Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I've bounced back and forth with using SparkPeople for a while now (clearly!), and I've put some thought into why that could be. After pondering for a while I've come to realize something about my Spark experience: it becomes a chore. Tracking food, tracking exercise, reading articles, posting blogs, even huddling in SparkTeams. It all becomes too much. I don't have a lot of free time in my days, so I tend to not want to spend it poking around SparkPeople or trying to find the perfect match for a food that I'm eating from 75 different user-made entries of the same thing.
I like to spend my evenings doing things. Playing games with my husband, watching a movie, cooking dinner, going for a walk (even if it is to go get ice cream!). Sparking can get in the way of life! So I wouldn't Spark, and I wouldn't eat healthy, and I wouldn't exercise. I would tell myself, "If I'm not tracking it, what's the point? If I'm going to do it, I've got to track it, so I might as well not do it!"
While thinking about this issue and how to resolve it, a commercial came to mind. It was a commercial to help people quit smoking. In it, a lady mixes a daiquiri in a blender in her office before going out to have her smoke break. The message? "If you don't have to drink every time you smoke, you don't have to smoke every time you drink. Break the habits."
This got me thinking about my relationship with Sparking. Just because I don't track my food or my exercise, just because I don't feel like taking the time to enter the recipe for whatever I made for dinner, just because I don't feel like writing a blog about my achievements doesn't mean that those things shouldn't happen. I can ride my bike home from work without earning the SparkPoints for it, and I will still benefit. I can eat a healthy breakfast without tracking it, and it will still be just as healthy! If I do yoga every morning, I will still become stronger and more flexible whether or not I enter the time into my fitness tracker!
Losing weight and getting fit isn't about earning SparkPoints (although that can be a fun incentive!). It's about looking and feeling better. It's about being able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. It's about fitting into the clothes that I used to fit into (like my wedding dress). It's about not having pain in my hips and knees from sitting or standing too long. It's about being a better dancer, with greater strength and flexibility. It's about not filling my body with junk, and feeling healthier for it every day.
I have broken another set of shackles tying me down. I have destroyed another excuse for me not to do what I know is right for my body, and my future. I will keep moving forward!
Monday, June 17, 2013
It's been quite some time since my last blog. I learned a lesson over the weekend. A couple, actually. I figured I'd share them here.
Lesson 1) This lesson is sort of a relearning of a lesson I already knew. My husband and I are quite short on cash right now. In an effort to save money, we have planned our meals for the next week. This is something that will not only keep us from over-spending on take-out food, but also over-eating on take-out food! If I can keep us on track with this habit in the following weeks, I'll consider it Lesson Re-Learned!
Lesson 2) Exercise breaks are not necessarily a good thing. If one is injured, or strained a muscle, or too tired, or something of the like, taking a day to relax and let your body recover is a fantastic thing. However, taking 3 weeks off because you're lazy and full of excuses means that the next time you try to do something, it's going to be a lot harder. Your arms won't be able to lift as much, your legs won't be able to run as far, your abs won't be able to crunch as much. If you're going to take a day off, even if it's just because you're lazy and full of excuses, make sure you pick it back up the next day, or you will lose what you have worked so hard to gain. I haven't exercised in quite some time, and when I went to belly dance practice on Sunday I could barely keep my arms up through one song because they were so tired for no reason other than lack of use. My arms are one of the things I need to focus on the most, as they tend to get lazy. If I want them to improve, I need to work on it more than once in a rare while. Lesson Learned.
Lesson 3) Over the weekend, I went out for dinner as a Late-Mother's-Day/Early-Father's-Day celebration for my parents. We went to an Amish restaurant that has an all-you-can-eat family-style dinner. It included chicken, roast beef, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, bread, salad bar and dessert. I ate it all. I only had one piece of chicken and only one piece of ham, but I had a pile of roast beef, a REALLY BIG pile of stuffing with gravy, a large pile of everything else, and then a second pile of stuffing with gravy (stuffing is my favorite!). For the dessert I had peach pie with ice cream on top. I only ate half of that. Everything was delicious! However, I felt horribly ill for at least an hour after eating. The lesson learned? Just because you have access to all of the delicious food doesn't mean that you have to eat all, all at once, until you burst. If I had scaled down the amount of helpings that I had with everything (except the ham and chicken) then I would have had more room for my pie, and would not have felt so sick afterwards. Lesson learned.
Lesson 4) Motivation is a tricky thing. It can be hard to come by for some. It can be really hard to come by for me. So, when I get excited about doing something, especially if that something is an exercise, I really want to be able to jump on that right away. Even if the enthusiasm doesn't last, I want to make the best of it while it's still here. Such is the case with Datura Online. The belly dance troupe I am part of has decided that we will get a subscription to the online video library of moves, drills, etc. However, the consensus is to wait until everyone has more free time, which won't be until mid-July. But I want to start now. But I can't start without my dance sisters. Which puts me in a difficult place. So I decided that I have to work around it. I figured that the best way would be to keep my enthusiasm would be to do all that I can to prepare myself for the videos that I will soon be enjoying. Yoga daily, stretching, weight-training and cardio would be the perfect thing to build up my body for challenging belly dance drills and moves. This will keep me motivated not only for the access to the videos, but also to do things until I have that access! It's possible that I can apply this motivation strategy to other aspects of my fitness routine, as well, keeping anything from stopping me from moving forward. Lesson Learned!
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I've been thinking recently about what motivates me. What really moves me to do something. There's what motivates me to work, clean my house, things like that. I have to do those. There's nothing really telling me that I have to work out or eat right, though. Sure, I know that if I want to fit into my old clothes again I have to lose weight, and I know that to lose weight I have to eat right and exercise, but none of that really seems as pressing as paying bills or doing laundry. I don't know what it is exactly about this whole losing weight thing that just doesn't seem as important. I know that in actuality it IS more important. It's for my health, and my future. But something about it always makes it take a back seat to everything else. So I figured I'd analyze it, see what it is about getting healthy that isn't as motivating as doing homework or taking the garbage out.
Fitness is one of those ongoing things. It's a daily thing that you have to do. Like eating, or breathing. If you want to be fit, you have to do it daily. Consistency is important. I know I'm not a terribly consistent person. But I can do things consistently most of the time, if there's something that says that I need to (like going to work, or doing my homework) so I know being able to do something consistently isn't my problem.
Personal accountability is another thing that is really needed for fitness. You have to hold yourself accountable for your actions (or lack thereof). If I don't go to work, I could lose my job. If I don't do my homework, I get bad grades. If I don't clean the litter boxes, the cats start to use other things as their bathroom. All of these things have something else that holds me accountable for taking care of them. I'm not terribly accountable for taking care of myself. If I eat 2 dozen chicken wings, no one is going to force upon me any adverse consequences. The only adverse consequences I may see are from the numbers on the scale (or the tape measure, or the clothing tag). While that does give me some outside accountability, I've been dealing with increasing numbers in those areas for years now. It doesn't bother me all that much. I'm also really forgiving. No matter the change in those numbers, it's going to stop me from doing anything, so really it must not be that important, right?
And why, I ask myself, doesn't it bother me? Confidence. That's why. I have confidence in my appearance. Even with all my weight gain, I still have quite the pretty face (which I had to convince myself that I even did have in the first place over the course of several years). I know that when I dress up and go out, I still look very nice. I still get lots of compliments and I can still hold my husband's attention whenever I want. I've become okay with the fact that I'm over 240 pounds. I've become okay with the fact that I have to spend extra money to get a dress that fits me (this is partially due to the fact that I've always been tall, and spending extra money for things that fit right comes with the territory). I'm REALLY okay with the fact that my weight gain has added extra size to my bust line! There's not anything that I want to do that I can't, at this point. I can still climb stairs, go hiking, spend an evening dancing, reach high and low, sit or stand or lay however I want. I can tie my own shoes, strap myself into a corset, and still touch every square inch of my own back. My life is not effected by my current weight. I'm still quite the happy person despite my size. For most people who have been successful in their weight loss journeys, they have some life-changing moment when their daily activities are hampered by their weight, and they realize that their weight is what is making them unhappy, and then they make the change. My weight isn't making me unhappy.
So what motivates me? What could push me, move me to make the changes that I need in my life?
I love that when I'm feeling down, or having a bad week, day, or hour, I can pop onto SparkPeople and find tons of support from others also having bad weeks, days, or hours. I think that engaging in more here on SparkPeople has kept me with my tracking and my exercise. SparkPeople has become something fun for me now, earning SparkPoints, gaining levels, interacting with other people who share my struggle. It's kept me from quitting so far, which is a really important part of things. But I'm still spending almost every day over my calorie limit. I'm still not doing as well as I know I could with exercising, eating right, and monitoring my progress.
So, what on this Earth could motivate me? What can break my old habits so I can form new ones?
Thinking back to other times in my life when I made major changes there was some event, some catalyst, that pushed me into taking the direction that I took. The life-changing events that others have faced usually involve some traumatic life event (heart attack or the like), or something having to do with their children (not being able to play at the park with them, etc.). I don't have children, and I don't want to wait until I'm diagnosed with diabetes or something to change my life. What's more, the catalysts elsewhere in my past have never been so dramatic, and certainly had nothing to do with my health. And this isn't about my health, not yet. This is about my mind over my body.
(At this point I paused to re-read my analysis, and to ponder on what might work for me...)
After a moment of thought, these are my downfalls:
External forces and Accountability - Nothing on the outside is forcing me to do this, It's not effecting me majorly anyway, and I'm lazy, so why should I bother?
Confidence - I know I can lose weight. I've done it before. And I'm not really that unhappy with my body as it is. Sure, there are things that I'd like to change, but it's not going to have a major effect on my life. With no deadlines (except those set by me) and no accountability (except my own), I can really just lose weight whenever I want. I can do it any time. It's easy. I know how. and since I know how and I know I can do it, I don't have to do it now. Or today. Or next week. I can do it whenever I want.
My cure? Spite.
I'm a very spiteful person. Even from earlier in this post, it's evident ("No matter the change in those numbers, it's going to stop me from doing anything"). The last time I made a major change in my life, It was because my husband (then my boyfriend) said he though I couldn't do it. I have the confidence to do whatever I want. The problem is that right now, I don't have the give-a-damn. Everyone always says "You can do it!" "You're so pretty!" "You look great!" and my internal response is a casual "Yeah, I know." (I don't mean for that to sound arrogant at all. Usually when I get those compliments, I've put hours into making myself look nice, so I damn-well better look great!) What I need is someone to honestly say that they think I can't do it. Because you know what? Forget them! Not only am I positive that I can do it, I'll show them that I can do it! I'll prove it to them! And then won't they feel dumb! HAHAHAHAHA!
Except no one says that. And I'm pretty sure I've got too much confidence to say it to myself. I have to find a way to break this confidence problem in order to turn it into spite. I'm just not sure how...
Monday, February 18, 2013
It's been about 4 days since I really tracked everything here on SparkPeople and really paid attention to what I was doing and eating on those days. I also haven't really excercised much in that span on time. I figured it would be a good idea to go through those days and see what could have been done differently.
Day 1 - Thursday
I took the day off of work on Thursday. My mother has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks now, and she needed someone to sit with her for the day. My sister and father had both taken time off of work to be with her during the day, so it was my turn. I had to be up early, earlier than I do for work. I didn't do my exercises that morning because of the earlier time to be up. I was at the hospital by 8:00 am, and stayed until about 4:30 pm. Through that time, I mostly didn't eat much. I had a protien bar and a bottle of green tea. I also didn't do much physical activity that day. I helped my mother get out of and back into bed a couple of times, and I walked through the hospital to get her water a few times also. Certainly nothing major. My husband joined me at the hospital around 2:00, and he brought me some pizza from the restaurant downstairs. I ate more than half, but I made sure to log it when I got home. At that point I also consumed a can of V8 Fusion. It was delicious, and healthy for me, but really high in calories for just a drink.
When I got home from the hospital, I jumped onto the task of making dinner. Following several SparkRecipies (with some minor alterations), I made baked falafel, garlic naan, tzatziki sauce. I also made some roasted veggies and tahini to go with the dinner. My little sister and her boyfriend joined my husband and I, and had quite a nice night. I went over my calorie range, but only by a pile of roasted veggies, so I don't think it was that bad. I ended up going to bed late.
Day 2 - Friday
Friday I also woke up late and did not do my morning exercise. This was due to the fact that I had been up so late the night before. I was still feeling exhausted from spending the day at the hospital, so I really wanted my sleep. I started my day off with a horrible breakfast of Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A, but I didn't consume it quickly, so it pretty much lasted me all day. I was expecting to head home, eat some leftovers from the night before, and have a nice evening at home with my husband. Instead, he surprised me by taking me out to dinner at Bravo. It was a very nice meal, I only had one drink, and I tried to order a health-conscious meal of citrus-grilled mahi-mahi that I only ate half of. However, I also had soup, and a fried ravioli appetizer. I didn't track any of it. I just enjoyed the night. When we went home I did some homeowrk, stayed up late poking around online, then went to bed.
Day 3 - Saturday
I woke up at a reasonable time on Saturday. My husband and I had leftover Chick-Fil-A for breakfast, which was not the best start to the day. I went out shopping with a friend, and only had some tea while I was out (I wasn't really hungry for anything else). When I got home I had some chips and salsa with my husband, then went to a party, where I consumed more chips and salsa, barbecue potato chips, pizza, and alcohol. Again, I did not track any of it.
Day 4 - Sunday
Sunday I woke up and madea healthy breakfast consisting of quinoa, bluberries, almonds and bananas. I likely ate far too much of it. I then did some belly dancing, then sewing for most of the rest of the day. For lunch I had pasta with veggies, in an olive oil and butter sauce. Dinner was leftovers from Thrusday and Friday, which I also did not track.
While I know my biggest issue was that I tracked next to nothing over the weekend, I really need to know *why* I didn't track, exercise, or pay attention to what I was eating. Is it just that it's a break from my weekday routine? Is it that I spend my weekend doing fun things and not focusing on doing things that count as "work" to me? Is a lifestyle that relaxes more on the weekends than during the week something that is sustainable for weight loss? I'm not sure. It seems that breaking my "weekdady routine" is what causes me to lose track of things, but how can I keep my weekday routine going through the weekend when I don't do the things that make the weekdays so structured (like work)?
Monday, February 11, 2013
I was horrible over the weekend. Takeout chinese, pizza, alcohol, mini pretzel dogs, a party with chips and popcorn and all the essentials. I gained 4 or more pounds in one day. Saturday was not my strongest day. But I got a lot of walking in on Sunday, despite having eaten nothing but crap all day and night. The weekend was full of me not paying attention to what I ate, drank, etc. I didn't even log in to SparkPeople at all on Saturday. It was a rough weekend.
Today, I was right back on track! I met all of my FastBreak goals, I tracked everything I ate, and stayed within my calorie range. I even made sure my other nutrients were right up there, too! I drank plenty of water, and even made a healthy dinner, using quinoa for the first time! The one thing I didn't do today was my morning yoga. I opted for the extra sleep, because I knew I was taking a test in one of my classes tonight, and I'd need my mind to be sharp and awake for it.
Tomorrow I do my morning yoga and continue to track and meet my goals. I don't even feel like the weekend slowed me down at all! As long as I take more steps forward than I take back, I'll keep moving in the right direction!
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