AT&T. Absolute bollocks.

I thought mobile phone companies in Ireland were bad until I came over to the US.  My experience so far has been with AT&T and, in spite of the best intentions of the eager foot soldiers in the stores, the company itself leaves a lot to be desired.

Right now they are in the news for attempting to push through a merger with fellow GSM-carrier T-Mobile, something that I agree would be very bad news.  T-Mobile was going to be my next carrier once my contract (a ludicrous two-year imposition that most carriers tie you to in the US) expires in early 2012.  But if the government approves the merger then I may have to go CDMA (Sprint, Verizon) as T-Mobile will probably end up adopting the totalitarian approach of their larger cousin.  And we know consumers are not happy with AT&T.

In the year-plus I’ve been with them they have capped data plans, increased termination fees and locked down Android phones.  I also experienced, when travelling through the Dakotas, virtually no data coverage whatsoever in five days.

The latest show of might from my good friends at AT&T is them denying me the right to use my Motorola Atrix (my phone that I own) when travelling abroad unless I agree to an expensive roaming plan with themselves.  On a call with one of their representatives I asked him for my unlock code so that I could use my Irish SIM in the phone, and I was given a four-point response as to why that was not possible.

It was basically a patronising list of items that were none of their damn business: if you use a foreign number then friends and family won’t be able to reach you in an emergency (bollocks as all my friends and family have my Irish number), you won’t be able to access voicemail (bollocks as I use Google Voice for voicemail) and two other reasons I can’t even remember.  Probably because I was repeating the mantra: ‘you’re a stupid c*nt, you’re a stupid c*nt’ in my head.

He finished off his little spiel by telling me that I could avail of great deals with a roaming plan from AT&T (how convenient).

Not being particularly satisfied with the response, I took to Twitter, and some helpful AT&T lad responded to my tweet by investigating for me.  Sadly his response was not particularly useful either.

So according to AT&T my phone (and let’s be clear – this is my phone, bought outright in an AT&T store and not subsidised by them) cannot be used by me.  If I want to, I can go out and buy an unlock code online for about $25.  But I don’t see why I should have to.  I don’t see what right AT&T have for locking it down in any manner whatsoever.

But do they have any leg to stand on?  Is their roaming plan such an absolute steal that I am rendered a total clown for not biting the bullet and switching on roaming?

Not likely.

This is what AT&T would have charged me to use my phone in Ireland.

This is my mobile activity while using my Irish phone in Ireland with unit and total costs for both carriers (Irish per minute call costs averaged out as they varied depending on which network I called).

So in total I spent the equivalent of about $30 while away for the week, sending 95 texts within Ireland, 8 texts abroad and spending 12 minutes on calls.  The cost of that to me had I unlocked my phone and availed of AT&T ‘best roaming rates’ would have been over $70.  Even if I’d bought their ‘World Traveler’ package for $5.99 and taken advantage of 99c rather than $1.39 per minute call rates, I would only have saved $4.80 (12-times-40c).  So it would have actually cost me more.

It’s incredibly short-sighted of AT&T (and other carriers – let’s face it, I’m sure many of them behave like this) to alienate their customer base for a quick buck.  My mobile bill is about $90 a month – more than the $70 they battled to try and squeeze out of me in this fiasco.  Losing my custom in early 2012 will cost them a lot more than $70.

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Sleeping with a stranger

I woke up from a short nap on Saturday afternoon, concious of the fact that I needed to get moving as I was meeting friends later on.

Then I got this curious sensation.  There was someone not just in my apartment – there was someone lying in bed behind me.

I was on my side, facing the window.  Before I had a chance to turn around, I heard whoever it was adjust their position as if they were moving off their back and turning towards me.

An arm wrapped around me, grasping my wrists, their body pressing against mine.  They grasped me tightly.  I was unable to breathe for several seconds.  Then they loosened their grasp.

I tried to turn around but I didn’t have the strength.  I didn’t know whether it was a lack of physical or mental strength that prevented me.  The person didn’t give me a chance to figure it out as they once again tightened their hold on me, leaving me short of breath for a number of seconds.

I looked straight ahead – I could see the beige carpet, the blinds on the window, the bedside table hosting my keys and wallet.  I moved my right hand and could feel the body behind me but my eyes were heavy and my body sapped of energy.

Thoughts swirled around my head.  I’d read accounts from people who had reported unexplainable stuff like this: the presence of a dead relative, the sense that Jesus was with them or – at the other end of a scale – the experience of being abducted by aliens.  And here I was in the middle of something I couldn’t explain.  This was real.  I knew who I was, where I was and what my plans were for the evening.

Eventually I stopped fighting.  I closed my eyes, took some deep breaths and pushed myself out of bed on to the floor.  I looked up.

There was no one there.

This time I had woken up for real.

The American Drive

Where do I start with this American Dream thing I started living a few months ago?

I suppose the whole driving thing is the best place to mock myself.  I revel in telling people how much I hate driving – and they usually revel in telling me that I’m a dumbass and that driving is awesome. Whatever.

So I bought a pretty reasonably-priced car from a man with three Gs in his name (ironically it cost a lot less than 3Gs) and I hit the road for the first time in eight years.

Of course what made the whole thing hilarious is that not only was I driving for the first time in eight years, I was doing so on the opposite side of the car and the opposite side of the road.

Thankfully the task was made easier by the fact that driving an automatic car is about as difficult as blinking (leaving aside those children who look perennially amazed by their surroundings).  Seriously it’s like one foot and that’s it.  You could chop off your left leg, glue your hands to the steering wheel and it would make no difference at all.

So I had a bit of an adrenalin rush when I started it all off but that pretty much disappeared after one horrendous trip out of my comfort zone one night.  All it took was one misjudged lane change (although I’m pretty sure the arsehole behind me sped up when he saw my blinker go on just so he could blow me out of it) and there went my confidence.  A week later another gobshite was blowing his horn at me because I dared to slow down as I was turning left just to be sure the junction was clear.  He then sped past me roaring some unintelligible American at me.  Total cockface.

At the moment I drive as little as possible due to the absolute fear every time I turn the key (fear of the driving part – not a fear of being blown up Goodfellas-style).  And what happens tonight?  I only avoid being side-swiped by about half a foot by a total arsehead with a personalised number plate (KEELR 10) and some stupid college stickers in his rear window.  No signal, only the length of his own car between the car in his lane and my car and he goes for a frickin’ lane change???

Thinking about the event now I would like to think that I pulled up behind him at the light (which was red and 50 feet in front of us), stepped out of my car, found a cigarette from somewhere, lit it, knocked on his window, fixed him a Bruce Willis-stare, dragged on the cigarette (while suppressing the inevitable near-choke) and uttered some one liner like “you just changed his last lane, kid-o”.

The reality is that I didn’t even blow my horn at him.  I just sat there being pathetic.

Oh and I didn’t even get to the fact that I ripped my bumper off by pulling up too close to a kerb within the first few days.  Seriously, I’m pathetic. Someone hurry up and invent teleporting.

Naked shaving

I was excited after joining my new gymnasium (also known as ‘a gym’).  The entrance lobby was bright, the staff chirpy (apart from Mark – he’s just one of those guys who seems to think smiling is a sign of weakness), the equipment plentiful and in working order.

But then I was introduced to a strange phenomenon; one that I was previously oblivious to but has now scarred me internally…as well as externally.

Well, no.  Actually it’s just scarred me internally.

There I was, taking my post-workout shower in one of the very private cubicles; a little small but bigger than the average Dublin apartment bathroom.  As the final drops of water drained from the shower head, I patted my body down with my very cheap and completely ineffective towel.  The sign in the changing areas was deliberate and to the point – “Please dry off before entering the changing area”.  Unsure of how they intended to police it, I decided to get dry to the max.  This of course meant that I had to apply very strong scrubbing to the groin area.

After eleven minutes of that I wrapped my budget towel around my waist, ensuring that private areas were secured.  I exited the cubicle, and strutted with dry confidence towards the changing area.  As I passed a row of sinks on the right, I noticed an exposed male bottom.  “That’s ok”, I thought.  “Not everyone can get 100% dryness in those small cubicles.  He must be just consolidating between the toes.”

I walked the ten feet to my locker (people accessing the lockers either side of me in the otherwise empty locker room – obviously), turned slowly towards the shower area and spied the same white arse.  My eyes climbed to the man’s face to see if he was in some sort of trouble – perhaps a heart attack, a state of shock or he had become frozen in some sort of isolated ice age.

This is how to shave.

But, no.  He was fine.  In fact he was more than fine – he was naked shaving.

In one of the strangest displays of machismo/lack of awareness that I’ve seen, this man was shaving his face with nothing on.  His towel sat crumpled beside the sink, presumably determined by him to be some sort of obstacle to the task at hand.  For an undertaking that required his hands and face – the two parts of the human body usually exposed – this man chose to expose everything else.

I edged my way across the changing room until I stood directly in line with him.  And with that simple navigation I had the answer.

It was massive.

My first acupuncturism

After over a year struggling with this bloody Achilles injury and having chalked sports massage, physiotherapy and reiki off the list of possible solutions, I decided to drop in to the herb and acupuncture store* – for yes, we have such a thing – at my local shopping centre.

I’ve never once walked by it in the company of someone who didn’t pass remark “how does that place stay open?”  But having researched online, there was a reasonable percentage of people saying that acupuncture was in fact helpful for tendonitis.

So a pleasant Chinese woman (presumably – the Chinese bit I mean, not the presumption that she was a woman) told me that I could get a free consultation and told me to “take a seat” before adding “not literally!” and laughing hysterically.  No, no – she didn’t say the last bit.

A minute later this young, earnest guy directs a middle-aged, confused looking Chinese man to a curtained-off cubicle next to me and then ushers me in afterwards.  He explains that the other man was the doctor and that he was going to translate for him.  Now the translator bit always throws me.  Ultimately I’m communicating with the person who doesn’t speak my language but I’m directing my information through the conduit of a second human being who gets all my attention during my speaking bit.

So I’m making eye contact with the translator who is then passing on the information to the doctor.  I look to the doctor with a rather gormless pursed-lip grin that I’m sure he could do without and then I’m going back to the translator with raised eyebrows, wondering if in fact the nature of my ailment had been properly communicated.

It’s a tense, critical moment.  Of course, my phone rings.  If it wasn’t bad enough for the wise healer to hear this he then had to endure this as the cancelled-caller left a voicemail.

Thankfully we overcame this hurdle and the doctor said he could improve my condition with some acupuncture and medical massage.  The numbers sounded a bit scary but I figured I’d poured so much money in to other forms of therapy and massage without relief that I’d give it a shot.

I lay on my back and the doctor jabbed a half dozen or so pins in to various parts of my body.  Just over my head was a sketched poster of a naked man that identified the “Acupoints” (a completely made-up word I’m sure) on our bodies.  Sure enough the points highlighted around my ankle/heel were the various points where I felt a little prick (speaking of which, on the poster, because they wanted to highlight acupoints on the inner thigh, they only semi-obscured his organ – and it still looked massive).

Meanwhile, the doctor is looking at me for a reaction as he prods my Achilles and occasionally utters something that sounds like “meh?” but I took to be him asking if there was any pain.  It wasn’t like he was saying the Chinese word for “pain”, I think he was just lacking conviction on the whole English language thing.

The Phrase BookHe sods off for 20 minutes and it was quite a relaxing experience I have to say.  He comes back to me, whips out the pins, says “ok?” and then brings in a barrel of what looks like warm sewage.  He gestures at a chair as if to say “sit on this chair and submerge your foot in to this barrel of ancient Chinese medicine”, looks at me and says “ten minutes”.  I guess they have some sort of phrase book to get them through the day.

This barrel of sewage, or whatever, was bloody lovely.  Oh, sure, there was what felt like a half-eaten Mars Duo at the bottom but that’s ok.  I mean…I’m sure it was just a Mars Duo.

So he comes back in, dries off my foot (after gesturing to me to sit on the edge of the bed again but I have to say it was a bit ambiguous) and then followed up with another gesture to lie down on my back again.  I do so and he gets working on my foot, massaging like a mad man.  It was a bit sore but I suppose that’s the point.

Then – get this – he stands up and says “face down, please”.  Now, hold on a second!  I’m buying in to this whole ancient, mystical Chinese thing because you can’t speak any bloody English!  And here you are practically asking me what I do for a living and if I’ve any plans for the weekend.  What a letdown!  I can only imagine that once I left he kicked his shoes off and put on “The Wire” boxset.

My image of this all-knowing doctor only being a step away from the this guy has been blown out of the water.  But at the same time it was quite an interesting experience so I’ve booked in for a second round.  Plus they gave me some anti-inflammatories and this Chinese massage oil that is so strong it actually rips your skin off and melts your bone.  I’m all about that.

* Mind you, I’m a bit concerned about this.

My first man-ssage

With a string of female sports masseuses having moved on at my gym I was left with the ultimate dilemma today – do I let a boy touch my naked body?

Over the last five years I’d gone through a number of masseuses: a former Olympian badminton player (badmintor?), an Asian girl who asked me every week without fail how (a) my girlfriend was and (b) my cats were, a very pleasant Dubliner with no particular character traits, a hard-ass with a pronounced growl, a very sweet girl who was young enough to be my daughter (if I had known what to do with it at 14) and a lovely but easily flustered Spanish girl who was the first and only one to effect inadvertent ‘towel rise’.

After a three month gap (possibly self-enforced after the above-mentioned rise of the machine incident) I knew I had to re-visit for my ever-worsening Achilles injury.  I checked in today to find that there was no masseuse…it was time for my first masseur.

Ed Kowalczyk - who looks like a masseur I "know"
Ed Kowalczyk - who looks like a masseur I "know"

I don’t have a picture of him (hey, I’m lying almost naked in a room with him – last thing I’m going to do is whip out a camera) but I can assure you that he looked like Ed Kowalczyk, lead singer of Pennsylvania four-piece, Live.  Seriously, spitting image.

So we start off with me lying on my stomach in just boxers shorts, a flimsy towel masking the fact that I shop at Pennys.  Ed (for let us refer to him as such) is working the calf muscle, diligently digging his thumbs in to my … calf muscle.  At this point (back in the days when women did this sort of thing) I’d usually be making small talk – you know, stuff like “how long have you been doing this?  what do you do for fun? do you like strawberry blond rockers with excessive body hair?“.

But today, with Ed working it, I found myself unable to relate.  I had nothing to talk to him about.  Occasionally he would see me wince and utter something like “Is it too hard?” to which I would mentally glance south and almost reply “Nope, sleeping like a baby…” before realising what he was talking about.

The kicker here is that the massage room is actually very romantic.  The lighting is deliberately subtle while the deep-yellow electric fire in the corner emits no heat but hypnotically meshes with the piano-led ambient music that repeats about six times in the hour.  It is supposed to relax you, transport you to an ethereal landscape where there is nothing around you except the sound of nature and a guy with a large selection of Yamaha keyboards.

As we entered the closing minutes of our rendezvous he yanked the towel clear and insisted I lie on my back while he observed how my feet “dangled” off the edge of the massage table.  This was a real test of my mettle.  I mean he’d already said the word “dangle”.

After he observed my something-or-other muscle (in my calf) and told me that I needed to crouch and bend a bit to fix it, we then got in to a slightly longer than anticipated discussion about nutrition and stretching with me sitting in just my pants.  In the days of masseuses there is no way I’d be pants-exposed like that for more than a second or so.  It was the ultimate test…and I passed it.

I now know I am capable of being boy-touched without any adverse reaction.  I am capable of maintaining eye contact with a boy massage person while sitting in just a tight-fitting pair of off-black boxers.  I have learnt much today.

Mind you, I’d still prefer a cracking bird next time.

A Weighty Issue

Wearing the radio
I was, for some reason, lying in bed with the radio on at 4am recently (“Had you got no pyjamas?” laughed a wag at the back of the hall). I overheard an interview with an English lady going on about some book she’d written about losing weight and the more I heard the more it reminded me of my own experiences. I figured a friend would find the book usefulbut I was also interested in dipping in to it myself.

The lady, Marisa Peer, quite simply argues that diets don’t work. I had heard that before back in 2001 when attending a weight loss class at my gym. The owner Dave Quinn told me that losing weight was about changing your lifestyle, not going on a diet. It was something you had to do forever. You can’t argue with that. There are more diets than ever but there are more overweight people too.

Association
Back to Marisa. The main drive of her book is that everyone has the power to program themselves to reject food that makes you fat. She explains how you need to associate feelings of pain with food that is bad for you and feelings of pleasure with food that is good for them. For overweight people the opposite is true of course. When you feel a bit low you comfort eat. When you comfort eat you don’t do so on brocolli and sprouts – you eat chocolate, cakes, nachos and take-outs.

Marisa promotes a positive attitude using language. For example she tells you not to associate yourself with a cake by saying ‘my cake’: you say ‘the cake’. You tell yourself that you don’t need the food to fill any emotional void that you have. She encourages you to repeat the mantra “I am enough” to yourself. She doesn’t want you to say “I am starving”. She wants you to say “I could eat now”. The reason? The brain interprets and processes information, it doesn’t reason. So if you tell your brain that you are starving then it will believe you and before you know it you’re eating more food than you need.

Pleasure and pain
She uses very logical explanations of why she believes her approach works and explains that very young children don’t eat excessively, usually picking at food, leaving half-eaten sandwiches lying around. There is nothing natural about overeating. Nor is there anything natural about comfort-eating: babies don’t eat when they are irritable or upset so why should we as adults?

Marisa explains how our brain associates “pain” with certain foods. For example if you find a piece of cheese with mould on it, you won’t eat it because to us it’s disgusting. If you got food poisoning on shellfish, you will be reluctant to eat it again because you’ll remember what happened last time you had it.

But how about eating “unthinkable” things like insects and animal organs – who would do that? Well the celebrities who go on these reality shows would. They change their behaviour within a few days and do so because they associate “pain” with failing a task in front of their peers and television audience and associate “pleasure” with achieving and winning food for their camp or whatever.

You Can Be Thin
I’ve only read a few chapters of “You Can Be Thin” (look the graphic designers underlined it on the cover too) but it reminded me of how I shed (Marisa says we’re not use negative words like “loss”) weight and have maintained it since. In June 2000 at the age of 26 I was 196 lbs. I was struggling to fit in to a 36″ waist and was desperately unhappy.

Now I had tried gyms before but I was not fond of the process and was never that overweight that it realy mattered too much if I lost weight or not. But now I was feeling rock bottom. I sat in the manager’s ofice and he asked me why I wanted to join (I didn’t realise I had to pass a test to get in). “I”m sick of looking like this,” I replied, grabbing a handful of fat from my stomach just incase he hadn’t noticed it.

Have you seen my six inches?
Over the next nine months I lost over 40 lbs to settle at 154 lbs (and indeed the following year I dropped to 147 lbs for a short while) and could comfortably wear 30″ waist jeans (cue “six inch” joke). Everyone who saw the change in me was complimentary and excited. The more positive people were, the more motivated I became. But how did I do it? People in work had tried to lose weight and I had observed them over a period, unimpressed by their efforts to be frank. Eating bagles is healthy: eating bagles packed with bacon and cream cheese is not. Exercising at a medium intensity for 30 minutes a day is beneficial: ambling along on a treadmill at 5km an hour and reading a newspaper is not.

This is where the link with Marisa’s book comes in and inspired me to write about my own experiences. Reducing (euphamisms, eh?) weight was never about dieting for me even though that’s probably what I called it at the time. It was a lifestyle change, accepting that I couldn’t do the things I used to do. There were no more sweets, chocolates or crisps, no more big meals. For me this food was associated with the old me and it affected me in a way that I didn’t like – it made me fat.

Exercising
I made the choice to work out religiously, even when it hurt. I used to go to the gym after work, three to four days a week. I remember going there on the bus, sleeping on the way and arriving at the gym absolutely exhausted. But adrenalin took over and once I got on that treadmill the challenge for me was to do my 10km in 45 minutes and then beat that time the next day until I reached a point I knew was more or less my physical peak.

I did my floor exercises knowing that each stomach crunch was toning my body. I did my weights knowing that my metabolism was speeding up the more muscle I had.

Eating healthy
During the day I was eating helathily, eating smaller meals and rejecting sugary drinks or sweets. I worked a policy of having one day a week put aside for “treats”, whether that be drinking or perhaps having a Chinese or something. But having said that there were numerous nights when I was out drinking with friends and I made a concious decision to forego the fast food joint on the way home. The next day I would be up, hangover or not, and I’d be running again.

Now these days I’m not quite so good at this and I think that’s why I thought the book would be interesting. Although my weight is still in the zone – usually between 154-160 lbs – nearly 8 years later I know I could do better and could be fitter. I’m 34 years age and the body doesn’t stand up to such rigorous training any more. It could aslo be medically argued that my metabolism is naturally slower than it was when I was 26.

Choices
All this means that I need to take stock of what I really want in life. Do I want to run another marathon? Yes. Do I want to maintain my 30″ waist? Yes. Do I want to be healthy and live longer? Yes. Do I want to feel good and sexy? Yes. Do I want to look in the mirror, lick my lips and go ‘looking good, tiger’? Um, maybe.

There’s no contest for me. Marisa says it in the book and I have to agree. People make excuses all the time for not being able to lose weight – no time to exercise, I’ve tried but diets don’t work for me, my metabolism is to blame, I eat junk food with my partner and he/she doesn’t put on weight. These are all excuses and if they sound familiar to you then they are holding you back. With the exception of one or two disorders such as having an underactive thyroid, there is a very simple formula to weight loss: you burn more calories than you take in.

Figures vary but they say men can have 2400 calories a day, women 2000 a day. The figures aren’t that important because they indicate that you are “dieting” and, as I said, they don’t work. Everyone knows what sort of food is good for them and what sort of food is bad for them.

Unthinkable
Look, here’s a prime example from my life. Every cup of coffee or tea that I had was accompanied by two spoonfuls of sugar. Every sandwich (otherwise healthy) had butter in it. It was unthinkable that I could survive without both condiments. But when my weight loss slowed down in January 2001 and I was stalled at 168 lbs, I decided to be even stricter with my diet. So I quit the sugar and I quit the butter. Now if someone puts sugar in my coffee I could throw up. It’s hard to believe that I used to drink it like that: I simply changed my mindset.

The same with butter. When I tell people that I don’t take butter at all, they think I’m mad. But it turns my stomach. I used to put butter on my chips (“fries”) and now I can’t look at it.

You are in control
This is exactly the approach that Marisa refers to: you change the way you think about food. For me butter and sugar made me fat. So I stopped using them and I’ll never go back. Marisa expands on this: she claims she’ll get you to think that about all high-fat foods and that you’ll never want cake or chocolates again. Sounds ridiculous, right? Yeah well I thought that about sugar and butter.

You’re probably reading this thinking “Oh no, I like chocolate too much”. But that’s because you’re telling yourself that you do. You can like or dislike anything you want to. You control your cravings, it’s not the chocolate controlling you.

“Fat Pride”
When Marisa was on the radio this guy texted in and said “I’m 5′ 3″, I weigh 224 lbs, my girlfriend loves me the way I am and I’m proud of it!” Marisa’s answer was restrained in that she said being happy was important but you have to consider your health. I find it frustrating when people flaunt their “bigness” and declare how proud they are. I suppose it’s a sign of how downtrodden they must feel. It reminded me of gay and black pride marches – two groups marginalised in certain societies.

Being “proud” of obesity (which, unless he’s a rugby player and all muscle, is what a 5’3″, 224 lb man would have to be considered) is nothing but stubborness. It’s the sign of someone who is fed up with the criticism, the disparaging looks and the feelings of alienation and is using pig-headedness as a weapon. Accepting yourself is good but accepting yourself for the wrong reasons is not. Being obese is bad for you, it’s unhealthy and unattractive. Now you might raise your eyebrows at that last part but whether you like it or not – and Marisa says this too – this is a society where people are judged on appearance. If I got a kick out of dressing up like a medeival warrior I’d have to accept that society would reject that and I wouldn’t get a job.

What’s stopping you?
I sent around a MySpace survey perhaps 8-10 months ago and one of the questions on it was “What one thing would you like to change about yourself?”. A large percentage of people said “lose weight”. I was tempted to, but didn’t, ask each of those people what was holding them back? So perhaps I’ll ask you now: what is holding you back?

The answer (although invariably it’s not the one I’ll get back) is nothing. Nothing can stop you losing weight. You just need to eat the right food and eat smaller portions. You need to exercise at a medium intensity several times a week and you need to focus on how these changes will make you happier.

They made me happier and I know there are some of my friends out there who have had a similar experience. I had no confidence when I was overweight but I am quite self-confident now. I became more social, more friendly and stopped hiding from people in social situatons.

Cliche alert
Life truly is too short to not be happy in yourself. If you are one of the many people out there who want to lose weight then do it, it’s not easy to begin but once you start it will become habitual. It quite honestly can change your life.

Look at it this way. If you said on January 1st that you wanted to lose weight and by July 1st you have done absolutely nothing to achieve it, you have wasted six months. In that time you could realistically have lost 30-40 lbs by simply changing your eating habits and exercising. You can do it. I believe in ya.