Welcome September!  With cooler weather around the corner, where are your skinny jeans?  More importantly, do they fit?  Here’s a very cool suitcase–packing trick for travelers (especially for missionaries and college students) a marvelous new mantra, and a healthy-living ABC poster to print so that they will!

I had a hard time believing my dear friend Mary Ellen as she told me how her son, a cello major, flew across the country to start college with just one (one!) suit case and his cello.  “Only Phillip!” I laughed as she explained the process: 1) Neatly fold clothing and stack into a large black plastic trash bag until it is half to three-fourths filled. 2)  Insert a regular household vacuum hose (minus the head attachment) into the bag.  3) Very tightly gather the open end of the bag around the neck of the hose and grip firmly to create a seal.  4) Turn on the vacuum and continue to grip  the hose and bag while the hose sucks the air out of the bag. It will all shrink wrap before your eyes. Move the nozzle to different areas in the bag to get out more air. 5) When it stops shrinking ( by at least half and probably quite a bit more), quickly slip the bag off the vacuum and close with a knot or a twist-tie, like you do a balloon.


With my own four BYU-Idaho college kids to get across country  (we’ve added a beautiful daughter-in-law this summer who is also a student), I couldn’t wait to give this a try.  They all rolled their eyes and skeptically murmured “Oh, MOM! We’ve seen that infomercial and we don’t have the vacuum or the bags!” as we waded through bedrooms with half-filled suitcases and way too many clothes piled everywhere. I persisted as I sent one of them off for the vacuum.

Did it work?  I wish you could have seen the looks on these young adult faces as the phrase “Marvelous work and a wonder” came to my mind. Each bag was indeed reduced to one-fourth its original size.  It works especially well for bedding and pillows.  “Gosh! How I wish I’d know about this when I was a missionary!” observed one son, while the other rejoiced that he does have this excellent resource for his own upcoming mission. The girls, with their bigger wardrobes, were even more excited about what they can now fit into a suitcase.

Back to us and matters of weight management: Wouldn’t it be great if there was a similar quick-trick to use when we’ve put on a few pounds?  Something that reduced our size, waists, hips and thighs in the quick flip of a switch?  I’m speaking for myself after a summer with the many celebrations and food from my son’s wedding and all the parties, a family reunion and an extended trip to New Zealand to meet a new granddaughter. Of this trip, I can personally attest to why the per capita consumption of ice cream in New Zealand is among the highest in the world:  It is simply unbelievable with more flavors than Americans can ever imagine.

Though the medical options that create weight loss in a hurry are sometimes the best personal option (and liposuction does indeed compare in some ways to a vaccum), for most of us the only way to a smaller size is the one we already know:  Less of the wrong foods and more of the right ones.  Less sitting and more moving.  Less … and more, more or less!  Sadly, it all takes t-i-m-e, time.

The one thing we CAN switch in a heartbeat is how we feel about it and taking action!

Labor Day marks the end of the summer and as the children return to school, we can also go back to school and get a fresh start for health and weight loss through inspiration with poetry and some good old ABCs.

First the poem, a favorite of mine, especially appropriate for Labor Day. 

Psalm of Life ( by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait

Read that last line with me again:  “Learn to labour and to wait: … In other words, embrace the pace

These two inspiring calls to action (“embrace the pace” and “learn to labour and to wait”) stir my heart each time I say them.  Within those very few words are the story of not only a happy life, but a healthy life.  Learn to labour, (as in exercise and smart eating) and learn to wait patiently for  long-lasting results.  Embrace the pace (think the tortoise rather than the hare) for healthy living to become a true lifestyle rather than a quick diet and an attendant quick return to old ways.

This little poem is to memorize and carry in our hearts.  Carry it with a picture in your heart of yourself at your confident best in your skinny jeans, as you just walk on by the foods and situations that detour your healthy eating.  (I like to mentally imagine Dionne Warwick singing “Walk on By – Don’t stop!” for added will-power and some fun when faced with challenging food choices.)

Though I have included just the last stanza of this remarkable poem, you can CLICK HERE to read the rest.  Carry the thought “Embrace the pace” in your head while you read it, then carry it in your heart as you commence life this new September.

As an interesting side note for this poem, did you know that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a contemporary of Joseph Smith?  Born in 1807, just two years after the Prophet, the poet was from Maine, while the Smith Family was from Vermont. 

Now for some back to basics  ABC’s and 1-2-3’s
You can print out the following as a mini poster.  Just CLICK HERE


A = Create a positive ATTITUDE, eat Apples, ACT don’t react, Accountability

B = BELIEVE in yourself

C = Remember CONSISTENCY — not perfection!

D = DETERMINATION, desire, discipline make it happen

E = EXERCISE = energy, hard-boiled EGGS are great protein!

F = No more than 2 FRUITS, find FUN in activity

G = Eat lots of leafy GREENS (especially dark ones), reward

         small goals, and GO FOR IT!

H = HONESTY is the best policy, your HEALTH is worth it!

I = Say “I can do it!” “I am worth it” Remember: the

      difference between fat and fit is I!

J = JOURNAL, journal, journal to find JOY in success

K = KNOWLEDGE is power, KNOW the foods that detour you

       and KEEP them far away

L = LOSING weight to be healthy means LOVING yourself

M = Avoid MONOTONY using new recipes! Do new activities!

N = NEVER look back.  NO Guilt. Today is a NEW day!

O = OBTAINING health is an OPPORTUNITY, not a punishment

P = PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE, our PANTS are gonna fit!

Q = We’re QUEENS! We love quality over quantity!

R = We’re RESPONSIBLE. We Reward ourselves regularly.

S = SHUT DOWN the “SYE” Syndrome (you know, whenever
       we’re frustrated or bored we fall into “So You Eat” mode
T = TAKE TIME TO TRY something new, THINK and feel with your head and heart, not your mouth and food — not with your mouth

U = UNLOAD frustration on exercise, a journal, a friend  or a walk.


  All relieve stress better than food.


V = Provide VARIETY and moderation in all things


X = EXAMINE your motives.  There are many and they all count!
Y = YOU know what to do, so just do it!
Z = Every ZIPPER is going to slide like silk!  Zippity-Do-Dah!

Well, both the poem and the ABCs are a lovely breath of fresh air and some inspiration for a beautiful September.  Come on, now – go get those jeans! I’m going to! Let’s be brave and try them on.  If they don’t fit now, we’ll put them front and center in our closets and make a two-week commitment to embrace the pace with smart choices for two weeks.  I’ll be back with a new article and report on my own jeans and check in then with you then! 

Here are the links again:  POEM CLICK HERE and MINI-POSTER CLICK HERE

Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area.  Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available for free through the first of week of September from her website, www.MyMiracleTea.com or at Amazon.com  Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at  www.MyMiracleTea.com