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1 Year of Spark Living....Some Hard Learned Truths

Sunday, January 08, 2012

So as I start off my second year on Spark people, I’m pretty amazed at the progress in what now seems like a very short year. This time last year, I was sitting around the house recovering from some pretty massive surgery that had me laid up on crutches, keeping me from bearing any weight on my left leg for about 3 months. Since I couldn’t workout much, I had all the potential in the world to balloon up into a massive couch potato.

As I sat around the house in Jan 2011, I had 2 weeks off from work to recover, so I read like crazy, surfed the net to figure out how to not balloon up like a couch potato in the coming months. And I chanced on Spark people!

Everything I read (and intuitively knew) said it really came down to the food. If I had little opportunity to work out, then I had to cut down on the food intake. But my God that’s hard to do!

I spent hours on the sight reading, blogging, logging, friending, doing everything I could to stay motivated and on track….even when I wanted to wolf down some leftover XMAS cookies or snack on anything to alleviate the boredom of sitting around.

But here I am a year later, much the better for it. It’s still tough to stay motivated and on track all the time, but it really is about steady progress and remembering that we humans are imperfect beings that slip and indulge every now and then. We are sometimes even lazy and need to take breaks. But the key is to get back into it quickly.

And the progress is very satisfying! I can look in the mirror today, or see myself in photos, and I like what I see (always have, but now it’s even better!).

So a good colleague of mine is very fond of speaking in “Truths”. He really enjoys emphasizing things by using these “Truths” to make his point, then using history to back up all his assertions (“Humans are more important than hardware” and “Quality is better than quantity”). He can be a real pain in the ass, but he’s had a positive influence on my life.

Here are some “Truths” I have learned along the way that work pretty darn good for me:

I’d like to think I could just work out harder to burn more calories and slim down, but all the evidence of my life points to the fact that eating right is the real key to staying at a healthy weight. I think it’s about 75% diet/25% exercise…staying within or under calorie limits leads to weight loss in a way that working out more can’t. I should stop fighting against this one and accept it.

My internal food estimator is broken. I have to log in everything I eat to know how many calories I've taken in and face the hard numbers every day, good or bad. When I stop logging food, I gain weight, pure and simple.

There are a whole series of “Non Scale Victories” out there. The numbers on the scale are just a measure of gravity. Yeah it's nice to see the scale move down, but when you lose fat and add muscle, your weight can stay the same, but your body shape-shifts into a whole new leaner you. Sometime the fit of the clothes is a better measure of success. Here’s a link to AprilRain and CMJ4V13's photo blog illustrating the same point;

Now I’m no saint about this one….I still put a lot of credence in weight, but I’m willing to accept that tightening belt notches are indicators of success when the scale stagnates.

Strength training has really done wonders helping me lose a lot of inches all over the place, and adding inches, and shadows, and muscle definition in all the right places. Got to burn off calories with cardio and have got to add muscle with strength training otherwise you get out of balance. And they have to be changed up periodically. Due to the surgery, my running days are over, but now I mix up biking, ellipticals, rowing machines, walking, and Hi-intensity intervals. ST has to change from higher weight/lower reps to lower weights/higher reps to keep from stagnating.

There is no justice! It can take weeks & months to drop a stubborn 5 or 10 lbs, but they can gain come back with a vengeance in just a matter of days! This truth really sucks, but it’s still the truth

Don't ask me why, it just does. Tracking food, logging workouts, blogging about my successes & failures, interacting with friends and teams, encouraging others. It just works!

So 2011 went pretty darn well, and I’m hoping 2012 goes even better. It doesn’t come naturally and it doesn’t just happen. I have yet to achieve health Nirvana where my body mystically transports itself to the gym or naturally craves only good & healthy foods. Nope, it only comes about through daily accountability and effort….and a handful of some pretty good Spark friends!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GLASSART43 1/10/2012 10:17AM

    Great reminders that there are no quick fixes, but paying attention and hard work can pay off. Thank you!

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TORNADO40 1/10/2012 9:27AM

    What a great blog...everyone should read it.
emoticon emoticon

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CHALLENGER15 1/10/2012 7:00AM


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MINDA31807 1/9/2012 6:19PM

    emoticonI need to abide by those Truths as well.

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MILLIE5522 1/9/2012 3:41PM

    Great blog. The bit about the weight gain is so frustrating but I suspect that if we put on or lose a lot of weight in just a couple of days then that weight is most probably "water" weight. The real fat loss or gain is probably more modest than it appears on the scale.

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BYFTHALONE1 1/9/2012 7:28AM

    thanks for the reminders! I am at a point where the scale is saying that no progress is being made, yet my clothes and the camera tell me just the opposite. Congrats on the year and the progress made to date!

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BELSNICKEL 1/9/2012 6:43AM

    thanks i needed that

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MINANCY 1/9/2012 6:30AM

    I love your truths! Thanks for sharing!

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CRAZYWOMAN10 1/9/2012 5:15AM

    Great blog!

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XRSIZE18 1/9/2012 1:48AM

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing.

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MTULLY 1/9/2012 12:59AM

    So true!! I really should print this out and keep it in a highly visible spot. I know these are true, but sometimes I forget. Thanks for the post!!

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HEALTHIERKEN 1/9/2012 12:37AM

    May I ascribe to your Truths too???
Great blog. Thanks.

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JONESINATOR 1/8/2012 11:47PM

    Great blog! I love AprilRain's post; I just could not remember her username when I saw that post and now thanks to you I do!

Lots of great advice and truths in here; all of them, of course, true! Keep at it, and let's make 2012 a great year.

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SAFARIBABE 1/8/2012 9:16PM

    Happy Sparkversary GetStrongerrr!! (never do remember how many r's you threw onto the end of that LOL. Here's hoping your 2nd year is equally successful!! Next time I'm feeling out of kilter I'm going to come back and read this blog!

emoticon emoticon

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Coming up on a 1-year Spark anniversary.....time flies!

Friday, January 06, 2012

I'm glad today is over.....I'm glad this week is over!

Now one should never wish time to go by quickly, but I found that coming back to work after the holiday break, everything seemed accelerated. I spent almost the whole friggin' day on the phone today, mostly on personnel issues, trying to hire the right folks for jobs this coming summer, placing some guys that are likely to move on, and I did four interviews in my office.

But what seemed to go the fastest was this past year. I'll have a year on the Spark board in a few days and it's amazing to see how fast it has gone by. I'll not dwell on that yet, I want to collect my thoughts this weekend (in between helping SWMBO take down all the XMAS decorations which she just informed me was our job for much for me and Kindle time)

But in between the hectic pace this week, I got in some great workouts, and tonight my chest and shoulders are just singing with glee at what we did to them today!

I'm also revving up for some more on-the-road adventures this month. Wednesday-Saturday I'll be in Vegas, a quick turn to Norfolk, VA right after that, then Kansas City here I come at the end of January. As always, I'll need to keep my Spark friends close while on the matter how fast time flies!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUNEBUG1944 1/7/2012 8:50PM

    Time sure flies when you're having emoticon

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TEDDYBABE 1/7/2012 10:06AM

    Love you postings on your home page, ALL so true. Thanks again for the support on my blog. CONGRATS on your upcoming one year! It is a milestone. I have found no better motivation!

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NEEBREW 1/7/2012 9:14AM

    Yay! Congratulations! You have been a SparkFORCE this year!

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SAFARIBABE 1/7/2012 5:40AM

    emoticon on your upcoming Sparkversary! I can't wait to read your reflections on the last year. As for the chest and shoulders....sing, Sugar, SING!!! I'm sure you'll manage some Kindle time today. I mean how many decorations can you have right? And it's easier to put them away than it is to put them up! Have a great Saturday!!

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BRADOS 1/6/2012 10:26PM

    Congrats on your upcoming 1 yr SP - you have truly been a great warrior - always look forward to hearing how (and where) you are at

have a great weekend

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BEATLETOT 1/6/2012 9:20PM

    Christmas stuff is coming down tomorrow for me, too! Good thing it's three stockings and a three-foot tree. I'm thinking 25 minutes max. SparkPage has to be deholidayed as well, so we'll see how that goes tomorrow, as well.

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SWAN47 1/6/2012 9:05PM

    You're right time flies especially when your busy. It sounds like you are. emoticon on your one year anniversary of Sparking. Here's to a great healthy 2012...continue your journey to a healthier you!

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Two workouts in a day....pretty tame really!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

So I've always had a tendency to take things to the extreme. Sometimes that works out good (pack-a-day smoker to marathoner in 8 months)....other times not so good (almost got sucked out to sea in Hawaii on a dare). Problem is I can never tell in advance how it will work out in the end.

After my post-workout counseling session yesterday (see blog:
) I found a free 90 minutes on my schedule around lunch time and made a beeline for the gym where I got in a quick hour of cardio. That did the trick for me, because the rest of my afternoon went amazingly well (for me anyway, my staff hates it when I workout at lunch....I always come back with some great ideas for them to start working on)

Anyway, I wrapped up work around 5:30 and as I was driving home I thought...and I thought and I thought....

.....and I decided to get in another workout! Yes, I did a two-fer today, something I haven't done in a while. Was it good? Yes! Was it smart? Who knows! Can I do this every day? Hell no!

But every once in a while, it's good. I'm a firm believer in balance; balancing diet, strength training, cardio, stretching and to not construct a plan that requires an unsustainable amount of work (2 hour workouts every day, 6 days a week, sub-1000 calorie a day diet, etc)....that'll just cause me to quit after a few short successes.

But every now and then it's great to give in to a whim and to know that I am in good enough shape, and motivated enough, to grab that bag out of the trunk and put on those sweaty, lunchtime gym clothes and get in an extra 30 minutes before dinner.

Extreme? Well maybe for me, but you know, there are plenty people crazier than me out there:

and animals too:

So when you really come right down to it, two workouts in a day is pretty tame!

Have a great night and stay thirsty my Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHALLENGER15 1/7/2012 6:52PM


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BEATLETOT 1/6/2012 8:45AM

    I don't think that's very extreme at all. I think it's great, and when you do it occasionally, even better, because then it's SPECIAL!

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BILL60 1/6/2012 7:50AM

    Well done!! If the body can handle it, why not??

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SAFARIBABE 1/6/2012 6:09AM

    That's awesome!! So the bear wrestling is next week's extra activity? LOL

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    That's totally something I would do! Actually, I do that when I take two TKD classes in one night. :) Great job!

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    I agree that a once and a while 2-fer workout session is fabulous! Way to go emoticon

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A Change Would Do You Good....(apologies to Sheryl Crow)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

So my Stasi trained trainer changed things up again on me....welcome 2012!

We've been pushing it up with lighter weights at higher reps, which has felt remarkably good, and kept me injury free these past 4 months. But "it's time to shake it up again" he said with that supercilious grin of his that make me want to pick up a cudgel and.....

So we've changed the whole routine around and are now using heavier weights and doing less repetitions.

It felt surprisingly good....and went a lot faster. We had been doing 3 sets of 15 and now we do 3 sets of 5, with heavier weights of course. Then he told me the good news.

"Of course now you're going to have to up your cardio. You won't be as exhausted with this workout, but it will make you stronger. If you want to maintain or lose weight, you need more cardio"

"Great, so how do I find yet another 5-6 hours in a week Jedi Master?!?"

He gave me the "I can't answer that for you" shrug and grin then went back to examining his Stasi files

So it's all good....change is good I keep telling myself. As I close in on my 1 year spark mark, I've developed some basic "truths" about healthy living.....change is good is becoming one of my mantras, especially when I want to remain set in my ways

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NEEBREW 1/5/2012 8:12PM

    Oh, admit it... you love it!

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JECKIE 1/5/2012 8:37AM

    Do you ever have those moments you wonder why you pay them to do this to you? ;)

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BYFTHALONE1 1/5/2012 8:22AM

    and he gets paid for this? LOL

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BEATLETOT 1/5/2012 8:18AM

    Glad your trainer continues to challenge you! I hope you find the extra cardio time!!!

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SAFARIBABE 1/4/2012 11:27PM

    I KNEW there was a reason I never used a trainer! They're evil! And now I have confirmation that they are really all Stasi! Thank-you, thank-you old friend for comfirming what I've always suspected! I'm sure you'll come up with a way to jack up the cardio. You have an indominable spirit. Ever considered gator wrestling? LOL Have a great night!

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Welcome New Gym Rats! Here's to You!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

So today was the day I've been dreading for the last 4 weeks....they day everyone is back from their holiday break, full of remorse and regret, resolutions piled high....and packing into the gym, filling up the parking lot and taking all my favorite machines.

Then I thought, "I'm an ass!"

Who the hell am I to I so far removed from my days starting out that I am now a Gym Snob?

Have I turned into an Alpha-male SOB who has forgotten his roots?

Could I have become "Broseph", THAT GUY, the annoying, elitist jerk at the gym?

I think not Spark friends, it was a momentary weakness of attitude, perhaps brought on from an over-eagerness to get in a good workout.

Because here's the deal....the only reason I have made any progress over this past year is to realize that I can succeed best by being part of a larger community, encouraging others while pursuing my own disciplined way forward. Slow, steady, exercise and a mindful diet has been the key to my success and a determination to live healthy is what works. So when I see others giving it the college try, it's up to me to be encouraging and not so single-minded in my pursuit that I unwittingly turn someone away who may have mustered up incredible courage just to show up at the gym.

Besides, when I start getting frisky, I can always just go bug the regulars who make asses out of themselves....they're such easy targets!

So here's to beginner's and everyone showing up into packed gyms this January! WELCOME!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BEATLETOT 1/4/2012 6:17PM

    Very cute blog and cool pictures! Love your attitude. The people who get annoyed about newbies at the gym make me sad...especially since I'm kinda missing my gym. I wish I could see newbies...

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ADEWYN 1/4/2012 6:23AM

    i think next week is gonna e the week in our gym that we see all the new people... this wee still has been very light even our regular gym rats havent been there.... odd LOL but i embrace it i look forward to new people every year .. i hope that i can meet one [erson that looks shy or timid and help them thru the akward faze and keep them coming :) hence a new friend.. familiar face... workout friend? doesnt matter making one person feel good is all that matters.. yay new gym rats!

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BELSNICKEL 1/4/2012 5:28AM

    I hardly reached the point of gym snob yet. However, I was a bit annoyed by those returning. I need remember the gym cannot survive on my dues alone. today I'll try to reach out better. Each person i get to know adds quality to my life,

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BRADOS 1/3/2012 10:55PM

    I am noticing fewer people at the gym this year as well

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HEALTHIERKEN 1/3/2012 10:29PM

    So good to see your blogging again, GETSTRONGERRR! Ever the Wise One :)

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REBECCATKD 1/3/2012 10:08PM

    I love it! Hey, we're all just trying to get our workouts in, right? You should draw some graffiti on the locker room walls for extra support.

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SAFARIBABE 1/3/2012 10:06PM

    I've gone back to my nice 10am slot. And the joint was empty today. Was surprised. It's only the 3rd! Has everyone given up already?

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    Great point! I like to go at less busy times or just work out at home. Glad to see you've had a revelation. :)

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    My instructor told us regulars to get to the gym early as it may fill up!

Yes, welcome to the gym! Don't be afraid to ask for help in the gym :) You can do it!


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