I spent 2011 reinventing my physical self, and along the way I've reinvented the inner me too. As with most people, I joined Sparkpeople with a weight loss goal after an adult lifetime of yo-yoing weight and a struggle with obesity. Therefore, most of my benchmarks in 2011 were scale-related as I focused on a goal to lose 72 pounds. I reached the weight loss goal on December 2, 2011 and have been in maintenance ever since. I had tried many weight loss programs in my thirty-plus years of weight struggles, but I never reached the point where I transitioned to maintenance before.
My success was due to following a simple program set out by Spark: track my food and track my fitness. Of course that involved a lot LESS food (or actually, just a lot "better" food) and a lot MORE fitness. I transitioned from using exercise as a means to get ready for a special adventure, such as a backpacking trip or vacation, to a daily routine. The support community on Spark was also vital to my success - in fact I'd say it was probably the #1 reason for my success. Seeing the example of those in maintenance while I was at the beginning of my journey; relating to those with similar stories throughout my journey; becoming a mentor to others as I moved closer to my goal; and simply experiencing the warmth and encouragement of many stranger/friends meant the difference between achieving my goals versus chalking up another wasted effort. In addition to the support of individual Spark friends, I was bolstered by teammates in challenge teams such as the Biggest Loser Challenges, which were really more about enforcing my fitness lifestyle than the weight loss despite the name.
I did not participate in the last two rounds of BLC because I knew that my early 2012 focus was elsewhere and because I wanted to get a chance to get my maintenance "sea legs" and cut back on my Spark involvement to see how I could integrate all my new habits into "the real world." Despite this, I kept in touch with most of my old BLC teammates via Facebook or Spark and accepted their suggestion to rejoin them for BLC20. Although there is a maintenance team option in the BLC challenge, those in maintenance can also be placed in "regular" BLC teams as Masters of Maintenance (MoM) members, with no weight loss component. So I rejoined my old team.
Like all the other BLC20 members who have been blogging this week about their 12 week goals, I needed to wrap my head around my own reasons for rejoining this challenge. The truth of the matter is that I initially did this strictly out of friendship with my former teammates, several of whom are joining me in the Long Island Diva HM in a few weeks. But as the challenge began last week, I decided that I did have my own goal and ulterior motive for participating in BLC20.
Before I joined Sparkpeople, I recognized that I never placed the focus on me. As a mom, it was easy to use this devotion to family/friends/causes as an excuse to ignore my poor health habits and lifestyle. I spent a lot of time trying to "fix" lots of other people or control situations that weren't mine to manage, while pointedly ignoring the one person over whom I had complete control: that person in the mirror. Once I started to work on changing that mindset, I was ready to Spark, and success came easily to me because I kept that focus on me.
In 2012, I've moved away from a total focus on my own needs - something that was vital in 2011 but not realistically sustainable "forever" - and spent a lot of time involved with others' needs. Unlike the past, I did not do so by completely ignoring my own needs. But 2012 has been involved with wedding planning for my oldest son's wedding (next Saturday!!!), a 75 mile mountain backpacking trip to New Mexico with a Boy Scout crew (plus planning the overall trip for them and another 200 people who went with us), and participating in a 45 mile mountain backpacking trip to Montana with my husband and another couple. These were all good, healthy things, but I've definitely missed out on some of the "me time" that I enjoyed last year.
Much of my former "me time" occurred during my fitness time - particularly my many walks each week. Many of my best Spark blogs were written after a solitary walk and think time. In 2012, I migrated to a lot more group fitness, doing a lot more strenuous hikes many days a week with hiking Meetup groups, averaging 5-10 miles up and down hills at a quick pace. It was fun participating with these groups, but I was always chatting or concentrating on the group instead of letting my mind wander. I also spent many weekends doing "shakedown" backpacking trips with others, to further develop my fitness level for my trips. Overall, I found that unlike 2011, where I did something every single day, in 2012 I have been exercising more strenuously, but not always on consecutive days.
Therefore, now that my summer trips are over and the wedding is almost here, my BLC20 goal is to ramp up my "me time" for the remainder of the year. I am also going to add in some more personal walks on top of my group hikes, so I have that time to let my mind wander with my feet. I'm going back to doing "something" every day and having specific FM goals. The BLC challenge supports this because there are weekly fitness components and challenges that require me to be more regulated in my daily fitness.
In closing, I'm contributing a "before" BLC20 picture - the one on the right - which I quickly took in a bathroom mirror last night while attending an opera event at our symphony center. I look very happy in the picture, because I am! For fun, I have paired it with a "before" Spark picture. In fact the picture on the left is waaaaaay before Spark - ten years ago. I was a mere forty-something! I thought it was a fitting choice for this blog because it was taken on a vacation with my parents in a year where I gave everyone in the family a private vacation to the place of THEIR choice. My husband and I went to the Bahamas so he could snorkle; one son went snowmobiling in New Hampshire (that was definitely a sacrifice on my part!); another son wanted a trip to NYC to see some Broadway shows; and my parents went with me to the Grand Canyon, which they'd never seen. How typical that everyone else's needs and choices were the focus of the attention - and as you can see, I was paying little attention to my health and fitness.
So, since I'm in maintenance and have no WL goals, you might not "see" a big difference when I share a post-challenge picture in twelve weeks. But as successful Sparkers know, sometimes the biggest changes are on the inside.