Monday, February 22, 2010
If your taking the time to read this, thank you. This is my first SP blog, and I wanted to document the events that convinced me that I could become a healthier people if I wanted to, and that led me to be a dedicated SparkPeple user.
When I joined SparkPeople in June of last year, I was treating like I have treated other diet programs and exercise routines that I have tried in the past. That is to say I was really into it for the first few weeks or so tracking every food and exercise obsessively, but as the summer went on, my interest in the website waned, and I found my self coming back less and less. Of course, I started to slack off on my exercise, and I become less concerned about the food I was eating. I had also just lost my job at the time, and it seemed impossible to job hunt for hours on end, make time for my family, do household chores, and keep up a healthier lifestyle, so I put it on the back burner for a while.
Then in August , I made an important decision that helped me look at my life and my health from a different perspective.
I had picked up a couple of unfortunate habits in college that had stayed with me for many years smoking and dipping. While I was never a pack a day smoker, I did enjoy a cigarette during my morning drive to school, during break in the smoking section of the student center cafeteria, or while having a drink with friends. When I was ready to stop smoking, it was very easy At our annual Halloween Party 3 years ago, I informed everyone that I was smoking my last cigarette, and it was.
The dipping was a more challenging problem. I felt so very mellow with a good Skoal buzz going. I could put in a dip, turn on a video game, and just veg for HOURS. Or dipping on a long drive, or during a movie. I could find a reason to dip very easily. But I was always worried about the effects of dipping. I'd freak everytime I got a bump or sore in my mouth. It would make me sick to see my gum line worn away from my teeth. On top of that, I didn't want people to know that I had such a gross habit. While I had tried to quit many times before, it just never took.
So here it was, August 2009. I had been dipping for 15 years, and I realized I was about to quit for good. No fanfare, no weaning myself off of it, no last time 8 hour gaming session to commemorate the event. I just told my wife that I was done. Then I put up a green post it on my bathroom mirror, and paying homage to the Hulk movie I'd just watched, I wrote "Days Without Incident" at the top, with a single hash make below it. For the next 5 days, every night after I brushed my starting-to-get-healthier teeth, I'd place another hash mark on the green post in note, feeling confident that I was done.
On the seventh day, my willpower caved, and all the post it notes in the world couldn't have kept me from buying a can of sweet, life giving Apple Skoal.
That night, looking at MY post it note on the mirror, I had to scratch out my six day streak. I was back at zero. I knew that I never wanted to lose that streak again. I threw the remainder of the can out, and braced myself for the upcoming week. I made one week, then two. Talking to my doctor about my goal, he told me that it would take about 60 days to brake a habit, but on the bright side, if I never did it again, I would never have to quit again. So I wrote those words on my post-it, and set my sight on 60 days. Then 90. At some point after that, I stopped marking days, but I kept the note on my mirror as a reminder that I can overcome the most difficult of challenges if I stay focused.
While I was in the middle of my tobacco fight, I started reading the SparkPeople e-mails that were piling up in my inbox. I discovered that the site was more than just tracking data, and signing up for teams that I never participated in. I saw people who had never met offering genuine support for others, encouraging them to get those 8 glasses of water in, or congratulating them on another successful weigh in. I knew at that point that I had not only found my next challenge, but I would not have to go this one alone.
It amazes me how much better I feel just logging in to the site and seeing messages from people who are sharing the same joys and frustrations as I am on this journey. It helps me to know that when I am suffering through one more set of jump lunges on EA Active, I can go gripe about it with my team, and then we can all share the success of completing one more workout, burning off another 100 calories, or discuss how we are going to make it through a dinner outing with our friends this weekend.
This is an excellent community, I'd I'm proud to be a SparkPerson!