid shampoo bar; I stopped buying liquid detergent in plastic bottles and use powdered detergent again. I make my skin creams myself and keep them in glass jars. I collect small glass jars and use them to store leftovers and have thrown out a lot of plastic containers. Only some of my favorite Tupperware items have survived the purge. It is not a lot, but I am pressed for money and cannot afford to go all green. But the few habits that I changed add up to a lot of plastic bottles that I do not use.

              I didn't know about the channels and bridges and the big container ships from China. One more reason to avoid stuff that is imported from there. My main reason though are the terrible working conditions of the Chinese workers. Lately I saw a documentary on the Internet about the "journey of the jeans". The filmmakers looked at where the cheap jeans that you can buy here for about 10 € (12 $) come from. The people in the factories who produce them earn very little money and get exposed to toxins that are forbidden in the rest of the world. I think it must be the same with all cheap goods that come from China. We have a sort of "dollar shop" in our neighbourhood. As soon as I realized how much stuff is imported from China, I went there and looked at the items. Nearly every single piece there is "made in China"! A lot are cheapo plastic items which, as I also learned on the Internet, are often produced with toxic chemicals. Once you pay attention you can smell it too ...

              Re the showering: I know that it used to be the way you describe. When I was a child, saturday was bathing day, and the rest of the time you just washed the strategic parts. But I grew up in a working class neighbourhood, and not everybody had a bath. Today I don't know anybody who doesn't shower everyday, myself included. Of course I keep it short to save water, and in an emergency like travelling or so I can go without my morning shower.

              Did you enjoy your chocolate? After "sinning" lately with the nougat I bought a 35 g-bar of dark Lindt's and nibble on that from time to time. I can handle small quantities, I just mustn't go overboard.

              Anne, are you still there?

              Have a nice weekend!


              • Hi all,
                Yes Bess most defintely still here. Just don't seem to have much free time to chat lately.
                I wish it was just te alcohol I had drank. I am also guilty of having a few desserts on holiday and the odd chocolate!!
                I have been too scared to get weighed, I forced myself on them yesterday and was 153lb so not much more than I was in the summer.
                Ideally I think I would like to be about 140lb and a UK size 12 but just don't feel motivated at the moment. Think I must defintely be affected by the seasons. I can wear black skirts and black tights now.!!!!

                I agree as I get older that the increasing commercialisation of Christmas is frustrating. I have forced myself to stop buying the kids cheap top up presents that they will never use. Read somewhere today that there had been a revolt at a Chinese factory due to the terrible working conditions. I am making do with the decorations I already have in and if I do top up will use hand crafted items. Though not made by me as I am far too impatient. I figure if I buy from craft fairs etc I am supporting the local economy. Every year I start to knit little Christmas stockings and give up after a few.
                Do love Christmas though, not for the religious side of it I am afraid. It is just nice for us all to be off work/ school. Going on long walks, being able to go the gym most days, watching tv and I hate to say it I will defintely be having some chocolate. A nice break from all the stresses of modern day living.
                Going to circuit training later as love the cameraderie(only a couple of us) actually while I am doing it not sure if I love it but I do love the group sense of achievement at the end.
                Torrential rain all day here. Normally it dries up for a bit, but not today. Speak soon.


                • Hello, ladies!

                  Anne, congratulations on staying the same weight despite some "guilty pleasures". Always look on the bright side ... (Do you know "Life of Brian"? I love Monty Python.) I weigh about fifty pounds more than you, and I can only agree that during the cold season it is much easier to hide some extra pounds. So you like to wear black? Me too!

                  I don't like Christmas very much. My daughter usually spends the holidays at her father's because he lives far away and she doesn't get to see that side of the family often. That leaves me in the role of the spinster aunt who sits under other peoples' Christmas trees, usually at my brother's with my niece and my nephews.

                  What are top up presents? Has it got to do with the British custom to put gifts in socks that children discover on the morning of the 25th? As you most likely know, here everybody gets their presents on Christmas eve, and they traditionally get put under the Christmas tree.

                  Good to hear that you have found some fun and motivation with you circuit training group. Ladies, I am celebrating a private sort of anniversary these days: I have been doing heavy lifting / strength training for nine months now, and in five minutes I'll be off for a lesson with a coach that will be my 100th training since I enrolled in the gym on the 18th December 2011!

                  Have a nice day / evening (here it's 18.15 p.m., a stormy day, and it's getting dark already)!


                  • Ohhhh Crabbcakes, I am so jealous that you got to stay overnight at the zoo!! The Rainforest is one of my favorite places. I even took a date there once because it's so awesome. Jealous!!

                    _-J o u r n a l_--------- ---- ---- --- --- -- -- -


                    • Originally posted by Bess58 View Post
                      What are top up presents? Has it got to do with the British custom to put gifts in socks that children discover on the morning of the 25th? As you most likely know, here everybody gets their presents on Christmas eve, and they traditionally get put under the Christmas tree.

                      Good to hear that you have found some fun and motivation with you circuit training group. Ladies, I am celebrating a private sort of anniversary these days: I have been doing heavy lifting / strength training for nine months now, and in five minutes I'll be off for a lesson with a coach that will be my 100th training since I enrolled in the gym on the 18th December 2011!
                      We have Christmas stockings, too, being seriously influenced by England in our history and all... It just isn't obligatory - I never had them growing up, Hubby always did, and now with the Crabblets it is hit or miss with the stockings, so they don't expect them like they do presents - they are just really excited when they do show up. Christmas presents are opened on the morning of the 25th in this house.

                      Re the 100th training session - WooHoo!! What are you going to do to celebrate?? Bloody steak and sauteed mushrooms?!?!

                      Originally posted by Gravyboat View Post
                      Ohhhh Crabbcakes, I am so jealous that you got to stay overnight at the zoo!! The Rainforest is one of my favorite places. I even took a date there once because it's so awesome. Jealous!!
                      Yeah, we loved the Rainforest, too - it was our first visit there (and our second to the Zoo), and I think I will build one just like it, orangs and fishing cats and all, and just live in a hammock strung up somewhere... (as soon as I hit the Jackpot on the MegaMillions or the Powerball!) Fourth was fascinated by the gharial (that smallish croc-mouthed toothy thing swimming in the tank across from the porcupines) and took lots of photos. First loved the mists and rain that came from the porcupine area - and I finally got to stare at a tarantula!
                      I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


                      • For unwanted excitement this morning, Third decided that it was a good day to faint - just completely fell to the floor, unconscious, shortly after I woke her up. So I called her off of school and ran her into the pediatrician, wondering what health issue she was cooking up already (fall and winter aren't her times of the year - she is frequently sick) - and it isn't even bad weather here yet (quite lovely fall so far).

                        Pediatrician said she was okay except for an upper-respiratory virus she had contracted, and even that wasn't bad. Hrmph. I hate it when she faints (she has done it semi-often in her little life). She even managed once to faint dead away while still sitting on the toilet with her pants down - although I know what that was about: she had gotten a bloody knee by falling down, but it got scraped UNDER her jeans and she didn't notice the blood until she had pulled off her pants to go to the bathroom, and once she saw the damage, her vagus nerve just couldn't take the sight of her own blood. (Yup - she faints at the sight of her blood - this is going to make menstruation a JOY when she finally starts.)

                        Gotta go - even though Third will be here at home recouping with Hubby, I still need to take the homeschool contingent to the library and swim...

                        Hey Bess - I will be returning from Germany just before Nikolaus, and this year my girls will be getting their shoes filled with candy direct from Deutschland!! (Yup - we have done Nikolaus every year with them, so even though they don't get Christmas stockings every year, they do get this!)
                        I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


                        • Hello ladies and all unknown readers,

                          I just got back from the gym, and I just have to post that here as I don't have a journal, and I think it doesn't qualify as a success story yet. As I said, I had a lesson with a coach, with whom I had gotten into an argument previously: He didn't believe me when I told him the weight that I was lifting on the machine for the abs (difficult to describe the machines; at my gym, they only have numbers and letters, but they are derived from the American Nautilus and MedX-machines) and said that I must be cheating on the form / technique. So I said that the only way to settle this was taking a coach lesson (is that the right word? It's a one-to-one training session with a coach), so he could watch me.

                          Well, he said several times over that he was "impressed" and that he had hardly ever seen a woman lifting that heavy. Ha, triumph! I have been really training hard, but generally nobody notices because I am still overweight (have been sitting at 210 pounds for years now, and nothing seems to budge the weight). But inside I feel so much stronger. To give you an impression: At the leg press (I think at least this machine is universal and exists in all gyms) I lift 180 pounds for each leg, so about 160 kgs in total. I'm celebrating with one (or two) glasses of dry white wine right now.

                          Crabbcakes, so sorry to hear about your daughter's latest misfortune. Let's hope that she will grow out of at least a part of her problems. My own daughter had so many health problems in her childhood: bad teeth, asthma, atopic dermatitis ... And today none of this bothers her anymore, although she may have inherited hemochromatosis from me. But this is very manageable (is that a word?) when it's diagnosed early in life.

                          Re: Nikolaus. We had a nice tradition in our family which I continued with my daughter. On St. Nikolaus' eve, we used to put out a dish of water and some carrots for Nikolaus' little donkey. And of course when we children woke up to see if Nikolaus left sweets in our shoes, the water had partially vanishend, and the carrots were visibly gnawed on ...


                          • Hey Bess!

                            Yes, manageable is definitely a word.

                            Thanks for the wishes for Third. There are some days/weeks where she definitely could use the extra good karma.

                            Re the gym trainer - way to go showing him who knows her stuff!! My aunt likes Frankenweine - you know, the stuff in those Bocksbeutel bottles that is waaaaaaay dry - makes me pucker up all over.

                            Nikolaus - your water & carrots for the donkey is very similar to kids leaving out veggie sticks for the reindeer sometimes. Lots of folks leave out a glass of milk and a cookie for Santa. My SIL does one even better - she also bakes a Birthday Cake For Jesus. Seriously - every Christmas she bakes a birthday cake because (duh) Christmas is Jesus' birthday. I, personally, think that is way beyond hokey, but she has always done that.

                            The last few years over here at Christmastime, there has been a brouhaha because the poor, put-upon Christians in this country feel that we all aren't religious and Christian enough and start campaigns to boycott stores/businesses that don't say "Merry Christmas" SPECIFICALLY, but instead use as a verbal greeting/print cards/put up signage, etc. that says "Happy Holidays" instead in an attempt to be more inclusive to those who celebrate Kwanzaa/Eid al Fitr/Hanukkah/are atheist or whatever. It even has a name now: the Christmas Wars. My best friend is a fan of this - she happily rattles off the places of business she has shunned for the grave sin of not choosing her favored holiday greeting... and she actually goes into both places (those she leaves as well as those she chooses to frequent) and tells them that she is taking her business elsewhere/bringing her business in for this reason (and not bad service/product, which would be, to me, a legit reason). She, at least, doesn't try to get me to do the same thing.
                            I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC


                            • I'm an atheist who was raised by an ex-Catholic, practising New Age/Spiritualist: Christmas is about food, family togetherness/traditions and trying not to spoil the little ones too much. I do the Father Christmas thing and, at some point, will try and teach our child about the various different flavours of Winter festival - made stranger by being in the Southern Hemisphere for the season. I love the romance of it all, the nostalgia and magic, but the commercialisation and pressure to spend drive me nuts.
                              I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.


                              • Hi all,
                                Bess - that is immense. You mut have felt so proud proving to the trainer that you could lift heavy weights.
                                I lift the heaviest I have ever seen any woman in my gym do. However that is not saying much as have never seen a woman lift heavier than a couple of pounds.
                                I tend to do free weights rather than machines. I do squats with a 50ib bar, chest presses with 22ib each dumbbell and back dumbbell rows with 30lb dumbells.
                                I like the feeling lifting heavy weights gives me, though with doing circuits and Zumba so much I normally only do it once per week.

                                Crabbcakes - surprised at you saying about how some Christians try to influence shops etc. have heard people here moan that public bodies call Christmas -holiday festival etc so as not to upset minority groups, though that is all they do -moan.
                                Don't agree with people trying to force their religious beliefs on others though. Wish they would worry more about the starving millions more instead of shops having. Merry Christmas signs. I think everyone should be more tolerant and just chill.

                                We leave mince pie, glass of sherry and a carrot out for Father Christmas and the reindeers. Won't this year as the 9 year old now knows there is no Father Christmas. We don't have Christmas stockings in our house, though I know it is quite common in some households.
                                When I was young Father Christmas left a pillowcase at the end of our bed which we opened as soon as we woke.
                                I always leave my kids presents wrapped in separate gift paper in the lounge now and they open as soon as they wake up.
                                My kids all want money as there main present nowadays, even the 9 year old.

                                Agree with Badgergirl and no doubt the rest of you that it is about family togetherness etc.

                                Bess - felt sad when I read about your Christmas Day and calling yourself the spinster aunt. Think I would be tempted to pretend to everyone I was going somewhere else, lock the front door and have a Christmas binge of cheese, crackers and a big box of chocolates. With the addition of a couple of DVD's and a few gin and tonics.
                                I normally have to spend my Christmas cooking for various family members, we normally have about 7, including us 5 for Christmas dinner. Not being the best cook I find it very stressful, though enjoy myself from when I serves the dinner.