Give the Gift of Better Health


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  76 comments   :  17,068 Views

By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)

This season is a great time to think about what giving really means. Is giving limited only to things we can wrap in elegant papers and adorn with bows? In the truest sense of the season, the gift of oneself is the highest gift one has to offer.

Giving yourself the gift of fitness and good health this year can better your life in so many ways. You can provide a positive influence and be a role model to your family. You can improve your health and be around longer to spend quality time with family and friends. Your self confidence and self esteem can be discovered and lead you down the path to your dreams. You can enjoy active family time with your children. The possibilities are endless.

A gift for the family that will keep on giving year round is a gym membership. Yes, they can be expensive, but some do have a sliding fee scale such as your local YMCA. You might choose a summer-only membership or just one for the winter months to save money. Find out what options are available to you in your area. Other gyms may have specials, which you can cash in on, especially around the first of the year. The new year promotions for gym memberships are usually very good.

If a gym membership is too costly, consider investing in a few pieces of home equipment. A stability ball, kettle bell, hand weights, resistance band, yoga mat, or any combination of those will make a fine present for yourself or someone else. The SparkPeople Store carries a fitness starter kit that has everything you need to get going at a very reasonable price, and no membership fee required.

Think of the positive influence you could provide your family by keeping good foods in the house, eating healthy and exercising. Thatís a gift of a lifetime of good habits. Learning to make healthy decisions naturally will help keep your family from suffering a slew of health conditions related to unhealthy choices.

Numerous health conditions can improve with regular exercise and good nutrition. In fact, complications and even some lifestyle diseases can be avoided with careful management of diet, exercise and medications in many cases.

Since I started to lose weight, I've been able to lower my daily insulin intake. I have even lowered my blood pressure and cholesterol to normal levels. I hope to be around a lot longer and have more time to spend with my wonderful family and friends because of taking a proactive approach to my health.

I have something else that I didnít before, self esteem and confidence. These things came from seeing myself do things that I didnít know I could do. Truthfully, before I found, I had lost all hope. I really didnít believe SparkPeople could help me, but I gave it a shot with a few SparkStreaks. Seeing myself succeed made me want to succeed more. It wasnít about a being on a diet or off of a diet any more, it was about being in control of my dreams, my destiny, and making choices on my terms. I found that sticking to my Spark People program, or close to it, gave me a sense of security and control in the midst of disarray. This newfound confidence and self esteem helped me find the courage to go back to work from disability, make it from bedridden to a wheelchair, to a walker and then a cane, and take control of many other aspects of my life.

My husband loves my healthier lifestyle. He was really afraid I wasnít going to be around much longer when I weighed 460 pounds. Now Iím 144 pounds thinner and he knows I am well on my way to being with him for a long time to come.

The gift of better health benefits not only the person getting healthy, but also those around them and it is a very valuable one. Consider giving yourself the gift of health and fitness this year, and those who love you will also get a gift that keeps on giving.

Last year and this year, my nephew Josh and I made home made cards for everyone. We also had a cookie baking day, but only one. We made cards for several days and had lots of fun doing it. He seemed to actually have more fun making cards than baking cookies. It definitely held his attention more. Josh and I also encourage each other to exercise and eat right. We are great influences on each other and give each other the gift of encouragement. We always spend the holidays together, but for the past couple of years, Josh and I have focused on healthier traditions. Just look at the difference a few years can make!

Us in 2005

Josh and me this year

Are you giving yourself (and your loved ones) the gift of your better health this year?

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    You look great!!! Keep up the good work - you really inspire me to do better on my weight loss journey. - 10/31/2011   10:38:30 AM
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    Great job Beth!!! You are amazing. - 1/9/2011   12:03:45 PM
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    Hey, gorgeous! Keep up the good work! You are an inspiration! - 12/24/2010   10:50:27 AM
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    What a wonderful story! You look great and I can tell your family is super proud of you. Congratulations on all the hard work.
    - 12/21/2010   1:44:43 PM
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    Wow! and Wow again, and again, and again. - 12/21/2010   11:57:20 AM
    wOw! Faaaaan-tastic!! This is a true GIFT for your loved ones!!

    psst..u look great too!!

    cheers to that - 12/20/2010   6:48:40 AM
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    Yes I am!!! - 12/20/2010   12:49:02 AM
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    Fantastic!WOW! You ARE giving yourself & your family the gift of health!:) - 12/20/2010   12:38:03 AM
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    Beth, you are a true inspiration to so many. You look fabulous and look forward to meeting you in May!!! Merry Christmas! - 12/19/2010   7:43:51 PM
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    Beth, You always seem to know just what I need to hear. Thank you my dear friend. Keep up the fantastic work and whenever you want to see the DC area, just let me know and we will have a great time. - 12/19/2010   4:15:06 PM
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    You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story. Keep on your fantastic journey! - 12/19/2010   3:35:19 PM
    GREAT GOOD FOR YOU - 12/19/2010   10:43:34 AM
  • 64
    Congratulations on your weight loss. Keep up the good work. Your article serves as an inspiration to me. - 12/19/2010   9:30:26 AM
  • 63
    You are a GREAT inspiration to all of us! Be PROUD of yourself and keep up the good work :) - 12/19/2010   8:02:29 AM
    To answer your question... YES! A few months ago I gave up all sugar, sweetener and processed foods. I knew it would be tough to do around the holidays but I am finding it surprisingly a lot easier than the guilt of eating bad food knowing I shouldn't, know what I mean?

    You are truly an inspiration. Giving the gift of health and wellness to yourself is one of the best gifts of all! - 12/19/2010   7:49:45 AM
  • 61
    Thanks for the blog! Great job! Happy Holidays! - 12/19/2010   1:42:29 AM
  • 60
    Your story is so inspiring, congratulations on the weight loss and for having such a great goal for yourself. I hope you have a merry Christmas! - 12/18/2010   11:30:13 PM
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    Wow, you look amazing. Great job! Best Wishes on future success! - 12/18/2010   12:43:41 PM
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    My husband bought the family a Wii for Christmas. We opened it early, and I bought the Wii fit plue balance board. I will start on it, as soon as I can get the rest of the family off of the wii..hahaha
    Thanks for sharing and you are looking GREAT!! - 12/18/2010   6:03:07 AM
    GREAT Blog, loved the before and after photos. ( : - 12/17/2010   9:36:46 PM
    Congratulations!! You look great!! I really enjoyed your blog!! You and Josh look so happy!! That is great!! Have a Merry CHRISTMAS: and a happy, healthy New Year!! Thank You for sharing with us!! You gave a AWESOME GIFT!! I bet it was fun making cards!! - 12/17/2010   8:53:37 PM
  • 55
    Thank you for this post! I love the idea of giving the gift of health over the holidays, and the story of how your SparkPeople journey has impacted you and your family is inspiring. What a beautiful picture of you and Josh - you look great and both so happy. :) - 12/17/2010   8:13:28 PM
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    Yes, as a matter of a fact I am giving a healthier "me" as a gift to those I love this year. Congratulations on your own gift of health to your loved ones! - 12/17/2010   6:09:02 PM
    Loved the blog, thank you. - 12/17/2010   5:57:51 PM
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    OOPS! - 12/17/2010   3:56:48 PM
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    I'm indirectly giving my cousin the gift of good health. Right now, she isn't ready to make a commitment to her health. In past, I've given her books on health, fitness, etc... She never read them. So, this year, I'm giving my cousin a crock pot and cook book. I'd like to think this will help learn to cook. It's a great way to save money and learn to create her own, healthy, tasty meals.

    I hope she likes it.

    Wonderful blog as always !!

    - 12/17/2010   11:29:43 AM
  • 49
    That's awesome! Thanks for sharing. How inspirational! - 12/17/2010   11:23:11 AM
  • 48
    So much insight. Thanks for writing. - 12/17/2010   11:12:42 AM
  • 47
    Wow keep up the great work! You are an inspiration. - 12/17/2010   11:01:15 AM
  • 46
    Wow, such an wonderful story and what an accomplishment for you! How fantastic. And, boy, does Josh love his Aunt Beth! - 12/17/2010   9:15:10 AM
  • 45
    Excellent! I am posting this on Facebook to share with my friends. :) - 12/17/2010   9:07:31 AM
  • 44
    Congradulations , you look great. Loved your blog.
    Yes my family is healthier this year - 12/17/2010   8:17:06 AM
  • 43
    I love the fact that your young nephew is health-concious and that you encourage each other. My son came home from College for Christmas break with a new healthy attitude toward eating and that is helping me alot this season. I was planning to prepare his traditional (fattening) favorites for the Holiday, but he doesn't want them. We are being examples for each other!
    You look wonderful, by the way. Merry Christmas. - 12/17/2010   8:13:33 AM
  • 42
    that is SO great! I love that you have found a way to keep the fun in the holidays and the importatn aspects of your traditions but make them healthier and not so food based! That is a great thing for younger children to learn too! My husband and I try to give each other healthier things: this year he gave me all new rock climbing gear for Xmas (I got to break it out early to make sure it fits) and for my birthday he got me p90x -- two things I have really wanted. And for him I got a couple pairs of new jeans and new peacoat so he can be proud of the body he's working on! :) - 12/17/2010   3:43:09 AM
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    My highest weight ever was 214# and I was so miserable with my back hurting me all the time, and my feet so swollen that I could hardly get shoes on them. So, I certainly am thrilled to see you working on your goal, as I know at 460# you had to be in pain. I know in 2011 you certainly will get to your goal. Bless your heart. - 12/17/2010   12:32:16 AM
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    Beth...The gift of health is priceless! Thank you for your inspiring words that keep the rest of us going... - 12/16/2010   11:07:04 PM
    WAY TO GO! HAPPY HOLIDAYS.KEEP IT HEALTHY. - 12/16/2010   10:29:05 PM
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    Indygirl. You should be so proud of you and your family. Wow what a difference 5 years make. You sure have a handsome young man for a nephew. God Bless You all. Sue - 12/16/2010   10:25:59 PM
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    Love the photo with you and Josh! Happy Holidays to the entire family! - 12/16/2010   10:23:03 PM
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    Congratulations on your success this year. You look so happy! - 12/16/2010   10:12:14 PM
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    This is a great blog-thank you for sharing! You are definitely a different person on the outside and I'm sure on the inside as well. Congrats and many blessings as you continue you SP journey! Isn't it great to finally see the people God created us to be? - 12/16/2010   9:40:07 PM
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    Beth every day you inspire me to keep going on this journey by reading your page and all your blogs you have really made a diffrence in my life and I am truely blessed to have you as a Spark friend. Happy Holidays. - 12/16/2010   8:12:50 PM
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    Congratulations, what a great story and even greater event for you.
    Inspirational for us all.
    - 12/16/2010   7:31:48 PM
    That was just such a great inspiration, thank you, and I agree, you just look awesome! You glow now! Thanks again!! - 12/16/2010   6:56:59 PM
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    Yup-been giving it to myself all year! Also have have maintained our membership at the Y so the whole family can be healthy. DH has been working out consistently all year like I have been. There is no better gift we can give our children than trying to ensure our health! - 12/16/2010   6:31:13 PM
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    Thank you for sharing, you look great - 12/16/2010   4:45:29 PM
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    Thanks for sharing your journey. You are a true inspiration. After reading your stories it always makes it seem so much more of a reality-even for me. - 12/16/2010   4:41:12 PM
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    I'm glad that Josh has you. and you him. I hope you will have a a great influence on him that last. You are a great example of "Doing what it takes!!!"

    I wish you the very best. - 12/16/2010   4:34:38 PM
  • 27
    Great job! You're looking really good. Every year we buy a family gift. This year we purchased a treadmill for the family. - 12/16/2010   3:58:23 PM

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