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HEALTHY_CAROLYN's Recent Blog Entries

My fourth year on SparkPeople...

Sunday, January 01, 2012

I wish I could say I had a fourth year on SparkPeople, but I was off more than on this fourth year. I still carry the lessons and more importantly, the people, with me every day, but I have not been keeping up a particularly healthy lifestyle in activity, though my eating is still good. I gained those ten pounds while husband was out of work this summer, and while I keep thinking they'd easily come off if I'd get my butt moving consistently, I haven't. I know what I have to do, but oh, those lazier habits have overcome me again. I never give up, and I'm still maintaining a weight loss of 25 pounds since I started SP, but I know that my muscles and stamina are not where I want them to be. As always, I thank my sparkfriends for being in my corner, even if you all are just the angels on my shoulders bolstering my good thoughts. You guys, past and present, are the best!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REVSERENA 3/15/2012 9:55AM

    Our journeys have been parallel once again! I am just getting back into the swing of things. It is good to know that there are others traveling the same road.

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LAURACONNER 3/2/2012 8:08PM

    Hi Carolyn: I emphasize with how hard it is to maintain and continue on the right path - some how - if we let it - life knocks us down - and it's hard to get back up. I am also on my 4th year - and last year was difficult - i had knee surgery on left knee. The healing process if much slower than when i had the right knee done and that has caused me to - sort of give up - on myself. I am shaking that off and putting one foot in front of the other to get back to my journey. I am glad you are back. Keep trying and focus. You are a dear friend. Take care. Laura emoticon

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EBLOOMING 2/3/2012 12:45AM

    I know you can do it...hope to see you often here. I also have 4 years in and yet my weight goes up and down. I wish I could say that I had lost 25 pounds and kept it off. I once was at 15 lost...but during TG, Christmas, and New Year I put some on again and working hard....doing some swim exercise... water jogging. Seems to work out okay as my joints give me some troubles this past year. Blessings!! Elaine emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ZELLAZM 1/3/2012 1:57PM

    Hope to see more of you in the New Year, Carolyn!

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LADYK57 1/3/2012 11:02AM

  I could never have made it to where I am today (maintaining a 50 lb loss) without your wonderful support, encouragement, wisdom and friendship throughout the entire first half of 2011. You have been an inspiration to me on my journey. I still have another 15-20 pounds I'd like to lose before this time next year (I should have been there by now, but I fell to simply 'maintaining' around August of 2011). I am so happy to 'hear' your Sparkvoice again at this beginning of a new year, and hope to hear it much more throughout 2012. I love you and miss you - and I thank you so very much.


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ONEWAYSTREET 1/2/2012 5:54AM

  I have all the faith in the world that you will achieve what you want to! You’re dedicated & that's what counts...
Thank you for all the help you have sent my way this past year... the info shared is still with me... I learnt a great deal from you & for that I am truly grateful!!!!!
Hope the year is filled with lots of love & happiness….
Keep up that great smile of yours….
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Read about my third year on SparkPeople

Friday, December 10, 2010

My third year was a really tough one. I had no idea when I ended my second year that I would be facing a tougher time than I had during that one, which seemed really challenging. I stopped exercising regularly and just could not get myself going again. I had so many false starts. Each time I failed to truly get back on track, I felt worse for it. I was gaining weight and my clothes felt tighter, and I couldn't understand why I wouldn't just do what I knew would make that all go away. I'm sure I ate more, but really food wasn't the issue; it was my lack of activity that did me in. I kept wondering how I could let myself go backwards so far. By the end of winter, I was up 5 pounds and by the end of spring 10. I was so close to stepping back up to 170, and I was terrified. It's not the number but the fact that I was sliding backwards so suddenly and easily.

All I can say is that I was mentally in a bad place, which is why I started sliding backwards, and then, the sliding backwards caused me to feel even worse. How do you get out of that place? It's something I see people ask all the time. We're desperate to make changes, and yet, we can't seem to do what needs to be done. It's like all those times any overweight person has heard someone say that all people need to do is exercise more and not eat as much. "Oh!" we answer sarcastically, "If only we knew that was the answer." Yes, of course, IT IS as easy as that and yet, it isn't.

I wish I could tell you I read something or heard something that changed the tide, and I was swept along to the promised land. The truth is I just kept fighting, even if I was fighting myself from eating one thing or taking one small walk. I took those baby steps that everyone talks about, and sometimes they were so baby as to be infinitesimal. I kept coming onto SparkPeople even if I had nothing good to share, kept praising my friends who were doing what I wished I was and commiserating with those who were in the same boat as I. In short, I did what I have always done: Be here and make my health a priority. If I couldn't do it in body, I did it in spirit. I knew my healthy me was begging me to let her come back out again.

When summer started, I was doing a once a week hike, if that, but it got the ball rolling, and by September DH and I had pledged to 5 days a week hiking, no matter what. Having him in my corner AND doing it with me made such a huge difference. I wish I could say the pounds and inches fell off, but actually they didn't. I didn't see any change in the first month, and really the changes were so slow. I didn't let it get me down. I just kept doing what I knew was positive and aimed for keeping that my focus.

At the end of the third year, I was down 35 pounds from when I started SparkPeople, not the almost 41 I had been at the end of year 2. But I'm smarter, and I'm stronger for having gone through it. I know this isn't an easy road, and I won't be able to wish things were different and have it be so. I just know that I will never be the person I was for most of my life. Healthy Carolyn is here to stay if only for the fact that I won't give in. I may take steps backward, but I can't ever forget the strength I have in me to reach my goals, and that will always take me forward again. I've learned that on SparkPeople, and that's a lesson I keep with me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REVSERENA 7/16/2011 10:13AM

    Our roads have run a parallel path over the years of Sparkpeople. I slid further, but I'm slogging back. It really is about each choice, every day. Just remembering it is a choice takes focus and energy! But it does feel good to feel good, and that only comes from consistently aiming toward health.

Blessings on your journey friend!

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LAURACONNER 1/4/2011 7:52PM

    Carolyn - Thank you for being my friend. I can honestly say that you have been there for my - praising my successes - and encouraging me in my progress and just keeping in touch. Your blog hit the mark with me - i have been feeling some of what you are talking about - you are correct - it is a tough journey, but who said life was meant to be easy. Good things are worth it and you are worth it. I am glad you have a supportive husband that works out with you. I wanted to thank you, really thank you - for being my friend. I am a very shy, quiet, person and i feel that you know me and i know you.! I am wishing you the healthiest, happiest, positive and successful year - the is your year!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/4/2011 7:58:59 PM

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ZELLAZM 12/15/2010 1:59PM

    I feel a Winston Churchill moment coming on..."never give up"! I think there will always be struggles, the thing is to become stronger for having made it through them.

I, too, have to remind myself that this is a journey and that there's no magic wand. We may have an epiphany from time to time, but mostly it's just hard work and consistency!

Glad that Healthy Carolyn is here to stay!


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STARGAZER68UK 12/12/2010 12:34PM

    I know what you mean sometimes its hard to think that you cant really lead a carefree normal life because you always have to be watching and pushing yourself. Its tedious to say the least and sometimes when you are in that place of fog and gloom its not fair either.
I wonder how long feeling resentment to the "routine" last or if it ever goes away, and becomes second nature and not thought about. I know they say that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit, well I am still waiting to reach that 21 days and I have been doing this for almost 3 months now.


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Read about my second year (month to month) on SparkPeople

Thursday, December 31, 2009

As I did at the end of my first year on SparkPeople, I'm archiving my main page where I wrote about my journey month to month during my second year, in case anyone's interested. Thanks for taking the time to visit, and I wish you all the best on your own journey.


I've made a real change inside of me that no one can see by the fit of my clothes or the number on the scale. I am the person I never thought I'd be: active, committed, devoted to my needs in a healthy way. I may falter, trip, misstep, and backtrack, but I will never fail to set my course forward again.

Thanks for stopping by my page. You can learn more about my first year's journey in my blog. I decided to pack away the old at the start of 2009. Here's to a healthy and happy 2009 for us all!

Update: January 4, 2009 - SW: 157.4
I've decided to join the SparkPeople New YOU Bootcamp Team today, which is good since it started today. I'm on an exercise streak (Yeah, it's only four days old, but it's still a streak!), and I thought the team would be a good way to ensure the streak continues. I'm really excited about 2009, and I hope that being so successful in January will really help my motivation as the year progresses. By the way, my definition of success is doing what I say I'll do and doing it to the best of my ability. If I follow those two mandates, I know everything else will fall into place.

Update: February 1, 2009 - Bootcamp EW: 156.8
As you can see, I took off a little over half a pound this month. I'm completely happy. I am at a place where I feel comfortable in my body, and all I'm looking for is to be stronger and fulfill my goal of living an active lifestyle. I am so grateful to the bootcamp and to my fellow Bootcampers on the Leaving 150-ville and Positive Sparkers teams who were right there with me this month. If you've read about last year, you know I struggled with getting back on my strength training routine. With Bootcamp I did ST 6 days a week for 4 weeks, and I didn't miss one day of exercising. It was a complete success as far as I'm concerned. I am not going to ever doubt my ability to get it done. I know that I may not FEEL like doing it, but I've learned that on those days, I can still do it. It's a matter of my desire to be the person I want to be. Building up the momentum at the start of the year has been so important for me, and I feel so powerful and confident. It's such a fabulous feeling!

As far as other measurements go, I haven't taken them as of writing this, but I do have one observation about toning up this month. At the beginning of the month, I noticed, while I was doing my hair, that my left arm had a jiggle to it, and my right arm, the dominant one, did not. That just seemed amusingly wrong to me. Well, I'm happy to report that as of today, the jiggle is gone, and my arms match up. So, there's my incentive to keep my strength training up: I don't want to look lopsided!

Mini-update 2/3/09: I've decided to do the other set of Bootcamp videos along with some of my other Bootcamping teammates who felt we just couldn't stop. I've challenged myself to do each video twice. Since February is a 4 week month, running from Sunday to Saturday, it's a perfect month for Bootcamping. I also weighed-in and measured today. I have removed another 2 pounds (numbers were bound to be off on the 1st because of TOM) to take me to 45 pounds gone for good! I took off almost another inch on my waist and almost half an inch on my hips. Although it's been since the end of November that I took measurements, I know that December was not the month that helped bring those numbers down since I was not strength training or exercising the way I did in January or the way I'm going to continue to in February. I love having a stronger, healthier body!

Update 3/2/09
I did not have a healthy February. I got hurt on the treadmill at the beginning of the second week, and it was just a nice, big slippery slope of poor decisions. I was upset and worried about getting hurt, and I just had a pity party for myself, hiding away in a hole, instead of working through it. I don't know why sometimes we can fight through things and other times we just wallow in the muck. When I'm thrown off my stride by something, I do not really handle it well. I guess I'm a routine kind of person, and when that routine is messed up, by an injury or by being too busy, which also happened this month, I just don't handle it well. So, that's on the list of healthy changes I want to make. The other one that's on the list is reaching out. Apparently, I am not the type of person to share when I'm going through things. I have always felt like I'm always reaching out to people, but I guess not when I'm down or things aren't going well. I have always said that this journey to a new healthy me is about way more than eating right and exercising.

I have also made a decision to change my goal weight. I've felt a lot of pressure recently from that number looming so close. It was always just some arbitrary number ("50 pounds gone, sounds good"), and it wasn't until I got close to it that I saw I would do well to reach beyond it. My new goal weight sits exactly in the middle of a healthy BMI for my height, and I feel like it will be a good place to reach for, a place I'll get to with enough time to really make these changes stick.

I always have to look at the positive side of everything, so here it is. In February, I was getting pretty good sleep, and I was very conscious of drinking my water. Also, I did not quit thinking every day of what I wanted to do. I may not have always done it, and I may have given in to food or inactivity, but I didn't just throw everything aside. I never stopped believing in myself, either, and I never will. This journey isn't easy, but I won't give up on it or myself EVER.

Mini-update 3/4/09: I weighed in today and I had added on almost 5 pounds (4.8 to be exact) in 4 weeks. A shocking amount (for me) but not a surprise because I was not doing most of what I know I have to do. It took me a half-pound out of a healthy BMI and back into overweight. That's relly a slap in the face for me, but I'm really looking at it as a lesson learned. I know what I didn't do well and how far I let it get out of control until I decided to buck up and pull myself out of it. I see now how much harder I've made it on myself, and I'm going to do everything I can not to let myself do that again. I've already returned to tracking my meals, getting my cardio and strength training done. I have a lot more to do because frankly, I got used to not being focused, eating more than I should, and skipping my exercise if I just wasn't feeling like it. Still, I'm hopeful and strengthened for March.

You know, there's such a part of me that wants to hide away from letting people know what I've done, but I know that anyone who visits my page will see the truth of this journey, especially those, like me, who spent a whole lifetime being big and believing they couldn't change. This isn't easy. Just when I think I've got it, it somehow slips through my fingers. The thing is, before, I would have let that be the point where I just gave in and let go. Now, I just get up, dust myself off, and get going again. This is for life. My life. I'm important enough to keep putting the effort into myself. I will probably have times where I lose my focus again, but I guarantee that I will get my focus back and move forward just as many times. That's just who I am now, a person who doesn't give up on herself.

Update 4/11/09 - (-2.6 pounds) I have been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to update, and that's too bad because I have great news. I am out of my funk! Whatever had me bogged down through February and March has finally disappeared. I cannot say I'm a whirling dervish of healthy choices with no chance of an unhealthy choice sneaking in, but my attitude is positive, and I feel great about what I'm doing. So, I have one thing to say to anyone who finds their motivation and energy down, keep going. We can't go anywhere, we can't achieve anything if we give up. Yeah, we might feel like nothing's happening or that we're falling backward, but the only way to get out of that is to keep trying. While I was going through it, it felt like I was trying to get through a never-ending mud bog, feeling the sucking at my feet and only being able to move v-e-r-y slowly. Obviously, not a pleasant experience, but knowing that quitting wasn't an option, I just kept trying to find something to pull me out. Sometimes I'd think I'd found a branch to hold onto, only to have it snap and let me fall back in. All I can say is that it wasn't the never-ending place I thought it was, and eventually I could feel some ground beneath my feet and I could pull myself out. The thing about living a healthy lifestyle is that I KNOW to my very being that there's no other way I can be now. I won't ever stop exercising. I won't ever stop making the best choices I can for food. I won't ever stop trying to find my healthiest life. Knowing that gives me the strength to get through the hard times.

Update 5/3/09
I'm starting the new month with a gain from last month, up 1.8 pounds. I am certainly doing a lot of up and down the past several months, but I'm learning not to get bent out of shape about it all. Both mentally and physically, I'm adjusting to all the changes, and I'm still processing all that's happened in the last year and a half with my body and my attitude towards my health.

I've started the new SparkPeople Sweatsuit to Swimsuit Bootcamp that runs for the next four weeks. I'm excited to have a new goal to work on, and I know from my last bootcamp experience that I will be successful. It feels great to have that confidence in myself. I have been needing to get back into my strength training routine, so this is really great timing for me. I feel like all those hard-won muscles have taken a vacation, and I need them to get back to work!

I have been really busy lately, and I haven't been as active on SparkPeople as I'd like, but each day, whether I'm able to log in or not, I think about the things I've learned on here, and I always carry around the lessons from SparkPeople and my fellow Sparkers. I just can't imagine a better safety net against my old ways. Just knowing all the people who are on here making it happen each day inspires me to keep on moving towards my goals. WE CAN DO THIS!

******************Creating a Summer of Success********************
I am building on what I've learned this year and creating something new for myself. I am calling these next three months the "Summer of Success." I WILL NOT accept anything less from myself, as I feel I have been doing this year. I got comfortable and happy with my accomplishments. Yes, they were great, and I am proud of myself, but complacency has long been a problem when I'm doing things for me. So, for June, July and August, I am going to be the strong, capable, determined me who reaches her healthy goals and keeps pushing through any walls that may appear. While I care about the weight because that is an indicator of what I'm doing or not doing, it is not my purpose this summer. My purpose is to be mindful of what my health really means to me, to not just talk the talk but walk the walk, as I did so well last year.

Update: 6/7/09 (up 1.4 pounds - 160 lbs.)
May was not what I expected at all. I had such high hopes for Bootcamp, and it just didn't happen. I didn't make it happen. Every day, I knew what needed to be done, and I didn't do it. Being so busy has kept me from my goals, but I feel as if I'm just using that as an excuse, though, of course, it's valid in one sense. Still, if it needs to get done, then, we can get it done. I get done everything else when it's for others, so I should be able to get things done when they're for me. So, you might think I'm down, but I'm not. I always, ALWAYS, have my strong will to succeed, and I have come back fighting this first week of June. I have a new plan. Yes, I always have a new plan because if that one fails, then, I have to keep trying to find one that works, and if that one stops working, then I need to move on and try again. I'm just not giving up on a healthy me!!

Update: 7-1-09 (up 5 pounds - 165 lbs.)
Well, I am really loving the new plan I mentioned in last month's update. I just feel really positive and strong from accomplishing so much. Even though I had a two week vacation during this time with my in-laws, I really kept to my plan as much as possible. Also, my fellow Sparker, Chloe and I became accountability buddies, and that has helped tremendously. When I haven't felt like getting exercise done or thought about making a less healthy choice, I would think about the goals we've made.

Despite feeling so great about what I accomplished in June, I gained 5 pounds. I wish I had an answer (I have a few theories), but I'm not stressing over it. Yes, I have gained the last three months, but I was only upset over the other months because I knew I wasn't doing all that I should. This month, I don't have that feeling. I am even back to tracking food so I can confirm that I am making the healthy choices I think I am. So, I'm going to keep up with the healthy decisions I've got going and just let the weight take care of itself. I feel healthy, and I'm making healthy decisions, and that's what matters to me!

Update: 8-2-09 (down 6.4 pounds - 156.6 lbs)
July was a great month for me. I kept working towards my goals despite June's weight gain, and it paid off. I can feel my stamina and strength improving all the time. I've kept up with my cardio goals and exceeded them some weeks. I took off what I'd put on in June and a some extra. I am going to improve on my successful summer in August by doing the Swimsuit Bootcamp that I was unsuccessful with in May so I can get on track with my strength training. One thing about the changes I've made is keeping my word to myself, and when I didn't complete the bootcamp in May, I promised I'd get back to it. Now's the time since I've got my cardio and nutrition going so well. I'm also still tackling the issues with my sleeping habits. I've had some success and some failure, but the point is, I keep trying.

Update 9/1/09 (down .6 pounds - 156 lbs.)
I felt like this month was really successful for a lot of reasons. I found I had so much more stamina and focus, and when I said I was going to do something, I did it. I was also really tuned into changing behaviors immediately and not looking at missteps as a time to go off track. I re-started the SparkPeople bootcamp that I didn't finish in May, and I did it faithfully, which has really helped me rebuild good strength training habits. This was the end of my Summer of Succes, and no matter the number on the scale, I feel successful! Now, on to an Awesome Autumn!

--------Summer of Success Weekly Stats--------
June 1-7: 7 days of cardio (487 minutes), 1 day of strength training, 7 days of healthy eating and positve attentiveness to myself and my healthy goals (160 pounds)
June 8-14: 7 (364 minutes)/ 1 / 6 (vacation- no access to scale)
June 15-21: 6 (323 minutes)/ 1 / 6 (vacation- no access to scale)
June 22-28: 5 (324 minutes)/ 3 / 6 (165 pounds)
*June update at the bottom
June 29-July 5: 5 (352 minutes)/ 2 / 6 (163 pounds)
July 6-12: 6 (363 minutes)/ 2 / 6 (161 pounds)
July 13-19: 6 (435 minutes)/ 3 / 7 (159.6 pounds)
July 20-26: 6 (390 minutes)/ 2 / 6 (159.2 pounds)
*July update at the bottom
July 27-August 2: 5 (341 minutes)/ 1 / 6 (156.6 pounds)
August 3-9: 5 (317 minutes)/ 5 / 6 (154 pounds)
August 10-16: 6 (400 minutes)/ 6 / 6 (155 pounds)
August 17-23: 6 (412 minutes)/ 6 / 7 (155 pounds)
August 24-31 (Week + 1 day): 8 (435 minutes)/ 5 / 6 (156 pounds)

SoS Totals: 4,943 minutes of cardio, 37,760 calories burned, 4 pounds gone, and many healthy habits were created!

*************Making it an Awesome Autumn************************
I had such a great time creating a Summer of Success that I just felt I needed to continue by making it an Awesome Autumn. Over the course of 92 days of my Summer of Success, I did 4,943 minutes of cardio (over 82 hours of heart-healthy movement!), and I toned and strengthened my body through regular strength training. I'm going to use what worked during the summer months, and now, for September, October and November, I'm going to add some focus on some other areas while improving on what I previously achieved.

Update: 10/1/09 (down 1.4 pounds - 154.6)
September was a great month. I started my new plan, Making it an Awesome Autumn, which runs from September through November. It's really helped me keep focused. My workout routine has been great, even if I never made it to the 3 days a week strength training. That'll just be something I work on in October. I'm still only managing early to bed nights about once a week. I'd love to change that, but as a lifelong night owl, that's something that'll just be a constant struggle. I'm up to the challenge, though!

My changes this month haven't just been to my healthy habits but also to other areas of my life. I feel like, for some reason I'm not aware of, I've been letting go of a lot of little hang-ups I've had. They're just little things that hold me back from living emotionally free, and I can feel them falling by the wayside. I'm become my healthy self inside and out. I even had, in all the 22 months on SparkPeople, someone finally give me the best compliment I could ask for: "You look healthy." Wow, that was amazing for me. It wasn't about my weight, size, or level of activity, but the actual label of "health" to be put on me. It's not the need of anyone to validate what I'm doing that made me happy but the fact that this way I feel and live is showing so that people can see it.

By the way, I need to give a shout-out to my fellow Sparkers who are just being amazingly supportive and wonderful. There's just always someone around who's ready with a helpful word, a pat on the back or a shoulder to lean on, and that's a great feeling!

Update 11/1/09 (up 2.4 pounds - 157 pounds)
October was a very strange month. I was going strong for the first half and then did a 120 (not quite a 180) where I stopped being active. I haven't been keeping to most of the goals I have set for myself. It started a few days before my scheduled vacation, and I thought I'd shake it off by now, but I got sick, and that worsened it. Now, I just haven't felt any real drive to be focused. Even the thought that I'm one month away from my 2 year Sparkiversary hasn't spurred me into action. So, that's where I am at the start of the new month, and it doesn't feel good, but it's not feeling bad enough for me to do anything about it, either.

Update 12/1/09 (up .6 pounds - 157.6 pounds)
I never got back in the groove after my end of October slip. I'd feel like I was going to make it happen, and then, I wouldn't follow through. I finished my Awesome Autumn plan much less awesomely than I'd hoped (3218 minutes/53.6 hours of cardio and not enough strength training by a long shot). These things happen, and my plan obviously failed somewhere, and then, I didn't make adjustments. One plan is not going to fit all people, and even if you find a plan that works, it may suddenly stop working. The whole point is to just keep working, though.

On November 28th, I reached 2 years on SparkPeople. 2 years! I had all kinds of changes and successes happen in my first year, and this 2nd year was all about me learning to come back fighting when I struggled. I'm at the same place weight-wise that I was a year ago, but I've got a whole other year of experience under my belt now. This year has been eye-opening to me in a much more profound way than the first year's eye-opening experience of learning I could lose the weight. This year has been about what it takes to keep going even when those obvious successes aren't piling up month after month. The successes are still there, just deeper down where people can't obviously see. I know I have improvements to make, and I always will. So, knowing that and always going back to work on what I need to are successes in my book.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAURACONNER 4/9/2010 4:55PM

    Carolyn - You are so right - the changes we make in our journey - on the inside - are the most important. It is only be acknowledging those changes and honoring the importance of those changes - that help us to continue on our journey to the person - we know we can be. I am so happy that your journey is continuing on your path, your time, and your changes - in YOUR life - you are becoming the Carolyn you have always wanted to be. I am glad i know you, and i too am blessed, for this site and thanks for your continued support in my journey. Your friend, Laura emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 11/14/2010 11:05:31 PM

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Read about my first year (month to month) on SparkPeople

Friday, December 26, 2008

For my first year on SparkPeople, I wrote each four weeks/month about what I had learned, accomplished or done in that time. Here's the recap which used to sit on my main page. Since I have entered into the second year and the new year is coming, I thought it would be fitting to change things up once again. So, this is now a blog entry for everyone to get to know me and learn about the start of my journey.

Thanks for visiting with me!


I just want to make a real change in my eating and exercise habits. Having never been a dieter, I've just stayed in the same weight range and size for the past 15 years. I've just always been bigger, and I want to stop using that as an excuse. I don't think where I'm at physically is the healthiest I can be, and I want to change that. I don't want to be "skinny," and I don't want to be something my body will never be, but I think there's definitely a healthier and stronger me underneath my bad habits.

***4 weeks and 10 pounds down***
I'm really excited about the changes I've made in my health so far. Using the nutrition tracker and measuring my food has been especially helpful in controlling my portion size. What an eye-opener to see how much food I ate before and how many calories even a little something could be! I also feel my body getting stronger with all the exercise I've been getting. I look for ways to get activity into my days, which is not something I did before in any real way. I feel like the title of the page is there for a different reason from when I first typed it. Before, that's what I wanted, and now, that's what I've done.

**** 8 weeks and 3 more pounds down ****
This 4 weeks was not have the best start for me. I was so thrilled with my first weeks and 10 pounds gone, and then, I had a .8 pound gain. Now, that's not the biggest deal, but it took me right back to 190 exactly, a number I swore I had gone past forever. I'll admit, it threw me. Here I was a changed woman, and there I was back at a place that felt like something I'd left behind. Looking back now, I realized it was the thought that I hadn't changed that most affected me, that this could be just a temporary me and not the new me. Still, I only let it mentally affect me for a day and moved on with what I knew I had to do.

Now, the end of January has been the most amazing experience! My "One Month Mark on SP" post
was featured in the Community Highlight email, and I am so grateful to everyone who reached out to me. My fellow Sparkers are the most amazing people! I can not even describe the feelings I had reading post after post and comment after comment of congratulations, support and encouragement. I feel so lucky because it gave me a chance to visit with so many people through their sparkpages and learn about their story, their struggles, their triumphs, from people who've been doing this for years to those only a week in, and every one of those people enriches my own journey. Thank you so much, each of you, for taking the time to share with me! As one of my fellow Sparkers said to me, "You rock!"

*****12 weeks and 3.4 more pounds down*****
The highlights on SP these past weeks would be that at the beginning of the month, February, I became a co-leader of the Never Been Skinny team. It's such a wonderful team filled with people who are working towards a goal that they've never seen, and that's just so powerful to me. We are all trying to reverse a whole lifetime of who we've been, and it takes some strong, determined and positive people to do that, and I believe each and every one of us can do this! Now, at the end of this month, I became a SparkPeople Motivator thanks to all of you who said I'd motivated you. That is such an honor, and it makes me so happy to know that I've helped some of you even a little bit.

Now, as for my own journey towards a stronger and healthier me, well, I've hit a few bumps these past weeks. I was very happy at week 2 because I was one pound away from my 10% weight loss, which is 20 pounds. Then, week 3 and 4 were both weeks I gained. I did have some challenges on week 3, going out to eat way more than usual and not getting in my strength training as usual, so I'm assuming that's what undid some of my progress. However, during week 4, with the help of my fellow Sparkers, some who don't even know they helped, I re-energized my spirit and re-dedicated myself to doing the absolute best that I could. Though it's not reflected in my week4 weigh in, I know that I did my best and will keep on going in a positive direction. These changes are for life, and this is only a momentary hiccup. The good news is that I've actually hit the lowest weight I've been at in my adult life, not to mention the strongest and healthiest I've been, too! That's something to celebrate!

******16 weeks and 8.6 more pounds down*******
After getting refocused at the end of my 12 weeks, I felt like I was just an energizer bunny. It wasn't necessarily physical but mental. I revved up my inner spirit and just felt like anything was possible. I had a big second week loss of 4.4 pounds, which I don't strive for at all because I do think slow and steady wins the race, and I want my body and mind to be in synch about these changes I'm making. Still, it was a nice mental boost!

I have now removed exactly 25 pounds from my body, and it feels great. If I just had it gone without replacing it with healthy eating habits, muscle tone, physical activity and more inner strength, it wouldn't mean as much to me. For me, the work that I've put into this has meant so much, especially this last 5 weeks, where I realized that I couldn't just let myself get away with putting in the minimum amount of effort. It's a bad habit of mine, and I'm trying to get rid of it, along with any unhealthy ways. I feel like this is some kind of miracle that has happened because I have never been this weight or in this kind of physical shape as an adult, and yet, I did that. I made it happen, not some external thing. I've done the work necessary to bring about these changes. It's not always easy to be the person who chooses the better food or makes the time to exercise or focuses on this lifestyle, but the easy way didn't get me anywhere. Being dedicated to myself and my health has given me so much more than any extra food or extra hours sitting around ever has.

*******20 weeks and ? more pounds down*******
When I weighed in on week 17, I had stayed the same. Two days later, it was April, and I challenged myself not to step on the scale that month. I think the important thing about this journey is making healthy changes, and in the beginning, I struggled with weighing in. I have never been someone who got on a scale often (I'm sure some would say that didn't help my weight to go down), and it felt very weird to suddenly be stepping on it weekly. Although I definitely want to lose weight, I ultimately want to gain health and healthy habits. There were times when I stepped on the scale and felt disappointed because I had worked so hard at meeting my goals and didn't have the number to show for it. I think of that and wonder why it has to be that way. If I'm doing well, then I should be pleased and not let a number bring me down even a little bit. I'll definitely say that the weeks I had gains did motivate me, but I think it was because I was paying attention to the number instead of meeting my fitness and nutrition goals. If I would have paid closer attention to those, I would have definitely known I needed to make a change before the weigh in.

I've always strived to make each day a successful one as best as I can, so I'm really not doing anything much differently than before this month. The only thing I've changed is getting on the scale. I feel like it's really made me try to make the most of each day because it's really my only barometer of success. Instead of buckling down because of a low or no loss or a gain, I buckle down because the day before wasn't so great. If I've had a really great day, I try to stay at that level and see how many days I can keep that up. I read a really great article this month on not weighing yourself. A fellow Sparker (thanks, Don!) passed it along to me, and it speaks for more eloquently than I about why not weighing in is a good plan. It's titled "The Toss-Your-Scale Diet Plan," and you can read it here:
s-your-scale-diet-plan I know that I won't completely drop weighing in, for now, because having never been really healthy in my life, I'm still learning to build up and keep healthy habits. As its said, the scale is a tool, one of many, and I think it's a tool that still has some benefit to me, just not used as often as before.

For now, what I can say is that I've been doing pretty well the last four weeks, keeping my calories in the lower part of my range on most days, going over the top on a couple. I have been meeting my cardio goals but struggling with getting in my three days a week of strength training. I've worked on changing up my exercises to keep my body working effectively, and I've been concentrating on getting a good night's sleep. I still have a lot of healthy habits to fully adopt, but I've come a long way! April is my birthday month, and it's the first birthday that I've been this healthy, and that's the gift I've given myself this year!

*******March 30 to May 3 - 7.2 more pounds down *******
I've decided I enjoy weighing in monthly, or rather Sunday to Sunday as close to a month as I can get. I understand how getting on the scale often really helps some people, but that's just not me. I feel much more free just focusing on how I'm eating and how I'm exercising. I still want to reach a certain weight on the scale, but that's because I know it'll be the healthiest thing for me, just as I know making healthy decisions to get there is best.

In the last month I discovered, after looking at a pattern in my exercise and calorie intake, that in the two months where my cardio was hitting almost 1800 minutes/month and where I was eating at a lower calorie range that I was losing the least weight. Since I was still losing, I didn't know I was doing that whole eating fewer calories than my body needed for the amount of exercise I was doing and going into that whole starvation mode. Well, I feel like I found a good balance this month and am now more aware of how I need to fuel my exercise. I hadn't been cutting my calories down, but I had been exercising so much and didn't realize I was eating too little. My cardio numbers are actually back down to previous month's averages, and for now, that and gettting the strength training in 3 days a week is working out well. There's a whole lot to this nutrition and fitness than I ever thought about, which is definitely something I've changed and am still working on.

In other purely aesthetic news, I wore a bathing suit out in the world for the first time since all these changes. It felt great to be able to focus on the fun instead of how I looked in the bathing suit. I still wore my cover up around my waist, but I wasn't concerned about the times when I had to remove it like I was last year. I never let my weight keep me from enjoying life, but I was sure more aware of whether or not people were going to be able to see parts of me that I didn't want seen. I still have all kinds of extra me, but I feel much less concerned whether or not people see it. My body may be bigger than what it's supposed to be, but it's also stronger and healthier!

****** May 4 to May 31 - 2.2 more pounds down ******
This is my six month anniversary on SparkPeople. When I first signed up, I had no idea what amazing things would happen to me. I had no concept of who I would be a half a year later, and that's been a wonderful surprise. My class of November 25 - December 1, 2007 team just recently starting sharing six month anniversary tales. It's interesting to note that so many of those who responded thought they'd be farther along than they are now. I'm one of the odd ones out because I never imagined I'd be where I am. Never having really tried to be healthy like this, I had no concept that I could change this much in, what seems to me, such a short time.

While I'm enjoying the fruits of my six months on SP, May was definitely a trying month for me. I just couldn't seem to keep focused on my nutrition goals and let myself get swept away in treats all month long. I kept to my exercise goals very well, so that was definitely a plus. The one thing I did worse than anything else was really being part of the SparkPeople community. I logged on almost every day, but I didn't track my food well, and I wasn't posting, e-mailing or visiting my fellow Sparkers as much as I always have. I think that from the beginning, being part of this community has been a huge help in my success. It keeps me focused and makes me remind myself what I need to do.

It's a new month, and I've let go of all the missteps from May and take my lessons learned into June. I'm going to be using the new SparkStreaks feature to keep my focus on the new goals I've set. Even while I'm looking towards making this a great month, my plan is to go back to what I do best, focusing on making each day the most successful that I can.

My aesthetic news alert for May is that I am now in a size 12! I know sizes are larger than they were when I was last in a size 12 (darn clothing manufacturers playing with women's minds), but it feels amazing anyway. I went from my size 16 shorts that I had stored from years ago to buying brand new size 12 shorts and skirts. I look at the clothes and still can't believe that I actually fit into something that looks so small, comparatively. This month has been a really huge month in terms of people noticing and commenting on my changes. The combination of fitting into this smaller size and getting so much notice has been a nice ego boost. Of course, I'm always more pleased to tell them how I've adopted a healthy lifestyle instead of making the conversation all about a number on the scale.

*****June 1 to June 28 - 2.6 more pounds down*****
I went on vacation the first two weeks of this month, my first big vacation since starting these changes. I was really apprehensive about how I'd do staying at someone else's house, eating their food and having my schedule sort of thrown into the unknown. I did pretty well with everything, but I was nowhere near as diligent as I would have been at home. I did exercise and strength train well when I was there. Then, something funny happened two days before we left, and I just didn't feel like doing my cardio. I did my strength training the day before we left, and then, the next two weeks became a battle between me, myself and I to get back on track. It was like I just decided to get defiant with myself and wasn't going to do what I needed to do.

To this day, I don't know why, and I really puzzled over it considering my usual positive, go-getter attitude. Thankfully, I got over it even though it took a little over a week to pull myself out of it. I am glad it happened, though, because it really gave me insight into all those people who've written messages on the boards who say they just can't get the motivation going and just can't do it. I really didn't have a concept at all of what that felt like. Sure, I've had off days and lazy days, but not this extended internal struggle to get done what I knew I needed to do. I think the best thing I could say knowing what I do now is just take a step in the right direction. Even if you really don't want to, just do anything that can start the momentum going. I'd also say to definately talk about it on your teams or the main message boards or with a buddy, spark or otherwise.

So, with all the things that have gone on, I removed another 2.6 pounds this month. That means I have lost almost 5 pounds in the past two months. I have no problem with that considering these past two months I can see that that's the level of work I've put into myself. Last month, I was doing my exercise well but my eating wasn't great, and this month, my eating was good but my exercise wasn't. Gee, what does that prove? The old adage that exercise, combined with healthy eating are the way to go. Yup, pretty simple there.

So, I'm going back to doing all the things that made me successful and healthy. I am going to be continuing on my cardio streak that I started once I finally got out of my funk. I am going to be back to my strength training schedule that I let fall completely by the wayside while I was struggling to get my cardio back on track. I am going to be tracking my food diligently again because it works for me. I am going to be on SparkPeople, reading those messages, posting, reaching out to friends and new members. I am just going to be focused. I want to do this because I know how good I feel not just being healthier but also reaching my goals. To wax poetic, I'm going to make month eight so great!!

****June 29 to August 2 - 0 pounds down****
Yes, five weeks have come and gone, and I am no closer to and no farther from my goal weight. Now, this is not to say that I didn't accomplish what I wanted at the end of the last month, to make July a great month. I totally did that. I exercised faithfully every day, ate balanced meals with small treats every now and then and really focused on doing what had made me successful in the beginning. My answer to why I didn't lose the weight? I have no idea.

At the beginning of July, I realized that if I lost just four pounds I would then just be inside the "Healthy" BMI range. I was pumped! I couldn't believe that when I started this back in the end of November that I was "obese" and now I'd be "healthy." I thought, "yeah, those past two months I've just seen a little over 2 pounds gone, but there was a reason for that, and now, I'm dedicated to making this a great month, and it's only four pounds, and it's not like I don't have it in me." Although I had been faithfully keeping to my once-a-month-weigh-in plan, the pull of having that four pounds gone made me a bit neurotic. For the last few weeks, every 3 or 4 days, I'd get on the scale and watch as it moved every so slightly up and down. I couldn't figure it out. I just kept thinking I'd see a significant change, and I didn't. So, getting on the scale this morning, I was not shocked.

Maybe getting on the scale and seeing the non-movement all along helped or maybe I'm just getting much more philosophical about it all, but all I know is I rocked this month and nothing can take that away from me, certainly not a number on the scale! I was all over the healthy living, and if that doesn't translate to pounds lost, then so be it. I actually think there's something funny about me and my expectation months. When I got all excited about getting to my 10% goal and started anticipating it, it didn't happen. Then, this month, anticipating a "healthy" BMI, and that doesn't happen. Maybe I get mentally stressed with the anticipation, and my body doesn't respond well. Then, I stop worrying about it, and my body responds to that. Sounds like a working theory to me because, as I said, I just don't know. I'll stop thinking about it and see what happens.

So, the good news for this month, aside from being a strong, healthy me these last five weeks, is that yesterday I was the Featured Motivator. I was in and out all day and didn't even get a chance to go to the SparkPages main page and take a look at my time in the spotlight, but I got a kick out of getting old and new friends dropping by to congratulate me. Thanks, guys! It really does inspire me to know that other people are looking in on this adventure I've got going. There's just really no shortage of wonderful people to meet on SparkPeople!

***August 3 to August 30 - 2.4 pounds down***
I'll start with the positive: I ate well this month. While I didn't track my nutrition well this month (not one of the positives), I was eating what I generally eat, and I was keeping on eye on my portion sizes. Now, I'd like to say the 2.4 pounds is a positive, but with my poor cardio and strength training numbers, I might have just lost muscle. I have no idea. I wasn't on SparkPeople every day or even every week, and while I have been quite sick for the past week and a half, there's really not much reason for the other 2 and a half weeks. I know September is going to be a better month, so I'll just have to be happy with brushing off the cobwebs of August and starting anew. I am so grateful for the friends on here who make it a place I want to return to for support and motivation. You guys still rock!

** August 31 to September 27 - 1.6 pounds down **
I am happy to be finally rid of my sickness that I had at the end of last month. It lasted well into this month, and it really had me down. Lifting myself out of the hole of no exercise has been my goal at the end of this month. I was literally getting one or two days in and no strength training. I felt defeated and discouraged, and I really worried that I wasn't going to get out of the hole. I sort of had a little pity party for myself, telling myself that maybe I wasn't changed. I had some great support, both on SparkPeople and in my life, that really boosted me up and didn't let me get too down on myself. The key was that I talked about it and let people know that I didn't feel strong enough on my own. We all have to reach out for support when we're not up to supporting ourselves. I can't say I'm out of the hole, even if I'd like to say so, but I can say that for the last four days I have done four days of cardio and two days of strength training, and I'm just going to keep taking steps in the right direction. One of the things I promised when I was sick was that I was not going to waste the times when I felt well. There are too many people in the world who have valid reasons for not being able to get up and do something physical, and 'just not feeling like it' isn't one of them. So, I go into my 11th month feeling positive, and I'm ready to wholeheartedly reach for my goals!

By the way, some good news this month, besides feeling better and getting more active is that with this month's weight loss, I have moved just inside a Healthy BMI! I know it's just my height and weight calculation, and it's just one tool, but having that "Healthy" label really feels like a great accomplishment especially because I know what I've done to get into that range, and I really have made a healthy me!

*September 28 to November 1 - 2 pounds up*

Yes, you read that right. Not pounds down, pounds up. To pile on the ignominy, that takes me out of the Healthy BMI and back to Overweight. Not only that, I went back into the 160's, which if you know about me, once I leave a ten's place behind, I like to kiss it goodbye forever. Still, I'm happy with this development. It's the slap in the face when you're hysterical, the head dunk in the cold water when you're out of it, the kick in the pants when you get complacent. I needed this, truly. I have been going along for three months with this attitude I couldn't shake. I've been doing enough to get by, and that's not good enough.

So, if you read about last month, you see that I felt positive and was really looking forward to making the month a positive one. Well, do you want the excuses..err, I mean reasons why it didn't go that way? I went on a two week vacation at the beginning of October. I basically was not as strong as I was last time I went on a two week vacation, and while I definitely made an effort to eat well and exercise, it was also definitely half-hearted. I was just letting myself off the hook if I felt like eating something unhealthy or in an unhealthy portion. I exercised some, but I didn't really make it a priority. I came back from vacation with that attitude, and it came back to bite me in the behind.

I am heading into my one year anniversary on SparkPeople at the end of this month, and this is not the way I want my first year to end. So, I am glad that I've gained. It makes me realize fully what I've been doing. To have gotten the moniker of "Healthy" when I truly wasn't being my definition of it makes me realize that I want to earn that this month and into my second year. I want to get there having lived the healthy life I know that I am more than capable of, being the person who makes positive choices and decisions. I haven't felt like that person, consistently, for months.

So, here's my plan. I will stop expecting myself to be at the place mentally and physically when I was in top form. A lot of my problems come because I don't see the same output that I had going months ago, and I feel bad about that, which doesn't make me feel positive. I am going to get outside more. Staying in during the summer to exercise was a must because of the weather, but when I stay home now, I am not getting my exercise in consistently. Being around others makes me feel accountable, even if they don't know me. I am going to stop thinking about external pressures like reaching a time- or weight-sensitive goal. Right now, it's about getting back on track and staying there. As much as I can, I am going to be active on SparkPeople. I definitely noticed a correlation between my time on SP and my motivation and activity levels. I'm sure it's a chicken/egg thing because I'm not sure which one affected the other. Either way, I need the wonderful support system I have on here to help me get the levels back up to where I want them.

Normally I have some good news and bad news to report, but this time it turns out the bad news is the good news. It's all in one's perspective and attitude. I may say it a lot, but it's always true: I feel very positive about where I'm headed. I believe in myself because no matter what, I haven't quit trying, and I never will.

**November 2 to November 27 - 2 pounds down**

Happy one year Sparkiversary to me! It is fitting that I had to weigh in the day after Thanksgiving because I am so thankful to have had SparkPeople this past year and to have had all the support from my fellow Sparkers. Yes, I was not so pleased about having to weigh in the next morning after the biggest eating day of the year, but if I had learned anything over the last year, I knew I could make smart decisions and not ruin the last few weeks' progress.

Last month's gain definitely snapped me back onto the right track. I needed a wake-up call, and that did the trick. I have really enjoyed these last few weeks of feeling strong and powerful again. I hadn't been feeling that way for several months, just sort of limping along, doing my best. Sometimes that's all we'll be doing for one reason or another (after all, life does not work around our design), but when you feel that power that allows you to do what needs to be done, it's a great feeling. I will enjoy it while it lasts and know that no matter what I'm always that person even if circumstances are holding me down.

So, with that 2 pounds gone again, I have moved back into the health BMI range. Yay! I am just so pleased to end my first year on SP on a high note, even though I know all these changes this past year are a high note unto themselves. Still, it really feels like a validation of all I've done. In honor of this, I'm going to give myself a new moniker, "Healthy_Carolyn" to signal the change I have made. I'm still me, but now I'm a healthier, stronger version!

You've read about all these changes I've gone through this first year, so here's a little roundup of all the outer stats. I have removed 40.8 pounds. I have taken off 7.75 inches from my waist, 6 inches off my hips and 1 off my neck. I went from a size 16/18 to a size 12, and like I mentioned before, I went from an obese BMI to a healthy BMI. These few lines encompass so much more that has gone on for me. While I am very proud to have accomplished these outer changes, it is the work I have put into changing that means the most to me. So, I guess I have lived up to the title I selected a year ago, I have made real change!

I also wrote about my experience of changing in this last year in a post in the Staying Motivated forum which can be found here:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZELLAZM 12/30/2009 5:55AM

    Wow, it was great to relive those highlights with you - I even remember some of them - like when you started the new team, changed your name, hit a healthy BMI. You continue to be an inspiration, Carolyn! I'm looking forward to hearing your plans for the year ahead!

Blessings, dear Spark friend,

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SORAIYA 12/25/2009 9:27AM

    Amazing....a good start to my Christmas morning...reading about your struggles and overcoming them. Wish you all the best for 2010.

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YUMBET 1/2/2009 7:59PM

    Wow, that is all I can say....Wow. You have really gone through so much over the past year Carolyn. As I read about your year, I thought about how many times you have motivated me and helped me(and others) during your time on SP. I absolutely LOVE your positive attitude throughout it all. Keep up the hard work.

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