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Welcome to the inside of my brain. Here, I share experiences, tips, tricks and fun things I've learned during my weight loss journey. 

  • Gail Ballin


It’s been awhile since I’ve written, but I’m on vacation this week so I have a little extra time on my hands. My daughter and I are spending a few days in Tallahassee visiting Florida State University. We did a Thelma and Louise and road tripped down, listening to and singing our favorite songs, catching up on the things we’ve missed because life has been so busy and just enjoying laughing together. We found a few spots along the way that we wanted to stop and visit on the way back or on a subsequent trip, but all-in-all, the 8 hours together, seemed like a few minutes. It’s amazing how enjoyable it was.

We set a few rules for our trip. Rule 1) we were going to move everyday. No matter how lazy we wanted to be, we committed to moving at least 30 minutes per day 2) we were not going to eat at any chain restaurants - only local venues because they have the best options and 3) we were going to chill out and let the stress of our everyday lives slip away for the next 6 days. Just the thought of it made us both let out a sign of relief.

The last few months have been trying. My workload has been insane and I’ve been under a tremendous amount of stress. My daughter has also been under a lot of stress with school. She’s a junior in high school and she’s been taking the SAT and the ACT, studying like a mad-woman and worrying about her future. This trip came at the right time for both of us.

We broke our first rule last night when we arrived late on Easter Sunday and were starving. Everything was closed and we wound up sharing a mediocre plate of what were supposed to be fajitas at Chili’s. I think we were better off just skipping dinner and going to bed.

We almost broke another rule this morning. My daughter was craving Nutella crepes from iHop. Now, this is not a restaurant that I ever eat at, but I was indulging her. We arrive and are seated by the biggest middle-aged airhead I’ve ever encountered. First, she gave our waters to another table. Then, she brought us coffee without milk - and when our coffee had cooled (and we were still waiting for the milk), she took our order. Juliana ordered her crepes. Ms. Airhead said “we don’t have crepes. We also don’t have onions, cheese, eggs….” The list went on and on. Juliana and I looked at each other with absolute astonishment. When I asked for clarification, she said that the food was being unloaded from the truck and that it would be awhile. We chose to leave. Mind you, we wasted 20 min of our day with this airhead. That’s when we realized that we should have stuck with our original plan. No chain restaurants!

We wound up a local place called The Bada Bean. Amazing coffee and great healthy options. We were very happy.

After breakfast, we headed over to campus. I did my research and thought I knew where to go, but when we arrived at the location noted by the GPS, it brought me to a grassy knoll. Clearly, this was not the visitor parking lot. I drove aimlessly through campus, looking for a place to park. I felt like a moron.

Eventually, a police officer pulled up behind us and I asked for directions. He was kind enough to give us an escort (without flashing lights - much to my dismay) to the visitor center, which was about 5 miles in the opposite direction from where we were. Clearly, my research was not fruitful.

The visitor center is located in the stadium, which is absolutely magnificent. We decided to take a self tour of the campus today. I wanted Juliana to get a feel for what it would be like to immerse herself in college life, so we walked every square inch of that campus. We visited lecture halls and sat in on classes, asked questions, saw the fitness center (if we could have taken a spin class, we would have!!). We went to the library and did some research and even went to the student union. The entire day was absolutely amazing.

We met one of our goals today, walking over 17,000 steps and 7+ miles today. It was a glorious day basking in warm Florida sunshine.

As wonderful as it was, it was also very hot towards the middle of the afternoon. We took a break and stopped at “The Sweet Shop” on Jefferson Street. It’s a charming little cafe’ that was established in 1924. The decor is rustic; the tables are wooden and the chairs are eclectic and varied. I could envision myself spending a lot of time here, studying or meeting friends if I was 30 years younger and back at school.

The menu offered every possible food and snack you could imagine. I ordered a honeydew and mango smoothie while Junie ordered a strawberry shake. After being outdoors in the heat all day, it was incredibly refreshing.

What I loved most about The Sweet Shop was that it was a haven for love, friendship and pride. The walls were filled with handwritten messages in all different colors and styles proudly announcing who had visited and the year they were there. The walls boasted of graduation years, told stories of friendships that would last lifetimes and shared the pride of sisters and brothers from fraternities and sororities. Hearts shared the names of lovers who were meant to be and who would be together forever. Well, maybe not all loves - I did notice a few hearts with names inside that were crossed out, but for the most part, you could feel the love all around you.

One message stood out in particular. It read “Brian Roulstone hearts Heather Mansfield ’95.” It was written in big blue block letters right above the window that we were sitting under. I pointed it out to my daughter and wondered if it was a love that lasted. Curious, I did a quick search on Facebook and long behold, there they were, Brian and Heather Roulstone with three beautiful children. To my surprise we also had a friend in common - a dear friend of my sisters who went to FSU with her. What a small world! The knowledge that those names on the wall made it to their happily ever after made me smile.

My daughter has a lifetime ahead of her. This trip is the start of an incredible voyage and although she’s not etching her future into the wall of ‘The Sweet Shop; the choices that she makes create a path to who she will become. I wonder what the years will bring, who she will become and how life will change her. She is incredibly strong, brilliant and hardworking. I have no doubt that she will accomplish anything she sets her mind to. While I’m excited to see what the future brings, I’m in no rush to get there.

I guess the moral to this story is that that sometimes life doesn’t always go as planned, but in the end, things end up as they should and just as they are meant to be.

The day went on and the adventure continued….but that’s for another blog :)

Bee healthy. Bee happy.

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