I Found the Secret to a Happy, Successful Life


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  136 comments   :  16,147 Views

By SparkPeople member Michelle Stone (OUTOFCONTROL)

Legendary golfer Walter Hagen once said:
"Don't hurry, don't worry, you're only here for a short visit, so be sure to smell the flowers along the way."

I donít know much about golf, but this is how I try to live my life, too. I gave up worrying toward the end of high school. I used to make myself sick with stress and worry over my grades, then in my senior year I realized that in the grand scheme of things it really didnít matter. From then on, I put everything I did in proper perspective. I even managed to get through law school and still have a life.

Later on, when it came to losing weight, my perfectionist tendencies surfaced again. When I joined SparkPeople I told myself that I would not let perfectionism get in the way. I would track my food and exercise the best I could, but if I didnít track all the time it was OK. Instead of trying to lose weight quickly, I set my goals for only half a pound a week. It took me almost a year to lose 25 pounds, but it went by quickly. There were days I consumed so many calories that the Healthy Lifestyle Tracker couldnít compute it, but I didnít regard those times as failures, just detours. I was still going to get where I was going, maybe just not as quickly.

My friends and family often wonder how I manage to go through life so calmly. The answer is that I take responsibility for the things within my control and let go of the things that are beyond my control. Making a decision and putting it into action can change things, but worrying doesnít accomplish anything, it only wastes precious time. You can spend your time getting stressed out and worrying about things that may never even happen at all and playing the "what if" game, or you can use enjoy the time you have right now because every moment is a gift.

I feel like even the setbacks I have experienced along the way turned out to be blessings in disguise. In December 2007 I accomplished a goal that went way beyond my wildest dreams--I finished a marathon. But in the months after that, I sustained an injury training for a half marathon, and this injury has taught me important lessons.

At first I felt lost without running. I had come to identify myself as a runner and I was able to easily maintain my weight loss. This may sound unbelievable to those who know me now, but the old me, the one who was overweight and hated exercise, thought that being injured would be great because I would have an excuse to exercise. But SparkPeople unleashed my inner athlete, and this time nothing would keep me down.

At first I really struggled and tried everything I could to heal the injury and get back to running. But as the year wore on, I began to let go. I redefined myself, not as a runner, but as an athlete. I took up weight lifting and got back into swimming. And then the inevitable--I bought a bicycle. Iíve been told that eventually all runners end up on a bike. Where running had always been a challenge to me, cycling felt natural from the beginning. And best of all, it doesnít hurt!

Iím still working on rehabilitating my injury, but even if I never run again Iíll be OK. If this never happened to me, I probably would not have taken enough time out from running to try all these other wonderful activities.

This progression has also led me to give up the scale. My success is now weighed by how good I feel and all the fabulous things my body can do, injured or not.

I am 37 and feel better than ever! As an attorney I sit at my desk all day, so I make sure to get my activity in early in the day. I'm at the gym by 5:30 am and then bike to work several days a week. Although I played sports growing up, I never considered myself athletic. I am what John "the Penguin" Bingham calls an adult-onset athlete. I plan on doing a 2.7 mile swim across Donner Lake in August and my first 100 mile bike ride in October. Thanks to SparkPeople I realize that even our smallest actions rarely go unnoticed, so I never say never anymore!

Could you apply this same outlook to your life? Do you spend much time worrying?

Do you have an inspirational story you think we should include on the dailySpark? Do you have any funny stories about weight loss? Send them to editor@dailyspark.com. Include the subject line: From the Mouths of Members

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See More: motivation,
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
NEXT ENTRY >   How Cooking Affects Your Vegetables' Nutritional Value


  • AMBER461
    Very good blog. Thanks for sharing. - 7/1/2014   9:00:56 PM
  • LQUEST4754
    Woohoo! - 12/24/2010   9:36:29 AM
    What a great attitude. - 11/24/2009   10:47:47 PM
  • 133
    Great article. I am trying attain that attitude. I worry about the things I cant' control. I have ask for God's peace. I am sure with time I will get it. Old habits are hard to break. - 11/4/2009   2:29:54 PM
  • 132
    You're living what my boyfriend has always told me! I've always wondered why he was so calm, why nothing seemed to bother him. Now that you've written it down, when I read it over I discovered that this is how I want to be. To let go of that which I cannot change, and to embrace that which I can. Thank you for writting this wonderful piece, you are truly inspirational! I can't say how well timed your blog was, and how in the depths of my heart I thank you for writing it. It just proves that everything comes at a certain time for a reason, and that we find our strengths and weaknesses as we are meant too. - 9/1/2009   7:04:48 PM
  • 131
    I wanted to add my thanks too. Your blog came at a good time for me as a gentle reminder to curb my perfectionist tendencies. God bless you! - 9/1/2009   1:27:42 PM
  • 130
    thank you for sharing your story and success it is a great inspiration to keep trying one more day and celebrate my life - 8/19/2009   12:44:58 PM
  • 129
    Thank you for this blog. I am a worrier and am trying to work on that. It doesn't do me any good to stress out about things I can't control. I am learning that bit by bit. - 8/9/2009   3:53:32 AM
  • 128
    Ahh to have learned this at such an early age. It took me much longer to gain that kind of wisdom! - 8/8/2009   1:15:08 PM
  • 127
    This was such a great blog! The points are so valid and it's such a common sense approach to all things in life. In reading the writings of other people, I can often hear the joy or frustration, celebration or sadness. But it's rare when I can hear and feel a person's contentment. In this case, I can. And THAT is a wonderful place to be. Thank you so much for sharing! This is a keeper. - 8/7/2009   11:28:44 AM
    I too only managed to lose a half pound a week. After a year I decided to give it a break. I gained a few pounds over the last year but I have got back on track. I still have a ways to go but I am back to tracking calories and exercise. I enjoyed your story and it will provide me with the determination to drop the next 25. Thanks - 8/7/2009   8:33:42 AM
  • 125
    Thanks for the blog. I enjoy reading others ideas and thoughts to keep myself motivated. I hope to start riding (I have a mule and a great bike) again soon. - 8/6/2009   9:48:58 PM
  • 124
    WoW! This was a great piece. I really enjoyed it and know that I will get good use from the information. - 8/6/2009   8:25:22 PM
  • 123
    What common sense encouragement! As I stated on a blog on your spark page, you seem to be a wise woman! Now I don't feel quite as bad for those days that I go over my calories. I just need to keep the end goal in sight! You are an inspiration! - 8/6/2009   4:27:54 PM
    Thanks for sharing - very nice! - 8/6/2009   3:17:55 PM
    This is something I needed to hear :) Thanks, AMAZING blog! - 8/6/2009   1:11:58 PM
  • 120
    Great blog thanks !!! - 8/6/2009   12:54:25 PM
  • 119
    Thanks for sharing. I too go over the charts some days in my calories, but I try ot bounce back the next day or two. I use to just go for it the whole week and start back on Monday.
    I have tried over and over to give up the worrying over my weight. I don't even own a scale because it is so hard for me to get the pounds off. Then I worry and feel defeated. On the other hand, my clothes are really fitting better these days. So thank you for sharing. I have even gone down a size.
    - 8/6/2009   9:43:13 AM
  • 118
    Thank you so much for sharing yourb story, especially the starting quote - 8/6/2009   8:34:32 AM
  • 117
    Thank you very much for sharing as I needed to be reminded of how unimportant worrying is. It is a tough thing to get ahold of but with time I can surely remove this from my make-up :) Thanks so much for sharing your story! - 8/6/2009   7:32:59 AM
    Your story sounds very great, but I was sincerely hoping to read something about how God has inspired you. Only HE can being true, lasting joy. I pray you find that in HIM alone. God Bless! - 8/6/2009   6:48:43 AM
  • 115
    Thank You! I needed to be reminded of that today. - 8/6/2009   12:13:16 AM
  • 114
    This is a timely reminder in the face of so much international economic trouble. - 8/5/2009   10:09:33 PM
  • 113
    I find that when I start to worry about things I can't control, I remember a verse that has helped me so much " Therefore, don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own" Matthew 6:34. God is in control. That's all we need to remember! - 8/5/2009   9:43:15 PM
  • 112
    Awesome aritcle. Thanks - I needed that. - 8/5/2009   8:46:12 PM
  • FOX2566
    Good timing for me. Thank you. - 8/5/2009   7:50:08 PM
  • 110
    Your article appealed to my perfectionistic tendencies. I often find myself not willing to try something unless I can guarantee success. What a sad way to live especially, as you mentioned, in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't matter.

    Bravo on finding the secret and sharing it. - 8/5/2009   6:44:23 PM
  • 109
    Michelle, great blog and I can totally relate - although I need to adopt a bit more of your "don't worry about it" attitude. thank you for sharing this.

    And how wonderful to see what your mum wrote! - 8/5/2009   4:54:04 PM
  • 108
    I agree. Don't worry about what you can't control. I can only control myself (and half the time I can't even do that!). It will keep you healthier and happier. - 8/5/2009   2:39:55 PM
  • 107
    I am guilty of worrying way too much. Especially about money. My monthly bills are more than my income so I am buried deeper in debt every month. It's so stressful and most of the time I just feel trapped. How can I not worry about my situation? - 8/5/2009   1:59:01 PM
    Wonderful article! I too have learned not to stress the small stuff that there is too much wonderful stuff going on around me to focus on what could go "wrong". Congratulations on your achievements. - 8/5/2009   1:56:08 PM
  • 105
    You mean there is hope for the perfectionist in me? Awesome :). Thanks for this post; I have added it to my favourites and will be sure to read it now and then to remind myself to relax a little :)! - 8/5/2009   12:50:34 PM
  • 104
    It is so nice to read about your fabulous attitude. I am seriously working on letting go of stress and things I cannot control and boy oh boy does it feel better...Thanks for sharing! - 8/5/2009   12:43:20 PM
  • 103
    I, too, have embraced my inner athlete as an adult. Despite playing tennis all four years of high school, I never considered myself an athlete. Now, I am eager to try all kinds of new activities, and really enjoy seeing how well I can do them! - 8/5/2009   12:41:43 PM
  • 102
    I'm not sure i could reach and aim that high but you are a inspirement to
    me to try. - 8/5/2009   12:34:17 PM
  • 101
    This is exactly what I needed to read! Thanks for sharing! - 8/5/2009   12:24:32 PM
  • 100
    What a great story. You are my "Shero" today! Keep up the good work.

    Sunny - 8/5/2009   11:40:55 AM
  • 99
    This is great! I hope you can run again but it sounds like you definitely have a backup plan that's just as good!

    Spark has unleashed my inner athlete as well - I grew up athletic but kinda left it behind at around 18 thinking it was kids stuff. Now, I realize that it's just in my personality to be competitive and goal oriented so races are the perfect way to keep me motivated without it always being about the scale. - 8/5/2009   11:19:54 AM
  • 98
    This has been my mantra since I started losing weight three years ago. Slow and steady wins the race. Why worry about things that are out of my control. I can only control myself and my actions and i need to hold myself accountable for them and not make excuses. Sustaining weight loss is a lifestyle change and not something just for the momment. - 8/5/2009   10:30:36 AM
  • 97
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    I am also in the process of replacing running with other exercises that keep me as motivated, and to my surprise, I'm finding that group exercise weight training and Pilates classes can be addictive too. I resisted them for the longest time, because I don't naturally like to do those kinds of things. But thinking back, I didn't know I would like running until I did it, either. - 8/5/2009   10:28:18 AM
  • 96
    By the title "I Found the Secret to a Happy, Successful Life" I thought she was going to talk about accepting Jesus. Oh well, I am happy for her just the same. - 8/5/2009   10:23:17 AM
  • 95
    Thank you for your inspirational story. I am going to try to live by your line "take responsibility for the things within my control and let go of the things that are beyond my control'' - 8/5/2009   10:11:41 AM
  • 94
    This is such a great story! Thank you and congrats on your super lifestyle! - 8/5/2009   10:07:42 AM
    Congrats on what you have accomplished so far.
    I too stressed over various things. So much so, that I lost control of myself, things around me, my family. Then I lost my job.
    Since this time I've taken the time to work on myself and enjoy the time with my family. Setting little goals that I've been able to be successful at.
    You've taken a great approach to things and have not let your injury deter you and found another avenue to be active and competitive at the same time.
    Best of luck in your upcoming events. - 8/5/2009   10:03:54 AM
  • 92
    Love that phrase "Adult onset athlete". Sums up the transformation that has taken hold for me over the past 6 months since joining SP. Good luck with the upcoming century! - 8/5/2009   9:43:48 AM
  • 91
    I'm with you! I don't worry about 'things'. I know God is in control and will provide for me. If I go over in calories one day, I don't worry about it. I just love living a healthier life style and passing it on to my family too. My husband, children (ages 13 and 15) and I started playing tennis this year, we take family bike rides, my 15 year daughter and I go hiking. Life is short...enjoy it! - 8/5/2009   9:38:56 AM
    Congratulations - 8/5/2009   9:19:59 AM
    I wish I could say that I have given up worrying. I often read Matthew 6 about the futility of worrying so much. I have gotten better, but I still have a lot of work. However, I do feel encouraged by Michelle's journey and know that I will get there with practice and deteremination.

    I am also encouraged by what she said about taking it slow and not putting unhealthy or unrealistic goals onto my weight loss journey. I realize that being healthy is more important than wearing a certain size or fitting into some image that society tells me I need to fit into. My only goal is to be the BEST that I can be and like Tony Horton says "Forget the Rest!" - 8/5/2009   9:13:46 AM
  • 88
    wow! incredible blog! you've been there and back, are ready to move on, and as long as it's forward motion and you feel good, ROCK ON!!! yes, indeed, you're another sp success story! congratulations on your personal enlightenment, adult-onset athleticism, and flexibility in finding that a lot of things work and help...they just do it differently....best regards, nancy - 8/5/2009   9:13:12 AM
    Enjoyed your post - thanks for sharing - 8/5/2009   8:52:47 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.