So I recently crossed the one year anniversary of deciding that I needed to focus on getting fit and joining SparkPeople. Man, in some respects, it doesn't seem as if it should be that long ago, and in other respects, it seems like a lifetime ago. In some respects, I guess both are right.
Last year around this time I had a high school reunion where I found myself really worn out after a day of walking around the D.C. area. It wasn't a particularly intense walk, with lots of stopping and looking, but by the end of the day, I was worn out. I also realized that although I had gotten good at hiding my gut with loose clothes and using my height as an excuse to always end up in the back row for pictures, it wasn't shaking the fact that I was on weight gain trajectory that led me straight to where my dad is now... obese, winded with even mild exertion, near diabetic, and with an assortment of other weight related medical issues. It was not a path I wanted to take, so I resolved to make some changes.
In this past year, I've really followed the SparkPeople suggested methodology for weight loss (and life change). I've set many small achievable goals, most of which I accomplished. After hitting one goal, I'd build upon that success and set a slightly more ambitious goal. This has led to pretty remarkable (to me at least) transformation. The most apparent change is probably that I've lost more than 35 pounds. And although I didn't do body fat measurements before I started, I imagine most of that weight was in body fat. I went from having size 38 pants being snug (I had just started to buy size 40 clothing) to being back to a size 32. And, for the first time in my life, I have well defined abs (not exactly a chiseled 6 pack, but they are certainly there). More importantly though, I went from being winded by doing a 20 minute brisk walk to running my first half marathon (my second one is scheduled for September). I went from being a couch potato to becoming a triathlete (just did my 3rd triathlon yesterday, and have several more planned before the year's end). I went from watching TV till 2am to waking up at 5:30am to do an hour and half of swim practice. I actually go on at length about some of the sheer improvements in fitness across a wide range of activities (pushups, pullups, running, aerobic capability, etc) but in short... I've discovered my inner athlete.
Anyway, the great thing is that I don't consider myself to have been on a diet program or even a fitness program at all. It's not like now that I've hit my goals, I will revert to my old ways. Over the course of the past year, I've mostly changed my lifestyle to be much more active and to be more aware of what I eat. As a result of the lifestyle change, my body has changed. I see no reason to go back to my old lifestyle and my old poor food habits, so I don't see this as being a yo-yo kind of weight loss that you so often read about from folks that decide to "do atkins" or "do southbeach diet". Of course, no one ever thinks they will be part of that majority of people who regain their lost weight, but for now at least, I am having too much fun with my running and triathlons to see me going back to my old ways. We'll see what the next year has in store for me...
P.S. Oh, and I know some of you are probably thinking (because I would be too if I didn't already know the difference) that I just finished saying I wasn't "on a program" yet also remember me crediting SparkPeople for some of my success. The difference I see is that SparkPeople is in a lot of respects simply a set of tools (and information, and community) that you can use if you like but that isn't necessarily prescriptive in what you can/can't eat or even on how much.