Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I was asked by my Dietician on a recent visit – to explain “what Sparkpeople means to me” as he hasn’t met the program and was really interested in it for other clients of his.
I found it hard to answer at that moment – but this is my answer that I will send to him.
What the Sparkpeople program means to me
The main aim is embodied in this quote by Chris Downie – Sparkpeople founder
“We help our members reach their goals by showing them how to truly make a healthy lifestyle change. This helps them keep the weight off AND helps them in other areas of life—from relationships to career and finances”
I have found this to be true – as I have got healthier through lifestyle changes, other things have changed – I have become more confident, I feel younger, I am more alert and can do more – no “nanny naps” or rests between preparing meals. And 1000 other things!!
So – what have I found in the last 2 ½ years, to be the most important points in the program?
1 – To regard it as a “lifetime” program – so not to be upset if, now and again, the calories go over, or the meals don’t always balance as they should, or I get tempted to eat “empty calories” once in a while, or I miss an exercise session. For me – these things are rare as they should be, but I have learnt that there is a clean slate starting the next day – however, as I lose weight very slowly, I will try to get an extra Curves session in to compensate.
2 – Tracking – both food and exercise. By tracking my food – EVERYTHING eaten – I know exactly where I am in calories and balance in the menu – I plan my main meals up to 4 wks ahead – and work menus round them. I always plan meals for the next day on the day before and spend a little time ensuring they are within the calorie and macronutrient allowances SP suggests. I always eat at the lower end of the calorie range, and ensure that I keep to the planned menu – if things go belly up – then I enter the changes in my tracker to check the damage!!
I also track my exercise carefully – since this, as well as my height, and weight enable SP to work out my calorie range and food balance.
Another reason to ensure balance in your menus, apart from the obvious one of ensuring you get all the necessary nutrients for the body to function fully, is that I heard it said that 70% of weight loss is in the food we eat!! Far too often we are overweight because our diet is too heavy in Carbs or fats (often the wrong types of both ) and by balancing up the macronutrients we help the body to lose and to become fully functional.
3 – Portion Control – often an overweight person has a distorted view of portions. In tracking they learn portion control as well – and the three things together (tracking, portion control and macronutrient balance) are the roots of the food side of the program.
4 – Water – It is recommended that we drink at least 2lit water or fluid each day. I have found that – I have to drink at least 2 lit water – pure fresh water – each day – and any other fluids are extra!! For some reason, this is essential – unless I drink 2 lit water, or more, I don’t lose weight!!
If plain water is hard to drink try a small squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice in it!!
5 – Sleep – 8 hrs a night is recommended – as surprisingly, lack of sleep can totally derail all your efforts.
The Sleep and Weight Loss Connection
New research underscores the critical role sleep plays with weight loss and maintaining your weight.
Lack of sleep
- Increases appetite
- Decreases metabolism
- Causes you to store more fat from carbs.
Out of Control Hunger and Lack of Sleep
Several new studies implicate inadequate sleep as a prime culprit with increased hunger. Chronic lack of sleep is directly connected with a higher risk of obesity and diabetes
6 – Exercise – both Strength training and Cardiac or Aerobic exercise are recommended.
It is important to find a form, or several forms of exercise that YOU enjoy and then to build consistency in them. A lot of us find that exercising first thing in the morning, before we get involved with the days happenings, works well
A minimum of 3 cardiac sessions a week, but there is no reason not to do 7 sessions a week!! It is recommended that at least 60 mins moderate exercise a day is attempted, however this 60 mins can be broken into smaller periods – the main aim is to keep moving in some way or another. Remember that a lot of things count as exercise – and it doesn’t have to be “formal” exercise necessarily!! Eg – gardening, housework, sweeping the deck, etc, etc.
Strength training – a lot of people think this will turn them into a body builder and bulk up their muscles so they have great bulges!! Nonsense!!
When you lose weight you lose a mixture of body fat and muscle from the body, so this needs replacing and strengthening to prevent excessive loss.
Also, when we live a sedentary life, or even just a very relaxed life the muscles that aren’t being used start to lose their strength after only 2 weeks. So we need to build them up again to give us energy and balance and stamina.
By strengthening the muscles we give our body that well toned look and our posture is better, also it is by strength training that any lose skin is taken up – after weight loss which makes you feel and look better. And it is possible, given enough time to shrink those bags on the stomach. Butt and arms right back!!
7 – Improved Self-Image - A lot of overweight people have a very poor self-image. They think they are ugly, and they don’t like themselves at all. Often this can be caused by abuse of some type, by a difficult childhood, by a multitude of things. They can use the excess weight to hide behind.
In losing weight,, becoming fitter and gaining health and strength they also gain self confidence and start to realise that they are a person in their own right!! They become a “different “ person and they learn to love themselves. This improvement in self image in turn creates its own motivation to continue getting fit and healthy.
8 - Support – It is often said that the more you give, the more you gain back. This is so very true as far as SP is concerned.
The whole program works on the support that one gets from the site, from other members, from team leaders and from the SP staff. Where else can you find support 24/7 ?? It has been proved in studies that people who take part in challenges, and contribute to message boards, and read and leave messages on blogs are the ones who lose weight faster and more easily, so the more you give back to the site, the more you will gain from it!!. I know that in my own case, I give a lot of time to helping members of my other team – the Chair Exercise Team but I get back their love and respect in so many ways, and this in its turn .generates more motivation in me!!
9 – Education – there are a multitude of articles on a myriad of subjects in the site –and they enable you to understand yourself, and the program. By fully understanding YOU and by knowing and understanding the program very well, you will assist yourself towards certain success
10 – Becoming the best person that you can – basically this is the overall aim of the program – to become fit and healthy, so that you can live as full a life as you chose – so that anything is possible!! Believe – and it WILL happen – dream big – and follow those dreams!!
What do you think? Do you agree with me or not??