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FREE 609 Credit Verification Letters

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , , , , , Categories: 609 Credit Verification Experiment Project,Personal Finance

In this post you will find, as promised, the credit verification letters you need to send to the credit agencies demanding that they provide you with physical proof of signed contracts for your negative credit accounts or alternatively, delete them.

I know these letters work because I USED THEM MYSELF, word for word, to get current collection accounts and hard inquiries removed from my own credit profile, raising my credit score substantially – with positive results in as little as a month!

While not difficult, the process can be tedious and if you’re willing to be patient and somewhat organized, you can can succeed in giving your personal credit status a significant boost!

Feel free to download and use, making adjustments as you see fit.  Additionally, drop me a line and let me know how your process goes!

Addresses for the Three Main Credit Agencies:

TransUnion
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022

 

Experian
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013

 

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

 

609 Credit Verification Letter 1

 

609 Credit Verification Letter 2

 

609 Credit Verification Letter 3

 

 

Free 609 Credit letter templates | The PIckled Ginger - Download our free 609 Credit letter templates and free yourself from bad credit!

609 Credit Verification Experiment Project Step 3: Round 2! Follow-Up Responses

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , Categories: 609 Credit Verification Experiment Project,Personal Finance

Disclaimer:  I am not being paid or sponsored by, and am in no way affiliated with any brands or products mentioned in this blog post.  The opinions and conclusions of such are my own and are as a result of my unsolicited use of said products and brands.

About a month after mailing out your initial credit verification letters to the three main credit bureaus, you will start getting your responses.  Each response will likely be a multipage document letting you know that an investigation has taken place and that the pages attached detail the results of that investigation.

Following are the results I personally experienced from each of the credit agencies.

  • TransUnion: As I mentioned in a previous post, TransUnion was the most stubborn of all the three agencies.  Their response was a multipage letter/report stating that an investigation had been opened per my request per each adverse item I had inquired about (Note that the letters I sent are NOT a request to investigate but rather, a demand to provide physical verification in the form of signed contract), followed by a detailed report of each item and the outcome of each investigation with updated status.  My first inquiry or letter resulted in NO deleted items and a whole lot of disappointment.  I immediately started doubting the effectiveness of this whole process.  A little over a week later, however, I was encouraged by the receipt of a response from Equifax:
  • Equifax: This agency was by far the easiest to deal with.  Only 2 weeks after sending in my first 609 credit verification letter, I was able to log onto Credit Karma and see that my score had gone up more than 43 points, and that there were some pending changes to the adverse items I had inquired about.  A month and a half after I had send in my first letter, I finally got back a response in the form of a detailed report of each item, and the results of their investigation.  Again, although I had not requested an investigation take place, one had been opened.  As expected, no physical verification was included in the report, but the good news is that approximately half of the items I inquired about were deleted.  The rest of the items came back as “We verified this item belongs to you.”  I was pleased that there was some progress, but I still had more work to do.
  • Experian: Experian seemed to be a mixed bag.  Their response was well over the 30‑day period allotted by law and of the 11 or 12 adverse items I inquired about, only 2 were actually deleted.  The rest were labeled as “Updated” with a notation that I was disputing the accounts.  I didn’t get real results until Round 2 of the 609 credit verification letters.

ROUND 2

I immediately set out writing my responses to all three credit agencies.  As you will see in the 609 credit verification letter No. 2, I addressed the fact that the agencies incorrectly assumed I was disputing the items and that I was still waiting on physical proof that I had entered into contracts with these companies.  I also addressed the fact that they claimed some of the items were “verified” as mine and asked them who specifically verified the items and how.  Additionally, I reiterated by basis for writing in the first place, referenced the law and demanded again that I wanted to see proof, and that I would seriously consider a lawsuit should my demands not be met.  I included a photocopy of the report they sent me, as well as a reference to the certified mail receipt from my initial letter with the date they signed for it to prevent the agency from claiming they ever received a letter in the first place.  Additionally, I took a highlighter and emphasized all points in the letter that I wanted the bureaus to take note of, especially the laws and the fact that I was demanding physical proof of a contract.

I sent each letter immediately upon receipt of the agency responses, thereby keeping with the staggered schedule.  The responses to this second letter were quicker in coming than the first round and looking back, I think that might have had something to do with the widespread snow storms we were experiencing earlier in the year.  The results were more a bit more encouraging and were as follows:

  • TransUnion: Still a bit stubborn, they deleted several of my items, but there were about 4 they simply addressed as “verified” and “updated”.  I could see no pattern, as their choice of accounts to delete seemed rather random.  My score through TransUnion did go up 27 points.
  • Equifax: They pretty much deleted all but one adverse item.  I don’t understand the rhyme or reason to it, but I have one negative item remaining on my Equifax credit score.  They didn’t even send me a response to my 2nd letter, they just deleted all but one of the items.  The one remaining item left is a collection account for an old cellular phone I had and it’s about to fall off anyway due to its age.  I’m not even going to sweat it.  My score jumped up another 49 points.
  • Experian: Less than 30 days after sending in Letter No. 2, I received a response that Experian deleted all but 2 negative items on my account.  That’s 9 more deletions.  I don’t really know what my score through them is, but judging from the effects the deletions of negative accounts has had in the other two credit agencies, I’m sure it’s substantial.

So that’s where things stand for me as far as my 609 credit verification experiment.  I recently sent out Letter No. 3 to TransUnion and Experian in an attempt to get those remaining negative items off my credit report, and am awaiting responses.  Letter 3, as you will see, is pretty much a repeat of Letter 2, with a reminder of the law and the possible outcome of a lawsuit if the agencies don’t comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act by either providing physical verification of the credit accounts in question, or deleting them.  I will be sure to update you as to the outcome of those letters.

My takeaway from this whole experiment thus far is that it does work, it’s just a lot of tedious work and you really need to keep organized.  I have files on each of the credit agencies in which I keep copies of the letters I send, responses received from the agencies, and the certified mail receipts for the letters I mail.  I document EVERYTHING, including the date I receive responses from the credit bureaus.  It doesn’t look like I will have to make good on my threat to file suit, but if for some reason I did go in that direction, having everything documented would really help my case.

Do you think you want to try this on your own credit profile?  As promised, here is the link to download the letters in PDF format for you to send to the agencies, along with the agency addresses.  I hope things work out for you!


609 Credit Verification Experiment Project Step 2: Examine your credit report and start asking questions

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , , Categories: 609 Credit Verification Experiment Project,Personal Finance

Disclaimer:  I am not being sponsored or endorsed by, and am in no way affiliated with any brands or products mentioned in this blog.  The opinions and conclusions of such are my own and are as a result of my unsolicited use of said products and brands.

In my last post, we briefly discussed two key elements or laws of the Fair Credit Reporting Act that benefit you, the consumer.

First and foremost, the credit bureaus are responsible for verifying that the information they receive from banks and other creditors about you is true and correct.  In fact, they are required by law to maintain a copy on file of your signed contract or credit application.  The simple fact is that they don’t have it.  Your information is plucked right out of your application and sent electronically to the credit reporting agency in large batches, along with other consumers’ information.  It’s just more efficient that way.

Second, you have the right to your personal information from your credit file upon written request and proper identification verification, which by law is your driver’s license and Social Security number.

In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly what to do to get started cleaning up your credit report.

You need to obtain your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, and start going over them with a highlighter to determine which accounts need to be removed.

As it had been a while since I’d pulled my reports, I was easily able to go to www.annualcreditreport.com, and pull all of them easily in electronic format for free.

When you’ve determined which accounts you will be removing, you will write a letter to each credit bureau, detailing that you are a consumer who is aware of the law (chances are, whoever opens your letter and reads it is completely unaware of the laws in the Fair Credit Reporting Act), and that you are requesting the copies of the contracts bearing your signature that they are required to keep on file for each of the derogatory accounts you are inquiring about.  You will detail each account in your letter by name and account number.  This part of the letter will be done by hand, as well as your personal information such as birth date, social security number and credit report number (which you will find on your credit reports).  The rest of your letter can be typed.  A template of the letter with what you need to say is provided here.

NOTE:  PLEASE READ ALL OF THE POSTS RELATED TO THIS CREDIT VERIFICATION PROJECT BEFORE YOU SEND OUT YOUR LETTERS.  NEGLECTING EVEN THE SLIGHTEST DETAIL CAN IMPEDE THE GOOD RESULTS YOU WILL GET FROM SENDING THESE LETTERS.

Once you’ve done this for all three of the credit reporting agencies, you will mail your letters, one at a time, several days apart.  YOU MUST SEND THE LETTERS CERTIFIED MAIL BY THE USPS!!  This is very important.  It costs very little to do this.  For all three letters, the postage for certified mail amounted to less than $12.00.

After you have mailed the letters it’s mostly a waiting game until you get your first responses.  To help pass the time, I downloaded the Credit Karma app to my Android phone and checked weekly to see what changes had been made to my credit, including the score.  As the credit bureaus take their allotted 30 days to respond, it was encouraging to me to see the changes updated weekly via the Credit Karma app.  Additionally, the information pulled weekly from Credit Karma are considered “soft” pulls and therefore do not negatively affect your credit score.

Some who have tried this 609 verification method have been fortunate enough to get everything removed in one round of letters.  I, however, was not so fortunate.  Trans Union seemed to be the biggest hold out, and as I will detail later, I had to actually write three rounds of letters to them before they finally removed all of my negative items.

It is strongly advised that during the 1 to 4 months it may take you to get the negative items off of your credit record; that you do not open up any new credit accounts, such as loans or credit cards.

If you have read all of the posts regarding this project (all found under the “609 Credit Verification Experiment Project” category to your right) and are ready to move on to the next step, click here!


609 CREDIT VERIFICATION EXPERIMENT PROJECT STEP 1: UNDERSTAND THE LAW

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , Categories: 609 Credit Verification Experiment Project,Personal Finance

In my previous post, I summarized the little-known method of removing derogatory credit items from your credit report using the verification inquiries based on laws in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Many people on the internet charging a fee for this information refer to this method as “609 Credit Verification” or “609 Credit dispute.”  The name is only partially accurate, but that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you know why you’re doing what you’re about to do.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act dictates that the credit reporting agencies are to verify all information received from creditors before they put it in your credit file.  The law recognizes proper verification as a contract or application with your signature on it.  When was the last time you actually signed a credit card application?

This law was practical when it was written, as facsimile machines were the technology of the time, and the banks no longer had to snail-mail copies of the contracts into the agencies.  But with the increased use of the internet and electronic data filing, it just became more efficient to use software that electronically pulls your information from the bank database and sends it electronically over to the credit agencies, which they then place into your credit file for all potential creditors to see.  They do this with NO actual verification that you even signed a contract or application!  They are breaking the law!

Additionally, you need to understand that the Fair Credit Reporting Act also states that you have the right to know the information in your credit file pertaining to you, the consumer (not your creditors), but you can only have the right to this information if your request is made in writing and if you can properly verify your identity with a driver’s license and Social Security card.

If you understand these two key points of the law, you can easily get started removing derogatory marks from your credit report and raise your credit score!  Are you ready to begin?  Then let’s get started!


609 CREDIT VERIFICATION EXPERIMENT PROJECT: The Credit Agencies are Breaking the Law – And YOU Are Paying For It!

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , Categories: 609 Credit Verification Experiment Project,Personal Finance

TL;DR:  Credit agencies are all about money and don’t care about the law.  They suck.  Get ’em back by learning about some laws written to protect you, the consumer, and take some action.  Oh, and it’s free.  Doesn’t cost anything but time and a little postage.

_____________________________________

For a long time, attempting to raise my credit score has been a losing battle.  Poor choices and impulse buys finally caught up with me about the time my family hit a rough patch financially.  As anyone who’s found themselves suddenly short on income and low in savings can tell you, the lack of digits in your credit score can seriously affect the ease with which one can sail through such unexpected circumstances.

While it seems counterproductive to make it nearly impossible for those with a low credit score to obtain credit cards, car loans, mortgages, employment or any other fundamental necessity for comfortable living here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., such is the way of things here, and maintaining clean credit really can make all the difference between struggling and thriving.  As one blogger aptly said it, “A person with poor credit is treated as a second-class citizen.”  Amen, brother.

Admittedly I know very little beyond the basics of credit.  Keeping credit card expense to a minimum and on‑time bill payment are pretty much the extent of my knowledge; but I have learned through experience that once caught in a cyclone of over-the-limit fees, late penalties and high interest, the damage is done, and the conventional road to recovery takes sacrifice, time, patience and let’s face it – humility.  But I’ve never been conventional.  I’m a naturally optimistic person.  I’m disorganized, I tend to procrastinate, I get bored easily and often lose focus, but I’m always able to pull myself out of a tailspin and start battling.  I’m a real Sue Heck.  (High fives to you if you get the reference.)  With that in mind, let’s talk about the real purpose of this post.

609 Credit Dispute

Have you heard of the 609 Credit Dispute or Credit Fix for your credit score?  I ran across it while looking for advice pertaining to raising my credit score and was instantly intrigued.  “Dispute” is really a misnomer, as it’s merely a reference to a law in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  In part, the law states that a consumer (you or I) have the right to see our credit files if we can appropriately identify ourselves (driver’s license and Social Security number) and that there are two ways to get information removed from a credit file:  1) If it can be proven incorrect or if it’s outdated (based on terms in §605); and 2) If the information cannot be verified [emphasis mine] (More on this aspect in a future post.

Now we’ve all been told that it’s a good idea to occasionally sweep through our credit files and correct old or outdated information, and that is really sound advice.  But what about the information verification aspect?  That’s kind of a vague statement.  And seriously, have you ever tried to get erroneous negative third-party information off your credit report?  It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.  My husband was once harassed by a collections agency due to non‑payment of a phone bill for a phone he never owned that was established in a state he had never lived in.  Countless time and energy was spent making calls to the three credit bureaus, the phone service provider and collection agency, resulting in a lock on his credit that lasted a long time and a derogatory mark which sat there for the customary 7 years.  We were completely helpless in the situation, or so I thought.

It turns out, there is a very effective, not‑so‑simple way to get derogatory information removed from your credit.  It takes relatively little time (3 to 4 months) and a bit of perseverance, but it can be done.  I know, because I have done it.

There are websites all over the internet charging anywhere from $30.00 to $699.00 for the information and/or assistance in executing the method.  There are also others out there that give you partial information, but don’t include the exact documents you need unless you pay them.  But there really is no need to spend that money.  I’m going to give you all the information you need clean up your credit and raise your score so that you can enjoy lower payments and interest on the things you need to live a comfortable life and I’m not going to charge you a penny for it.

First, you need to understand a few basic facts about the credit bureaus, how they operate, and about the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

They’re all about getting paid.  TransUnion, Equifax and Experian need to make money.  It’s their primary interest.  Every time a lender contacts these agencies and gives them your personal information, there is a money transaction.  The credit bureaus get paid to receive information and they get paid to give information.

Their customer service reps are clueless.  Most people who work for these big agencies have no idea what the laws are regarding credit reporting.  Their work is mostly automated and they have quotas to reach every day.

They are breaking the law!  There are laws written in the Fair Credit Reporting Act that protect you and I, the consumers, and much of the reporting in these agencies goes against these laws.  This is primarily because the Fair Credit Reporting Act was written before the age of electronic information and has yet to be updated.  But you can use this to your advantage.

The best way to get derogatory marks off your credit score is to start asking questions.  Yup.  It’s that simple.  Well, it’s a little more involved than that, but that’s what it boils down to.  You don’t have to “dispute” anything.  Beyond your identity, you don’t have to “prove” anything.  Provided you approach them the “correct” way, they (the credit bureau) must do all of the work.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Well it isn’t.  And I am going to give you exactly what you need to start the process, step by step.  Are you ready?  Then go here to my next post to find out what you need to do next.

The credit agencies are breaking the law and YOU are paying for it! | The Pickled Ginger - Find out how you can fight back and raise your credit score more than 200  points!

Cake and Squirrels

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , Categories: Uncategorized

It’s a rainy, chilly fall day here in NC, and while I am fully aware that this will become old really quick, for now I am enjoying it. I’ve been missing the autumns I enjoyed when I lived in the North, but the trees lately in NC have been glorious!

On the weight loss progress front, I have not much to report, so I will hold off numbers and photo until next Tuesday. My no-sugar streak lasted 16 days. I had a party to attend on Saturday that included cake and alcohol and while I never had any cravings or intense desire for any sugar, I did modestly partake. I was handed a couple drinks containing vodka and juice and I drink them. Also, I had a little cake. I was surprised that I stopped myself at a little, because it is commonly known to my friends and family that I LOVE cake.

What was even more surprising to me, however, was the effect that the sugar had on me. I came home and had the most difficult time sleeping. My body was buzzing and my heart was racing until about 7:00 Sunday morning, when I finally managed to fall asleep. I woke up at about 11:00 a.m. Sunday with some crazy heartburn that lasted most of the day. I am happy to say that I am now back on track and off the sugar, ready to aim for a full 21 days at least.

Before I go, I want to share a picture of the little squirrel my husband put on one of the cakes for the party last minute. He modeled it (and the acorns) in minutes out of homemade modeling chocolate and it was a real hit!

squirrely

 

Have a wonderful day!


Transformation Tuesday 10/20

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Categories: Health & Nutrition,Weight Loss Journey Progress

Good morning! It’s time again for an update on my weight loss progress. I’ve posted a photo wearing my traditional Transformation Tuesday uniform of my denim shorts and Guinness shirt (Oh my, what am I going to do when it gets really cold?).

 

10-20

 

Since my last weigh-in and since I’ve cut sugar and sweeteners from my diet completely (13 days ago), the scale has recorded a 4 pound loss. At first glance that can be disappointing, and quite honestly, the scale has been up and down the past two weeks. That means that my weight has been recorded between 316 and 320, a total of 14 pounds lost since the beginning of this journey (which has been side tracked quite a bit). I’m not doing any formal exercise (something I intend to remedy), but since eating like this, I’ve had a lot more energy and so I am on my feet and busy much more than I had been.

The telling aspect for me is how my clothes are fitting, in particular, my pants. I have one pair of jeans that I normally have to wiggle my way into and then lie on the bed, suck in my breath and push down my fat stomach in order to zip up. This week, however, it was just a matter of sucking in my stomach and pulling the zipper up (while standing!). The denim shorts I’m wearing in the photo above can now just be pulled up over my hips and belly without even undoing the button or zipper.

I’m not seeing much of a change in my liver roll, that fatty roll that started right beneath my boobs and is migrating downward. But the roll beneath that, my stomach roll, is definitely disappearing, and when I compare this photo to the last photo, it’s much less perceptible in the new one.

Over all, I feel better than I look, and so I will not discredit my progress. I have more energy, I’m sleeping better, I have no more regular sugar/carb cravings and I’m getting a lot more nutrients in my body with the raw greens and veggies and moderate protein and organic grass-fed dairy.

On occasion I make cakes for different events and I’ve got two coming up this weekend. I started this week on some aspects of the cakes, such as the modeling chocolate decorations, and I was surprised to find how easy it was to avoid consuming any of it. The desire is just gone and the smell of the sugary sweets is a little sickening to me.

I feel like any time now, things will start moving faster as I maintain consistency. As lame as it sounds, 13 days of anything is quite rare for me. They say it only takes 21 days to form a habit. I really want to see this out.

Thanks for checking in and I hope you have a wonderful week and achieve all your goals!


The “Sweet” Taste of Success

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , Categories: Weight Loss Journey Progress

I know I keep disappearing and popping up again out of the blue. It’s annoying, even to me, and I sincerely apologize for it. But I think things are going to be different from here on out. I’ve made a bit of a breakthrough.

As I alluded to in today’s earlier post, I’ve immersed myself recently in some education and research about nutrition and the effects of processed sugar on our health. I’m not, nor have I been (recently, anyway) ignorant about what it takes to be healthy and lose weight. However, like so many others I’ve had some seemingly inexplicable mental block that prevents me from accomplishing my goals.

When I first started this weight loss journey, I said I was going to limit my sugar intake and schedule myself “cheat days” where I could eat anything and everything I wanted. This is not an uncommon practice, and many have successfully achieved weight loss doing this. I received an email from a young woman who successfully accomplished her weight loss goals. She tactfully advised me that I was setting myself up for failure with this approach. Acknowledging that processed sugar is a huge stumbling block for me, she reminded me that my body and brain would need sufficient time to wean itself from sugar and acclimate to all of the good wholesome nutrients being put into it.

I weighed her advice, but in the end I chose to continue with my plan of action.

Guess what? She was absolutely right.

Almost 2 weeks ago at the urging of my husband, I finally made time to sit and watch a couple of documentaries on the effects of processed sugar on our health, “That Sugar Film” and “Fed Up.” It was obvious to me before I ever saw the films that sugar is toxic and addicting, but watching the films really drove the point home for me.

After taking a day or two to think about it, I decided to cut the sugar completely, as well as flour, rice, and pasta. It seemed extreme, especially when I realized I was eating a little every day (usually in a bit of wine, or a flour tortilla or a little chocolate here and there), hoping that my huge intake of greens and protein would balance out the effects. But for the first time, I was really strict with myself. Further, I severely limited my fruit intake. Natural sugars in fruits, eaten in their natural state (not juiced!) are fine for most people. The fiber in the fruit slows the absorption of the fructose into the system, keeping insulin stable. But I realized getting rid of the mental desire for something sweet was just as important for me as conquering the cravings my body was signaling. This meant that I would have to omit anything sweet to my palate, including artificial sweeteners (We don’t touch those anyway, right?) and lovely, juicy fruits.

It was hell the first couple days; I won’t deny it, but so worth it. I’m now on my ninth day of sugar free eating and I feel pretty great. I’m sleeping better at night, my energy is up and my clothes are getting looser, so there has been some definite weight loss, which I will happily share with you next Tuesday after I finally weigh myself and snap a picture. My skin is crazy soft. My cravings for sugar have completely gone! I went to an artisan street fair in nearby Greensboro with a couple friends last night and was not tempted one bit by the funnel cakes and other goods being dispensed from the many food trucks present. Better still, I’m craving greens daily. I look forward my daily consumption of salads, raw veggies, nuts, eggs, cheese, butter and the occasional fish or meat. This way of eating is completely sustainable, especially now that the cravings are gone, because I just do not want the bread, cookies, cake and chocolate, even when it’s right in front of me!

I know this is not the end of sugar in my life for eternity.  I still love to bake for others and I love drinking socially.  But I’m not dependent on it and right now, that is a huge accomplishment.

Needless to say, I’m excited and hopeful about the future!

 

 


Educate Yourself

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , Categories: Health & Nutrition

As a general rule, I don’t watch documentaries. I break that rule from time to time, but rarely. It’s not that I don’t like a good documentary, but there are certain topics I feel that I am pretty knowledgeable about, and when a documentary comes along that supports my conclusions on a given topic or exposes the selfish agenda of agencies or individuals who are supposed to be helping individuals, raging righteous indignation sets in, and I don’t often handle my feelings in the most appropriate way. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that I sometimes possess a kindred understanding of people who say and do bat-shit crazy things seemingly out of the blue to get a point across.

My husband, by contrast, is a documentary junkie. Working from home enables him to indulge in this obsession pretty much day and night. Of the two monitors set up on his desk in his home office, one is always, without fail, running a documentary of some sort. And also without fail, after each film, my husband will give me an account of what he’s just watched and try to persuade me to watch as well. I always tell him no thanks. Until last week, that is.

About a week ago, I gave in and sat down on the couch with my husband and watched a documentary called “That Sugar Film.” The documentary was made by an Australian man, Damon Gameau, who decided to embark on a 60‑day experiment wherein he would consume Australia’s national average of 40 teaspoons of sugar per day and record the changes to his otherwise healthy body and mind. This was remarkable for him, as he had been sugar-free (including no processed foods) for 3 years. The aim of this rather light-hearted documentary with a serious message is to educate about the real toxic effects of sugar on our bodies in the quantities that Western nations consume it. As far as health documentaries go, it was mild, as well as entertaining. I highly recommend taking some time to watch it.

A couple nights later, serious PMS and a nasty cold took me down, and as I could find nothing worthwhile on the television, and Gameau’s sugar documentary was still on my mind, I decided to Netflix Katie Couric’s documentary, “Fed Up”, another documentary my husband has been talking incessantly about and trying to get me to watch with him. It highlights the pervasiveness of sugars in our diet and our government’s long-time complicity with the food manufacturers in keeping the population in the dark about nutrition, while continually pushing the garbage products. The film features families with obese children who are struggling to lose weight, and dumbfounded that cutting calories, consuming goods labeled as “heart healthy” or “fat free” and incorporating exercise don’t seem to work as far as promoting healthy minds and bodies.

My takeaway from this documentary is 1.) Processed sugar is killing us – Literally. It’s toxic, it’s addictive and not one of its many forms is better than another. Learn the various names for processed sugar and read labels. Better yet, stop eating processed foods. Buy healthy wholesome ingredients and cook for yourself; and 2.) Take the time to educate yourself on nutrition. Don’t look to the government recommendations to lead you in the right direction. There are so many different approaches to health, some more insane than others, but be objective. Ask questions. Find out what’s in the food you’re eating and find out why and how foods affect your body in the way that they do. Better yet, stop eating processed foods! Buy healthy wholesome ingredients and cook for yourself!

Where have I heard that before?


On the Road Again (to Health)

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , , , , Categories: Weight Loss Journey Progress

Happy Tuesday, everyone. How goes it?

So I returned later from my trip than I had anticipated. I miss my family. That is a strange thing for me to say, as when I did live in the same state as my extended family, we hardly saw each other. We’re all married, have our own responsibilities and struggles and finding time to get together has always been difficult. I’ve had to keep reminding myself this since I’ve returned to North Carolina. We were there for a wedding and while it was a great experience convening with my fam, it’s just not typical.

As expected, I did drink wine and eat cake. I had allowed myself that, but it was not nearly as much as I had assumed I would. Maybe it was the fact that I had gone entirely wine and sugar free the week prior, but the sweetness of the cake was overwhelming to an unpleasant degree and the wine just didn’t do it for me. So I mostly imbibed water. Lots of it.

Returning last week, I immediately spiraled into a bit of depression. As mentioned before, I was just missing the loud laughter and chaos of my family and coping with the cloudy gloom that had settled here in NC – quite a contrast from the gorgeous weather offered in Ohio for the weekend of the wedding and following days (again, not typical). I’m slowly coming out of it.

I’m not going to post a picture today, as I’m carrying an extra 5 pounds of water and so I’ve nothing to celebrate. Every time I take that 7 hour drive to Ohio from North Carolina, my body swells up. My legs take on a tree-trunk-like appearance and my feet feel like they’re going to burst out of my shoes. This was likely another reason why I didn’t indulge in the sugar and alcohol I had been looking forward to. It only lasted a couple days, but then there was the drive back home to contend with, and for some reason it seemed worse and has lasted longer than the drive up.

I do have an interesting anecdote from my trip. In one of my first blog posts I think I mentioned how my family views obesity. My mother mentioned to me the other day that had she helped Charles Manson himself dispose of his murder victims, her father (my grandfather) would forgive her if only she was trim and fit while doing it. It sounds silly, but in my family everyone has been ingrained that being overweight is the ultimate sin. Unfortunately for my mother, only myself and one of my sisters have the curse of being overweight.

I had not seen my grandfather in a little over a year. I was shocked at his appearance at the wedding. He is tiny and frail and his dementia has progressed to the point where he barely remembers anyone anymore. I approached him to say hello and give him a hug. His lip curled up in his signature sneer and he said to me, “You’ve gained a little weight haven’t you?” With my ears and face burning from the humiliation of about six of my cousins witnessing the encounter, I acknowledged that I had.

A couple days later I stopped by my grandparents’ home to visit. I literally fielded 2 ½ hours of questions from my grandfather about my weight. “Have you always been so heavy?” “Is your mother that heavy?” “Do you have plans to slim down?” and so on. In his earlier years before the dementia settled in, he never would have voiced his concerns. Not to me anyway. They would usually come by way of my grandmother, to my mother, to myself. But he can’t help it, I know. He’s just a shell of who he once was: The man who used to make me crisp waffles topped with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup; who always kept a stash of his favorite treat – maple cream sticks – to feed us grandchildren when we would visit; the same man who ran up to the store every time a grandchild visited, to pick up popsicles or soda. I often wonder how my cousins managed to maintain slim figures despite these terrible eating habits, but I digress.

I came home more determined to lose this damned weight, and now that the fog of the post-vacation blues is wearing off, I will get to it. I should mention that I’ve been eating clean since my return. The water weight is just a temporary issue that should resolve itself soon, I’m sure. I haven’t exercised since I’ve been back and I know once I jump back on that, I will get the scale moving again.

And with that, I leave you all until next week. Have a great one!