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5 year Sparkiversary

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Tuesday after Easter (4/6/10) I logged into Sparkpeople and began using the site to lose weight (I created my ID the week prior, but didn't use it until after the holiday). It’s five years later and again happens to be the week after Easter. It’s been quite a journey.

The losing
I lost 45 pounds in the first six months on SP. Then, in early October 2010, I found out that I was pregnant. Happy times! In those six months I learned a lot about myself and about SP (more about that later - or you can jump down to the lessons learned now).

The pregnancy
I mostly kept my weight under control during my pregnancy. I did gain some weight but nothing too horrible. I managed to be somewhat physically active and my doctors were happy with my numbers (weight, blood pressure, etc.) throughout the pregnancy.

The first 1.5 years after birth
It took me forever to get back on track. During that time we did the typical newborn stuff. We also did the house hunting and buying thing, did a big school search and my oldest to started kindergarten, our youngest had surgery, and we spent a bunch of time painting, cleaning, landscaping, and prepping our old house for sale. Lots going on but no real reason why I couldn’t get it in gear.

The time until now
My husband has been on drugs for depression. He’s had some very good times and some very bad times. In the fall of 2013 he decided to stop taking his drugs for depression. At that point I had gotten to where I had lost 45 pounds (twice). While my husband has struggled with his depression I have regained A LOT of weight. There are many days where he is only able to sit in his chair. The last 6 weeks or so have been better as he is back on drugs and they are messing around with the doses. A lot has been going on at work, at home, and church with my family, and so on……but there is no excuse.

For my SP anniversary I went back to my SP Starting Class team to see who is still active. Our SP team says there were 13,363 members. I think there’s only one or two people that are active today (with the same SP account). I went through the list of members and person after person had status updates of January 2012 or January 2011. Lots of Sparkpages no longer exist. I wonder if these people met their weight/health goals and moved on, or if they gave up. I suppose I will never know. I do miss “talking” to some of them.


So I went back and copied this things I “learned”. I need to recommit to these and learn them again. The process needs to start over. Carpe Diem!!


1. Decide to be Happy.
There are a lot of grumpy people in the world. A lot of negative people. A lot of people that don’t want to see you happy. Ignore them. You don’t need a lot of things or a lot of prestige or a lot of money to be happy. Just decide to be happy and content with where you are now in life. You always can decide to make changes to make your life better, but understand that you can be happy at the same time. Look on the bright side of life. Celebrate small victories. Find the silver lining. At the least, remember that it could be worse. If you’re in a dark place now, see that tomorrow will be better and the day after will get even easier. I think what got me on track before is that I decided to be happy. Each time I got grumpy or stressed I stopped and decided I wouldn’t let it get to me.


2. Start NOW.
If you fall off the wagon, get back on NOW. I was one of those people that would pick the upcoming Monday or beginning of the month or some other future date as when I would get serious again about being healthy. If I ate a donut or a cookie then I’d fall completely off the wagon and set a new future start date. In the meantime, I would eat a ton of those foods I thought that I wouldn’t be able to have once I was being healthy. I’ve learned that there’s no time like the present. Don’t wait. There’s no perfect time to start but now. If you fall off the wagon for breakfast; eat a healthy lunch and go for a little walk. Get back into the swing of things right away and pat yourself on the back for getting back up so quickly. Don’t cry over eating the donut, celebrate the healthy lunch and move on.


3. There is no food that is off limits.
In fact, the only thing that I cannot do is eat unlimited quantities. No mindless grazing. No pigging out and worrying about it tomorrow (see item #1). Be mindful and understand trigger foods and trigger situations. Part of the reason I don’t worry over a donut or a cookie is that I know I can eat some of that stuff and stay within my calorie range. Now I’m not proclaiming a person should eat all junk food and just stay within their calorie range; but also I do not believe I can ever be a person that goes without some sweets and/or junk food. Everything in moderation.


4. You can eat A LOT more food than you thought.
I always thought that women were supposed to eat very little per day. On previous health kicks I’d eat what I thought women were “supposed” to eat, only to spend most of my time starving and unable to stick with the plan. Small breakfast, little lunch, lots of salads and fruits but little substantive protein or grains. It wasn’t that I was trying to lose weight really quickly, I just thought this is what I was “supposed” to do. Since I’m on the taller side (5’ 9’), my thoughts were way off base. Using the SP nutrition trackers I calculated how many calories I could eat to maintain weight once I’m at my goal weight. My future calories needs are within my current weight loss range. There is a HUGE difference between that and what I thought I was supposed to do. I really feel like I can stay at that calorie range comfortably for the rest of my life. So there’s no starvation diet to then transition to “normal” eating. This IS normal eating.


5. You will not lose weight in a straight line.
As I was losing weight, there were weeks where the scale would not move down like I expected based on my calories and exercise. Then all of a sudden it would make a big move down that I really didn’t feel like I earned. I do weigh myself regularly however that’s not the real measure of my effort. I don’t get upset when the scale is not moving as I would like it. I don’t control that number and that number should not control me.


6. You need to set health goals that are not based on the scale.
My goals need to be set based on actions I can control. How often did I eat within calories? How many calories did I burn with exercise? How much water did I drink? How many steps did I get in that day? Setting this type of goal for me has been a great help. These are items I can control. I cannot control water retention or other factors that could impact the number on the scale. But if I set reasonable goals for calories, exercise, and nutrition then the weight loss will come along in turn.


7. It is as important to get up and move throughout your day.
You don’t have to confine your movement to the time in your day when you put on a pair of shorts and jump on some piece of exercise equipment. Make time to get some fresh air. Do wall pushups in the bathroom. Take a couple extra flights of stairs. Park further away. Just spend a little time very day to get off the couch, away from the computer and the TV and the books. It’s amazing what you’ll see and who you’ll meet. You’ll feel better about life. I don’t believe that this extra exercise will really make a difference in the pounds from a calories burned perspective, but it will make a difference in how you feel about yourself and your day. If you’re having a good day then you’re more likely to eat less and exercise. It’s a frame of mind thing.


8. Music is awesome
Music can be a great motivator and pick-me-up. I have an “emergency” play list on my computer to keep me in a good mood. A good song can keep you humming all day like a piece of chocolate cannot (though I do love chocolate). Music can make you exercise harder and enjoy it more. Music can turn house chores into an enjoyable activity (except for cleaning toilets- nothing helps me with that!).


9. Tell yourself what you would tell your best friend
We are mean to ourselves. We need to think about how we would support of best friends in the same situation. Maybe that is tough love and maybe it is just love, but it likely is not nearly as mean as we talk to ourselves. I’m not saying we should make excuses for ourselves. We just shouldn’t be mean either.


10. Figure out what things make you happy and do them often.
Whether it is playing with your kids, a particular hobby, or just getting some “me” time. Figure out what things you enjoy in life and schedule them in. Make sure to take time to appreciate and enjoy these activities.


11. Spend your TV time wisely
There are only two ways I watch TV. One is to watch sporting events with my family or kids shows before bed. The other is while I’m exercising. I love my DVR and I avoid commercials whenever possible. Now part of what I look forward to when exercising is the TV I get to watch. If you find yourself saying that you don’t have time to do something, then review your TV watching habits (or your internet surfing habits).


12. Tracking is very important
I track my streaks. I track my days per year to meet goals (so all is not lost if I have to start a streak over). Not only have I been able to track a great exercise streak this year, my eating has been OK even though I’ve missed that goal for several days.


13. Motivate yourself
Read other blogs. Read motivational SP stories. Find motivational quotes online. Do some of the motivational activities recommended by SP: a letter to your future self, update your vision collage, set goals and set a reward schedule. Reward the little things just like the big things and reward Non Scale Victories as well as weight loss. Find stories and metaphors that work for you and keep you on track (if you are in need of some I have a few go to images and analogies I reference from time to time).


14. Really, it’s not that big of a deal.
Many of us have been at this losing weight and getting in shape game for years. If we had been losing even a pound every week in that time, we’d be in great shape now. Falling down is not failure. Staying down and giving up is failure. Just keep at it. Often the things that make us mad or stressed today won’t even be remembered in a year from now. The most important thing is that you never give up. You’ll need to tweak your program from time to time, but that doesn’t mean you give up. Anything worth having is worth working for.


15. Think and plan.
Be mindful in your eating. Be mindful in your life. Plan ahead where you can. Have a Plan. Have a Plan B. If Plan B doesn’t work, remember there are 24 more letters in the alphabet so keep trying. Every failure and stumble is an opportunity to learn and improve.


I think #10 is most important. What thing gets you so excited that you jump out of bed in the morning knowing that you get to do that today? I promise you that it’s not watching TV. What makes you light up? Find that.
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