150,000-199,999 SparkPoints 157,887

Four Year Sparkiversary Musings

Sunday, January 06, 2013

As I was checking something on my Sparkpage I realized I have now been a Sparkpeople member for 4 years. How did that happen and where did the time go? I started reflecting on what brought me here, the ups and downs over the past four years and what I think is different about me now. Some of this I posted in my first blog so I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself a bit. This turned out to be pretty long so if you don’t want to read all this drivel you can skip to the end for the take home message.

How did I get started here? Looking at a start date of January 6 it looks like I was a resolutionist (a term I saw in someone’s blog recently and I really wanted to try out myself ). But I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions and that’s not how I started. It was actually a post on a Michigan State sports related message board. Someone mentioned that they started a team on Sparkpeople for members of our message board and encouraged others to join. I had been slowly making progress on my fitness/weight loss journey but had not done anything systematic about my eating other than skipping meals and other dumb things like that. I decided to check it out. I was impressed with the ease of use - particularly the food tracker – and went ahead and joined. (Side note - Green Genes is the name I use on the message board so it carried over to Sparkpeople). Reading some of the resources taught me several important lessons such as: skipping meals is a really dumb way to get healthy and lose weight. You’ve got to eat to lose weight – kinda like you’ve got to spend money to make money. The team was fairly active for a while with a few active regulars and I eventually reached my initial goal by summer. Unfortunately, most of the team members slowly stopped posting, I lost interest and slipped away from Sparkpeople. Work related activities took over my priority list and fitness went by the waysisde. As you can imagine, I gained most of the weight back and by the end of the year I was up to over 200 pounds again.

In February 2010 I found out that our campus had a walking program which reinspired me to get back on my journey. In May I was heading back to Germany for a symposium so I thought I would see how close to my goal I could get by May. I remembered the success I had with tracking my food on Sparkpeople so I started tracking my food and fitness activities again. Surprise! I got pretty close to my goal in time for my trip. Inspired by my walking program, I decided to stay in a quaint hotel in a little village outside the town where my symposium was being held and walked to town every day. I was having a blast. By the end of the summer I was back at my goal weight and feeling great. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of thinking I had all the answers, I stopped tracking my nutrition, let work get in the way of my fitness plans and even stopped tracking my steps. By the spring of 2011 I slipped back over 210 pounds (who says yo-yos lose momentum?).

I eventually got my act together in the summer of 2011. I started tracking my steps again, revisited Sparkpeople and started tracking nutrition. This time I also started paying closer attention. What lessons had I missed that caused me to keep slipping back into old habits? What worked when I was having success? What caused me to slip away and what can I do to prevent it from happening again? The success part was simple – tracking. I’m not anal about tracking every morsel of food that I take in and I don’t worry if the exact food I eat is not available on the tracker. For me, close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and nutrition tracking. The key point is simply tracking food and fitness activity. If I miss a day now and then, I don’t worry about it. I just get back at it and don’t make skipping a day become a habit. Surprise! It worked! I got back to my goal weight for the third time. Now comes the hard part. How do I keep it going? That’s where Sparkteams come into play. A Sparkteam got me started but my initial team disappeared. I looked for a Sparkteam for things I’m interested in and made sure they were active enough to hold my interest. I was disappointed that the remaining Michigan State teams were not particularly active so that wasn’t going to work. I had started looking into riding my bike to work and discovered the Slow Rider team. There are a couple of regulars who had interesting things to say and seemed to keep things going (especially the lead cyclepath Don!). I’m a golfer so I joined Golfers for Health. I started reading some blogs and checking out the Sparkpages of the people I liked on those teams. Some of them belong to a lot of teams and some of those teams looked interesting. I noticed a few of the guys around my age belonged to a team called 50+ Males which seemed perfect for me and which is now my main motivation. That led me to discover the Transition to Maintenance team which helped me realize that fitness/weight loss is a lifelong journey and not just a goal. I joined another cycling team, a German language team and now that I have a new FitBit, the FitBit team. All these teams are now an important part of a journey that I hope will last a long time. I have now been consistently tracking food and fitness for over one and a half years. I’m still oscillating a little but the peaks and valleys are getting smaller and smaller as I head into maintenance.

So here is what I’ve learned in four years.

Keep tracking. Even if you miss a day or two, just get right back at it. This is a long journey and one or two days is nothing in the bigger picture.
Make fitness a priority. It doesn't have to be THE priority, just keep it on your list.
Small steps can have a huge impact. Remember, it's a journey.
Use Sparkpeople community resources and make friends. Sparkpeople is full of awesome people and it's easy to make friends - even if they don't know it yet.
Have fun! Because if it's not fun, why do it?
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Happy anniversary! emoticon
    Keep up the great work.
    1899 days ago
    Hey, Dave, I think I telepathically hacked your brain before you wrote the take-home message. That's exactly what I'd say about SparkPeople and 50+ Males : )
    emoticon emoticon
    1899 days ago
    You're gettin' good at this blogging thing! Loved the pics--that made it fun! A very good blog with good tips! Way to go!
    1900 days ago
    Thanks for sharing what you like about SP.
    For me these are basically the same things I like about SP.
    I exercised as much or more than I did once I joined SP, but I now track my food intake and have learned much more about what I should be eating and doing to stay healthy.

    1900 days ago
    Nice blog. Thanks for sharing.
    1900 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

More Blogs by GREENGENES