Sunday, July 29, 2012
This is an open letter to the Spark Guy - yeah I know he has a real name - I know it is Chris Downie - but to me he is the Spark Guy.
So to the Spark Guy I want to say - geez how do I say this so he gets it?
Thank you so much, from the bottom of my previously-over-stressed heart for creating this beautiful community of encouraging people!!
Did you have any idea when you started Sparkpeople what would happen? Did you know that people would jump at the chance to change their own lives? Did you know that so many of us just needed a little info, a few tools and some cheerleaders and then we really COULD do it???
I had just about given up and embraced my future as a heavy woman with a steadily increasing pants size... I had tried weight watchers, but there was too much emphasis on fake food and rules imposed by others.. I was doing a little walking, but didn't think I could really make a change. I was realizing, hopelessly, that I might face diabetes or heart disease in just a few years. I weighed 252 pounds and was feeling ugly and clumsy and deeply ashamed of myself.
And then - magic.
I logged back into sparkpeople this February and started over. I resisted tracking at first, but that was okay cause nobody shamed me or bothered me about it. I just kept reading other people's blogs about how tracking was really helping them.
So I started tracking and got honest about what I was eating.
I resisted the idea of weighing and measuring anything - thought it was obsessive and anti-freedom... Then I noticed how the truly successful losers were weighing and measuring...
So I bought a food scale and started in...now I weigh and measure everything, and track it, online no less...Oh yeah - and I also read the daily feedback about my nutrition.
I resisted the idea of making a page or writing a blog, until I caved and started making connections with other people. Perfect strangers now compliment me, cheer me on and encourage me daily and I try to set aside some time every day to do the same...
At first I thought I would just eat a little less and move a little more and that would be IT!! But then I heard so much about fruits and veggies and water that I gulped and started changing WHAT I eat...
With so much water and so many veggies, I wasn't so hungry anymore. I started caring about the quality of food I ate and served to my family. I started to leave behind the empty, sugary, snacky things. I joined a friend in skipping sugar and flour. As processed foods played a smaller role in my life I started having a lot more energy. I had more room in my daily calories for protein and healthy oils like olive oil and for almonds and cashews. Steamed carrots started tasting sweet to me. I no longer needed to dunk artichokes in butter..
Then came the crazy day in May when we tossed half a birthday cake in the trash because nobody in the family wanted to eat it. I stood there and stared at that cake for a long time... What had happened to me? How are Ben and Jerry and the Cheetos people making any money these days, now that I'm gone???
Spark Guy - thanks to you and your staff, my family is living a very different life. My young boys see their mom exercising every day and eating really healthy. My whole household drinks water morning, noon and night. We need to buy about 3 more brita pitchers! My 12 year old daughter who used to ONLY eat carbs will now eat certain veggies and chooses to put some protein in her noodle dishes. My 18 year old daughter is going to a kick-boxing class. My husband (who has heart disease in his family and had high blood pressure) has lost 30 pounds and has brought his blood pressure down to normal.
And me? In 6 months I have lost 60 pounds, re-entered onederland for the first time in 20 years and have broken up with the plus size clothes department!! I can run up and down stairs, walk an average of 4.5 miles a day and no longer feel fat, frumpy and clumsy. I smile when I see myself in a mirror. I am slowly working my way towards being a runner. Slowly because when I push too hard I get hurt. I am more active, way happier and a lot more fun to be around. I am confident that in time I will lose the next 60 pounds and continue to become stronger and more fit.
It's not that I feel like a new person - it's that I feel like the person I used to be - she was buried alive and she has dug herself out. I am 46 years old, but the person I am now is an awful lot like the willful, spunky girl I used to be at 16.
So dear spark guy, do I owe it all to you?
No - of course not - so many people should get credit - my best friend who keeps showing up to walk with me, my husband for not giving up on me, my kids for encouraging me, all my spark friends who check up on me and write to me and share their stories...
But you are on the list - you and your staff and I think probably your wife who stood by while you were formulating this crazy idea to sink a lot of money into a website and then GIVE IT AWAY for free...
So thank you, thank you, thank you spark guy.
I hope you look up from your desk every so often and really think about what you have created and take a minute to be satisfied that your work has created a place where people can encourage one another to make essential changes.
Sparkpeople is the best example I see of all the good the internet can do - thank you for having the vision and the commitment to make this a reality!