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Project Inspiration: Fight Bad Moods with Creativity


"You can't change what was in the past…not by worrying about it, complaining about it, dwelling in it.  You also can't build the future.  You can impact the now…today….this moment.  By impacting your now, you have the best possibility of impacting your future." ~Author Unknown

That quotation routinely brings me back to thinking about living in the now, the present moment, and making the most of it:

For me, part of trying to live a life of successful maintenance has to be based on understanding what I can truly impact.  Can I impact the consequences of my food choices yesterday?  No, not really.  Those calories are already in my body.  Does wasting the day away regretting, fretting, or languishing in a downer mood help?  No!  If I do drop into one of those moods, and I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about, I'm thankful for one of my teenage daughters.  She'll remind me not to be a "Debbie Downer."  That's a name she got from a Saturday Night Live skit where Debbie is always focusing on the negative no matter what else is going on.  She will remind me that I've told her that in any given moment you can choose to change your mood and your mindset, and that I'm not allowed to disregard my own advice.  I think I might have to set up a text code with her for when she goes off to college.  I'll send her #DDM for Debbie Downer Mood, and she'll help me out of it!
Posted 2/2/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 25 comments   10,005 views
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Lauren Drops 80 Pounds with SparkPeople


Recently, I interviewed Lauren Wardell (Sparkgirl32), who has lost 80 pounds with SparkPeople. She joined SparkPeople at 197 pounds but had previously tipped the scale at 211. Lauren, 23, lives near Chicago.

~Indygirl:  What is your number one health priority and why?

Sparkgirl32:  My number one health priority is making sure I am living a life of balance. I am so passionate about what I do and helping other people, I have to make sure that I am making MY health a priority. I LOVE structure, so I make sure I’m leading a life of balance by scheduling my workouts, time to plan my meals, and time [for SparkPeople]. I’ve been trying to get all my ME time (workouts, reading, meal planning) done first thing when I wake up in the morning. I find if I don’t do this, I don’t have that time for me. Me time is VERY important—it allows me to be the best me I can be! When I’m the best me I can be, I’m helping people to the best of my ability (which is a HUGE priority for me). Taking that time out for YOU is SO important and one of the most selfless things you can do! It can be hard to reprogram though, and that’s why I have to schedule my “me” time—I’m hoping eventually this won’t be the case and will be something I do automatically!
Posted 1/13/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 80 comments   18,570 views
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My Best Advice for Those Just Starting Out


One of the most difficult things to do is change.  Some people thrive on it; I’m not one of those people.  A little here and there is good enough for me.  When it comes to changing your body, we all want it fast and now, including me. Now where was that genie in a bottle infomercial number I took down last night?
 
The number one advice I have for people is to embrace your change and your journey.  Make your changes slowly and for real.  If you’re the type who cleans out the kitchen, gets rid of all the food, swears to exercise an hour a day, and starve the fat off no matter what it takes, you too will burn with passion and have some success... that is until the burnout hits hard.
 
One of my mantras is "Aim for better every day, never perfect right away."  We can all achieve better, but not one of us will achieve perfect.  So quit holding yourself up to perfect standards.  Better standards are worth aiming for--always challenge yourself.
Posted 1/6/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 93 comments   19,461 views
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A Letter to the 'Haters'


I’m not the same person I used to be and it isn’t just losing weight that changed me. It’s personal growth mentally, physically, and spiritually. There is so much that others don’t know about me.
 
People on the streets aren’t always the nicest to people who are different. I get snickered at, teased, and blatantly laughed at. I have had my picture taken with camera phones. I wish they knew something about the person they are making fun of though. For instance, although I’m still overweight, they should know I fought my way back from being bed-ridden and still have the degenerative diseases that caused the situation in the first place. I deal with severe pain daily, yet I exercise. I have also lost 155 pounds and strive to motivate others with their weight loss and health efforts.
 
Yes, I used to be the victim of my diseases. I lay in bed and my husband took care of me.  It just didn’t sit well with me, living in just my room. I decided not to be a victim anymore.  I took the bull by the horns and found out what I could do.  I could go to physical therapy at first and that progressed to walking a 5K with my walker and being taken off of insulin.  I do everything in my power to fight back.  Sometimes it is tiring, but I take a break and get back to it.
Posted 12/30/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 315 comments   21,057 views
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Create Your Moment


Blogging has been a part of my job for well over three years now and while some blogs come quite easily, there are times when I struggle to come up with a topic that I think many of our readers can relate to. And as crazy as it sounds, hearing just a phrase or reading a quote can send my mind racing as to how I can relate it to my life.

That is precisely what happened a few days ago. It was a cold day here in Dallas and I had just finished a short 4 mile run when I needed something to warm me up. I went into my pantry and grabbed a package of hot chocolate. I glanced at the quote on the package and it read, "Create Your Moment." The minute I read the quote I knew this was going to be a blog, after all life is really all about moments we create every day. It's not a single event that defines who we are, but many moments strung together that will.
Posted 12/20/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 53 comments   9,895 views
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100 Things about Losing 100 Pounds


December 10, 2010 was a big day for me.

That is the day that I officially lost 100 pounds. As the first anniversary of that date approached, I started to think of all the changes that have happened in my life because of my transformation.  Sure, the easiest part to recognize is the weight loss, but it truly is a transformation, inside and out!

I started writing down things that I’ve learned, things that are better, things I do now, etc.I thought it would be fun to share this list of 100 things about 100 pounds with the readers. 
Posted 12/12/2011  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 85 comments   15,127 views
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Dream A Better Dream


When I was contacted by SparkPeople and asked to write about the trials and tribulations of weight loss maintenance, I immediately wrote back and asked Stepfanie how she knew that I had three teenagers in high school?  Tool number 1 for keeping off the weight – a good sense of humor helps!

I’d like to start out by telling you some of my weight loss history and talking to you about your dreams for yours. 

I realized one day at work when I had trouble walking up three flights of stairs after a fire drill that I was in terrible shape.  That same week I was approached by four brave souls who asked me to join a "Biggest Loser" contest.  At first I was stunned, but I now look back in extreme gratitude that friends would step out in intervention to help me.

My dream at that time was just to lose 20 pounds.  I never dreamed I’d lose 95 pounds and keep it off.  My dream was small, but I was committed to it.  I wrote on the memo of my check for the competition “The Winner.”  I was so confident that I could lose that 20 pounds, and I did--and I won.  The second time around I wasn’t such a good dreamer.  I entered but didn’t believe I could win, and I didn’t.  But the good news was that I continued to lose and workout.
Posted 12/1/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Michelene Cleary : 60 comments   10,503 views
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Lucy Shed 202 Pounds with SparkPeople


Editor's note: Once a month, ~INDYGIRL interviews a fellow 100-pound loser. Today, she's interviewing CRAZYMAMA46.
 
Lucy Herring-Parson (CRAZYMAMA46), 49, shed 202 pounds using SparkPeople.com. The Marion, Ind., native started at 387 and currently weighs 185. She's working to maintain her weight.

~Indygirl:  How does maintaining your weight loss make you feel?

Lucy:  I feel wonderful at times and scared at times. I still have the fear of inability to keep going and the fear of hurting myself again.

~Indygirl:  Did you believe you could do it at first?

Lucy:  No

~Indygirl:  What was your “A-Ha moment”?

Lucy:  When I was in a workout class with some very young and fit people and we were struggling to do the last 30 seconds of two-minute planks. I thought I was talking to myself but some overheard me saying "You can do ANYTHING for 30 seconds." They all said afterward how much I encouraged them and that it made them hang in there when they heard me. They thought I was talking to all of them. I realized then that even when you are on your own journey it does help yourself to help others.
Posted 11/25/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 114 comments   16,826 views
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The Journey of Overcoming Obstacles


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”~Lao Tzu
 
A few weeks ago a colleague sent me a link to an article from the Times NewsFeed regarding Canadian Jean Béliveau's 11-year walking journey and the lessons he learned along the way. She asked if I would be willing to blog about it. After reading the article I sat on it trying to find a common thread as to how I could relate this man's journey with the journey so many of us have taken.

When Jean Béliveau begin his journey 11 years ago he had no idea how long it would take to get to his goal. He started out running, but soon resorted to walking. He struggled with many obstacles, such as falling ill in Algeria to being mobbed in South Africa. And while he did consider giving up on his journey, his girlfriend encouraged him to continue on, which he did.

After 11 long years what started out as a journey to achieve a goal to walk around the world, he learned much more than he ever could have imagined when we took his first step. He came back with a "wealth of knowledge and understanding." While most of us will never embark on a journey of this magnitude, I think we can find a commonality between his journey and that of our own.

"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."~Michael Jordan

That commonality is that our life is a journey. We all have expectations and when our expectations fall short, it seems so much easier to give up than to push ahead. We plan, we take the steps to move us closer to our goals and for some reason, when we are confronted with an obstacle, this is what can cause many of us to turn away from our goals. After all life is so much easier when everything goes as planned. But it is truly the obstacles and how we overcome them that allow us to embrace the knowledge and wealth of living.
Posted 10/25/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 16 comments   9,879 views
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A Simple Act of Kindness: Saying Thank You


“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it.” ~ Ralph Martson

I have been so busy the past few months with work, traveling and taking part in home remodeling projects that the only real books I have found myself reading were on the topic of running or health and fitness. Don't get me wrong, I love reading all that I can on these topics, but when my girlfriends asked if I had read Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, I had to admit I had not. Eager for me to see the movie with them, my homework assignment was to get the book read before we went to see the movie that came out a few short days ago.

Last week I finally picked up my copy and let me tell you, it is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. From the very onset I felt such a deep connection with each of the characters. Maybe because having spent the majority of my life living in the south, I could relate to many, but not all, the scenarios in the book.

If you are not familiar with the premise of the story, it is basically about a young journalist in Mississippi in the early 1960's who elicits the help of the black women who work for the white families in the Jackson area to guide her in writing a book about their lives and the trials they faced working for these families.

As I was reading this book, there was a meaningful message about half way through that truly touched my heart. It was when Skeeter, the journalist, was interviewing, Callie, a helper who cared for a white family who always made her feel less than adequate. She never felt appreciated during her tenure, however that all changed when the matriarch of the family passed away.

As Callie recounts the story to Skeeter, when Miss Margaret passed away, she was given a note by Miss Margaret's husband thanking her for taking care of her baby with colic years earlier. This scenario had happened many years before her passing, but she wanted Callie to know that she never forgot. There is a line that Ms. Stockett wrote following this exchange that truly pulled at my heart and it reads, "saying thank you, when you really mean it when you remember what someone done for you---it's so good."
Posted 8/16/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Nancy Howard : 70 comments   12,605 views
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The Road to Failure Can Lead Us Down the Path of Success


Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Edison

Failure is something many of us have experienced in our lives and sadly something many of us have used to define who we are. Unfortunately, failure is genearlly seen as something negative and has kept many of us from living a life full of potential. It's far easier to never begin the journey, especially if expect to be perfect from the onset, than to have to endure one failure after the other. Our need for perfection can cause many us to view anything short of that goal as a failure. But what if we learn to use failure as a tool to move us closer to our goals? Do you think that you can let go of the past and use each failure as a stepping stone to success?

Posted 6/7/2011  6:00:41 AM By: Nancy Howard : 51 comments   15,120 views
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Celebrate National Running Day June 1st


Running has been a passion of mine for well over five years now and something I plan on continuing to do for as long as I can. All you really need to become a runner is time, patience and a good pair of running shoes. You can run solo or with a group. You can run night or day. You can run outside on the road or on a trail or inside on a treadmill. You can run slow or fast. You can run across town or just around the block. You can run for an hour or just 10 seconds. Whatever you do, this day is meant to celebrate the passion we, as runners, share in this great sport.

When I asked for help from my fellow SparkPeople runners as to why they ran I was overwhelmed at the responses. From members who run while fighting multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis to those running just to reclaim their health, I could feel their passion in each response. Reading through all the responses, not one member mentioned anything about finishing first or winning a race. Not one mentioned being faster than their running partner. Not one mentioned competing against anyone else. It is how running makes them feel,how it changes them and how it helps them to deal with some of life's obstacles.

Posted 5/31/2011  10:00:29 AM By: Nancy Howard : 56 comments   9,932 views
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It's All About Perspective


I have had so many wonderful opportunities the past two years to meet some very special and remarkable SparkPeople members who continue to motivate and inspire me to carry on with my own journey to embrace all that life has to offer. Hearing the inspirational stories of so many members who have overcome their own obstacles in life, such as losing over 100 pounds, running their first half-marathon or even lacing up their running shoes to race their first 5K is a blessing beyond words.

In a few short weeks I will celebrate six years of being diet free. I have never considered this journey I am on as another diet. I consider this my way of living. Running, strength training, Pilates and watching my diet has become my way of living, so much so that I no longer have to think I just do--something my running coach taught me years ago when I was new to the sport of running. In order to make a habit we must constantly make ourselves aware of the changes we need to make until we no longer have to think we just do--that is what we call a habit.

Posted 1/22/2011  8:30:12 AM By: Nancy Howard : 71 comments   18,613 views
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SparkPeople Members Take on Vegas


It's hard to believe just ten short months ago SparkPeople runners and walkers traveled from all over the country to run the first of many races in 2010. We all met in New Orleans to run in the Mardi Gras Rock N Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon at the end of February and I must say it started a trend that I am sure will continue well into 2011 and beyond.

Posted 12/18/2010  8:15:30 AM By: Nancy Howard : 54 comments   13,480 views
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Every Finish Should Be Celebrated


This has been an extremely stressful year for me and I must say 2011 can't get here soon enough. With the loss of my mother-in-law to liver cancer in February to other family issues, if it weren't for my husband, dear friends, understanding co-workers and my running, I am not too sure where I would be today. The next few weeks are going to be a big challenge for me and my husband, but having the love and support from our friends will get us through.

What I discovered by sharing my life with others is that I am never alone in my despair. Surprisingly, I have learned that more times than not, my troubles are not too far from what others have experienced. Through their wisdom and love, I am slowly learning to accept their hand in walking through life's storms. Life is truly so much easier having others to love and support you every step of the way, especially when you feel so overwhelmed with the emotions that come at this time of year.

Posted 11/20/2010  8:00:21 AM By: Nancy Howard : 87 comments   14,068 views
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