Birdie Shares a Giant Thank You and Motivational Message


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

Last week was Birdie Varnedore's time to shine. First, the 35-year-old SparkPeople member was featured in People magazine--in her bikini. Then, she went on Good Morning America to talk about her 140-pound weight loss--and she even mentioned SparkPeople.

Her whirlwind trip to New York behind her, Birdie has returned to her normal life in Orlando, as a neurologist and mother of five. As a way to say thank you for all your support and to answer your questions, Birdie wrote a guest blog post for the dailySpark. (She told us that she would love to answer each SparkPage comment, SparkMail and dailySpark blog comment personally, being a doctor and a busy mother of five doesn't leave much free time--especially when you're keeping up with regular strength and cardio workouts.

Before you read Birdie's heartfelt thank you and her brief interview with the dailySpark, check out this new video of her. ABC did a follow-up interview with Birdie and two other women who also lost 100-plus pounds and were featured in People, so be sure to click here and watch that!
By Birdie:

I wanted to thank everyone for all of the kind and positive comments. I am now certain that I made a good decision to come forward with my weight loss success. Unfortunately, I am back in the middle of my busy life right now. I'm working full time, trying to work out, and attempting to spend quality time with my husband and all of my children. I am going to read through each and every one of my comments and emails, but it will likely take me some time. The kids are all asleep now. I've worked a full day and I got in 40 minutes of cardio. I'm still tired from going to New York, but it was a successful day. Once again, thank you. Thank you! Thank you!

I did want to touch on the topic of motivation. SparkPeople really does have all of the tools you need to lose and maintain weight loss. What I mean by tools is that you can find out how many calories you need to eat per day and how to balance your nutrition. SparkPeople does have great emotional support as well, but sometimes that's not enough. I believe that I had an advantage in that I had/have a great support system. I have delegated many, many things in my life. For example, I do not do my own laundry. I do very little housecleaning as well. Obviously due to my work schedule, I have to arrange for childcare for my children. The list goes on. What does this have to do with motivation? Well... stress needs to be minimized in order to get to a place where you can even think about a selfish goal such as weight loss. Selfish? Well, it is in a way. But, it's a good selfish because it pays back to everyone that you took from. So, for example, the time that I spent working out and being selfish means that I can now outlast my kids when spending a day at an amusement park.

I've got to share a story. A few years ago, my husband and I took our kids to Sea World here in Orlando. We probably made it about two hours before we got in the car and headed home. Our oldest kids were devastated. They didn't understand why we were leaving so soon. We left because I was hot, sweaty, out of breath, and my thighs were rubbing together so hard that it hurt. I couldn't do it anymore. Sad but true. I'm sure others can relate. I was the mom that ruined all of the fun because I got too tired.

Back to motivation. The point is that you need support before you can even think about motivation. So, ask for help. Delegate responsibility. Ask your husband if he will watch the kids while you work out. Hire a high school kid to help you clean the house or do the laundry. Get creative. Finding the time doesn't have to involve money. Ask friends for advice. Perhaps they can see some opportunities to simplify your life that can't see. Sometimes someone looking from the outside in can get a clearer view of the picture. You have to clear the path. Make some room for your lifestyle change.

I do want to be a source of motivation. But, I am still learning how to maintain my weight. I still read almost all of my SparkMail. If not that day, I will read it at another time. I still read the entries in the dailySpark. I still read every SparkPeople Success Story that I can find. I will never stop seeking inspiration.

So, keep Sparking everyone. I'm in the trenches Sparking with you. Birdie

In addition to that inspirational message, Birdie gave us the scoop on what her trip to Good Morning America was like!

dailySpark: What was it like to meet Diane Sawyer?

Birdie: What you saw is what you got. I don't really feel like I met her. But, I admit I was totally not thinking about her at all. I was petrified that I was going to do something (for lack of a better word) stupid in front of millions of people. So, all I can say is that I was pretty nervous. As for Diane Sawyer...I do have to say that she has incredible legs.

dailySpark: What was your favorite part of your entire experience?

Birdie: I would have to say it was meeting new people. It was exciting to meet Rachael and Heather, the other women from the article that also lost over 100 pounds. They were very interesting and very real women who also have incredible stories to tell.

The behind the scenes look at Good Morning America was also pretty cool. There were household faces just walking around the halls at work just like normal people. I feel honored to say that I have been able to go into the GMA studio.

I also had a great time just hanging out with my husband, Nick. Time alone is precious and we enjoyed having a new experience together.

dailySpark: How did you stay on track when you traveled?

Birdie: Can I say that New York is cool! They have calorie counts on the menu at many restaurants as the result of a statewide law! Just like nutrition labels on food, I expect that one day calorie counts in restaurants will be a (nationwide) law as well. It's probably many years away, but I can only hope that it's sooner.

I found a cool item that was right under my nose. I've seen this before, but assumed it was off limits. Thanks to the NY law I found Starbuck's spinach, roasted tomato, egg and feta wrap for breakfast. It was listed at 270 calories in NY. So, paired with my SHORT skinny vanilla latte with 2 Splendas, it was delicious and a calorie bargain! Thanks, New York!

I went to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for lunch. The calorie counts were on the menu and the options were extremely poor. Most dishes were over 1,000 calories. I opted for a shrimp salad listed for about 550. I left a little on my plate hoping that I had about 400 calories.

I ate dinner another restaurant one night. No calorie counts on the menu! I had to improvise. I opted for barbecue chicken without the cheese and bacon and a plain baked potato instead of fries. I also split a grilled chicken salad with my husband as an appetizer. I had light dressing on the side. I didn't do dessert there. Options were horrible. I actually went to a drug store on the way back from dinner and picked up a pack of jelly beans worth about 200 calories.

I had a cheat meal in New York as well. I won't go into details, but I didn't count calories. So far I've been able to do this about 1-2 times per week and maintain. I'm keeping an eye on my indulgences, just to make sure I'm getting away with it.

Exercise was in the form of walking. We walked for miles and miles. It worked because I came home weighing less than when I went. So, it was a very successful trip!

dailySpark: Have people recognized you on the street?

Birdie: No. But, I've signed a few pictures at work!

If you missed Birdie's appearance in People magazine or on GMA, be sure to read these blog posts.

You can also watch her original video here! (Birdie is the second of three women featured in the video, and at the end of the segment, she shares her favorite SparkRecipe! Thanks in part to Birdie, Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken is atop the popular recipe list on SparkRecipes.)

Leave more positive comments for Birdie here!

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    Birdie, congratulations on your achievement. I missed seeing you on GMA, but the video clips are wonderful. Unfortunately, I didn't maintain my 100(plus) weight loss as well. So I joined Spark People to get motivated to lose the 60 lbs I gained back. With people like you to inspire me, I know I can do it! Thanks, and, again, congratulations. - 6/2/2009   9:26:36 PM
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    Birdie - You just reinforced that Sparkpeople - is a lifestyle change and is for life!
    We are proud of you! - 6/2/2009   9:21:40 PM
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    Congratulations and keep up the good work! - 6/2/2009   9:20:19 PM
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    I certainly can appreciate a busy schedule - thank you SO much for sharing this part of your journey with ALL of us!! - 6/2/2009   9:01:32 PM
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    Birdie, that was a wonderful blog. Your plan and suggestions were so Practical!!! I am so proud of you and you have put it out there for everyone to benefit from. Thank you so much.

    You taught me a lot. I have lost 123 pounds and am 62. I have 40 more to go and your article gave me a jolt and boost!! I can do it.

    Can't wait to see the video.

    Froggie Gramma - 6/2/2009   8:48:14 PM
    Birdie...congrats to you. I have been procratinating...but no more. I am starting on Monday for sure....I have my mothers 95th birthday this weekend so no sense straing now and setting myself up for failure. But this weekI have been watching what I eat and come Saturday and Sunday I will indulge somewhat but I am starting on Monday the 8th for sure!!!!!! - 6/2/2009   8:39:02 PM
    Wow. I saw the GMA segment and just now got to this blog. You are amazing. I hope to meet my goal this year and I will keep looking for restaurants to begin posting their calories on each menu item too. Not sure how far Texas will have this law in place but will start to look into it. Keep up the good work. - 6/2/2009   8:18:10 PM
    Hi Birdie,
    Thanks for your inspirational story! I have started out attempting to lose weight since Feb.2009 and have lost about 10 pounds. I have exercised every day until this last week-end. My bestfriend joined a weight loss program that includes medication and B12 injections-she also started in Feb.this year. She loses approx. 2-3 lbs. a week. She does watch her diet,but she doesn't exercise as much as I do. She has lost over 30 lbs. I am happy for her. I am not able to take these medications to help me lose weight. I was wondering how long it took you to lose your weight? Your story is truly inspirational-I understand that you have a busy life-yet maybe I could have a few tips from you? Did you have a personal trainer? How long did you work out each day? My bestfriend and I are RN's and any insight would help. Thanks!
    - 6/2/2009   7:24:19 PM
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    What a great success story you are, I applaude your conciounsious decisions when in New York with all the different wonderful foods to choose from. Your success is amazing and I know that you will continue to do fantastic.
    - 6/2/2009   7:21:09 PM
    What an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story. It is always a blessing to hear that it can be done and is being done everyday by women much like myself. I haven't been using spark as much as I should, but you have given me the push I needed to make as much use of this wonderful site as possible. - 6/2/2009   6:52:24 PM
    Thanks-I caught your interview on GMA and came home and signed up! I wouldn't have known about SparkPeople without you. Thanks again for sharing your great story. - 6/2/2009   5:51:43 PM
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    Good for you! Work it out! Congrats! - 6/2/2009   4:44:35 PM
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    Birdie, Congratulations on your success. You look awesome. Glad you had that wonderful experience to share your story and be an inspiration to others. - 6/2/2009   4:35:36 PM
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    Congratulations Birdie,
    I am a doctor too and a mother of three. I know how hard it is to juggle being mommy doctor and wife. Caring for others but never caring for yourself.
    I have been a spectator and its time for me to step up my game. you are an inspiration.
    Thank You - 6/2/2009   4:30:12 PM
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    Way to go Birdie! I'm glad you chose to share your story. Because of you, I feel inspired to get back on the calorie counting wagon again. Your family must be very special too! - 6/2/2009   4:29:36 PM
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    I just want to let you know how much you are inspiring me. I read your story in People, and it is one of the reasons that I came to the SP website to sign up. Thank you for sharing your weight loss experience with all of us. I am just getting started on my weight loss journey, and I hope to be successful like you one day soon!

    ~~Mary~~ - 6/2/2009   4:28:49 PM
    Congrats... I am starting my weight loss journey today.. I am glad I have found this site.. I have tried MANY MANY diets and failed. I am sure after reading your letters and seeing your before and after pic, that I too can do this. I have 4 children (9,7,6,4) and I want to lose 100 lbs.. I am start my journey today and and ready to look forward instead of back..

    Congrats again.. YOU look great. - 6/2/2009   3:16:10 PM
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    You do not have to reply to this. There are far too many of us for that.

    Thank you for making sure you mentioned in your interviews. I have watched several people now and no one seems to mention the program which is so important to their success. In many cases due to being cut off from giving the information. The program has helped thousands of people and it deserves the recognition.

    Congratulations! You are just another inspirational person from our ever growing group. Keep it up!

    (from Ontario, Canada) - 6/2/2009   2:33:08 PM
    Birdie, thanks so much for sharing your story.

    I joined Weight Watchers in Jan. of 2007, and lost 115 pounds--and I still was not at my goal weight, but my weight loss stalled. At the beginning of 2009, I found Sparkpeople after several months of real estate hell and serious weight stagnation. I have loved the more wholesome picture of my eating habits that SP gives me.

    When I began my weight loss journey I weighed 270, and today I weigh 183. I am still down over 85 pounds, but my journey has had its ups and downs. I have stopped looking for motivation to keep going--I like to think of it more like brushing my teeth. It doesn't excite me, I don't look forward to it, but I just keep doing it because I know it is good for me and it is part of my routine.

    Still, I like to find little things that keep me excited every now and then--the day I found SP was a pretty motivating day for me. Your story, too, really touched me and made me feel like the sky is the limit. That Starbucks wrap sounds pretty exciting to me right now--yum!

    I have 40 more pounds to go, but I've already lost 85. My battle is way more than half over. Thanks so much for the little boost to my day! You look wonderful. - 6/2/2009   1:42:14 PM
    I saw you on "Good Morning America". You were great. I had never heard of "Sparkpeople". I looked it up right after the show. I had been looking for something just like this, but was not sure if it actually existed. Something this great and informative and it's free! Again thank you so much for sharing this information with all of us. It is a wonderful website that I now visit everyday and enjoy all the e-mails of informative, helpful hints and encouragement that I get everyday. - 6/2/2009   1:37:08 PM
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    Hello Birdie this is Carrie, congratulations. Not only have you loss the weight you look toned and firm. You look awesome. You are a inspiration for me. I have 4 kids ages 6,7,7,11 and I am 33 and need to lose 60 pounds. I always wondered about the flab after the weight is gone. But you look so great I hope I will be just as firm and toned as you when the weight is off. Thanks for sharing your story and God Bless. - 6/2/2009   12:55:27 PM
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    Birdie, You truly are an inspiration to me for many reasons. I am a 33 yearold college student majoring in medicine my goal an Emergency Doctor; that alone I need to learn how to manage my lifestyle changes appropriately. You also are an inspiration because I too am starting where you did. Its nice to see the results do come. Thank You again!!! I will keep Praying for you. - 6/2/2009   12:44:21 PM
    Birdie, thank you for that, you just inspired me to continue on and loose the 45 more pounds that I need to get rid off. Some days it get so hard, but real people like you is motivational. THANKS GIRL FRIEND! - 6/2/2009   12:43:23 PM
  • DMP135
    Hi and thanks. I caught your video after following a T-Tapp link and was amazed
    at all of you. When you said Spark, I decided to revisit the site as I has used it a long time ago and it just never clicked. It is really wonderful now for what I am looking for and very full, featured- thanks so much for mentioning it on air. - 6/2/2009   12:39:55 PM
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    Wow Birdie you are my hero. What a magnificent success story and you are so modest about your accomplishment. This is by far the best blog I've ever read on spark and there have been many wonderful ones. (I've been a member since Dec 2007) You make me realize, while I've exercised more and have lost, I need to get busy and quit playing at it. Thank you for being such an inspiration. I do hope (without taking too much time from your awesome life) that you can find a bit of time to pop in a motivate too. (in your spare time, chuckle). Congratulations and thank you for making me realize the possibilities.
    Lee - 6/2/2009   12:30:52 PM
  • READY551
    You go girl! and congradulation on your weight loss. I saw and enjoyed your interview, and like what you said, I hope you continued success. - 6/2/2009   12:20:18 PM
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    I want to thank you for your courage in going public with your weight struggles. Because of you, and your appearance on Good Morning America, I learned about SparkPeople and joined the next day. The past week has been the start of what I believe to me a successful journey toward good health for me. The nutrition tracker has been an eye-opener for me and it's great to see how many calories I burn with a simple walk with my dog or after mowing the yard. I also love getting such positive and supportive email. Thanks again! - 6/2/2009   12:13:33 PM
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    Birdie, I so appreciate your telling us about delegating in order to meet your goals. Your story about your day at Sea World was very helpful in understanding how helping yourself really makes life better for your family too. I also appreciate your explanation of how much you still need and use the spark site. thanks so much for sharing your experience you inspire me. - 6/2/2009   12:09:35 PM
    What an inspiration! This came at just the right time, I have been having some motivation problems. Thank You!!! - 6/2/2009   11:23:07 AM
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    My schedule is not near as hectic as yours, I can certainly find time in my day! You really are an amazing inspiration! I love that you did this without surgery. It is a challenge and it's time for us to make time for ourselves. We women tend to put everyone first and ourselves last much to the detriment of everyone. Thank you for sharing your story. - 6/2/2009   11:18:34 AM
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    Have you been back to Sea World? I agree, weight loss is a selfish goal. I am enjoying this selfish time. Right now this is what matters to me most. Losing weight and improving my quality of life.

    "I celebrate me..." Walt Whitman - 6/2/2009   11:06:56 AM
    Birdie, What a wonderful inspirational woman you are. Thanks for showing the rest of us it can be done. - 6/2/2009   10:59:56 AM
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    Congratulations Birdie, on your weight loss. You are definitely an inspiration to a lot of people. Because of your hard work and dedication to losing the weight, many of us will ride your coat tails, until we too, lose the weight we desire. Thank you for sharing your success with us. - 6/2/2009   10:46:50 AM
    Hey Birdie! Thank You so Much for what you've done for me. I saw you on GMA and was so impressed by you and when you mentioned this program, I just had to check it out. I had never heard of it before. I started last week after seeing you and I have already lost 4 pounds. All I'm doing different is tracking my food which makes me more accountable for what I put in my mouth. Congratulations!! - 6/2/2009   10:39:29 AM
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    Thank you Birdie for having a desire to respond to all of our comments to your blog. But I realize that the life of a working wife and mom is full; so, just continue to take care of yourself and let that Spark shine. - 6/2/2009   10:38:17 AM
    You are fantastic and you were my "Spark", I usually don't have the TV on but long story but I did and I heard you mention SparkPeople and here I am and I believe I'm hooked and hopefully will soon be twenty lbs lighter.
    Thanks again for being my "Spark"
    Dena - 6/2/2009   10:35:51 AM
    Hey Birdie,
    Saw you on GMA and thought you looked great, started a plan and stickin to it. I also have 5 children living in my house,they seem to like the new healthy food I prepared and I already see results and energy has increased.Still weak when it comes to cigarettes,but stronger with diet and exercise,anyway Thanks a bunch for putting yourself out there!! - 6/2/2009   10:30:29 AM
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    greatachievement - 6/2/2009   10:08:29 AM
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    Thank you for being a Sparkpeople Motivator. - 6/2/2009   10:00:04 AM
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    Congrats!!! Doesnt being healthy feel great!! Keep up the fantastic job!! - 6/2/2009   9:59:49 AM
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    A BIG THANK YOU!!!! You are an Inspiration and we still need you as you look to us. I can relate to getting to tired and spoiling fun...been there too.
    Keep up the great job and hugs to all of you. My husband and I are in SP together taking one day at a time.
    All the Best
    Donna - 6/2/2009   9:59:04 AM
    Congratulations on the weight loss! Birdie you look great! - 6/2/2009   9:53:33 AM
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    We fellow SPARKERS are so proud of you! Pat - 6/2/2009   9:23:32 AM
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    I saw you on TV and heard you mention Spark.. I was like... "I do that!" Congratulations on your success. You deserve it! - 6/2/2009   9:21:00 AM
    You look fabulous, and so young !! Your story is a inspiration to many people out there. I bet you have all the energy now ! love lots xo - 6/2/2009   9:20:57 AM
    Your story is great. You are an inspiration to all of us. Thank you very much - 6/2/2009   9:20:10 AM
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    What an inspiration. With your busy job and 5 kids, you did it! You give hope to all people with jobs and families to stop making excuses and to start losing weight! Thank you!! - 6/2/2009   9:18:02 AM
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    You are an inspiration! - 6/2/2009   9:10:16 AM
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    Congratulations on the weight loss! You rock! - 6/2/2009   9:04:33 AM
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    Congratulations on the weight loss! You rock! - 6/2/2009   9:04:32 AM

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