Friday, January 25, 2013
(this is the blog post I was expecting to read when I saw the featured blog entitled "If Sparkpeople is so great, why am I not thin?"—you asked for it, so now you’re getting it)
“If Sparkpeople is so great, why am I not thin?”
The first thing that comes to my mind when I read that question is:
Are you actually TRYING to change?
By “trying” I mean are you actively trying to change your eating patterns? That doesn’t mean THINKING/TALKING about it, that means DOING IT. Have you honestly evaluated your current diet and chosen one or two items to address either by not eating them at all anymore or slowly weaning yourself off so you no longer eat them (or you eat them as an occassional treat, in the case of snacks and such)? No one expects you to quit all your bad habits cold turkey, but if you’re not actively working to change, you won’t change.
Since it’s easy, I’ll use myself as an example. I used to drink pop constantly throughout the day. When I started making changes (to try and lose weight and get healthier) I had to address my pop issue. There was simply no way I was going to lose weight while still consumming 750-1000 calories of sugar water per day. “But,” I whined to myself, “I’m addicted!”. Bllsh*t. I wasn’t “addicted”. That right there is a slap in the face to folks with real addictions like alcoholism or drug dependency. I just had a “bad habit”. Something I could work to make better. It started by simply reducing my intake. Did I really NEED to have 20 ounces of cola at breakfast? Good lord, NO! When I stopped having my breakfast pop then I really didn’t want that breakfast food I usually had with it (a big bagel piled with peanut butter). So just by saying “No” to one pop drinking incident, I had not only reduced my calories by 250 (for the pop) but also 400-600 calories for that bagel and peanut butter. I also saved the money of going to the bagel shop for that breakfast meal. Instead, I had a piece of peanut butter toast at home and a glass of chocolate milk. Was that the “perfect” breakfast? Probably not. But it was FAR better than where I had started.
Was that one change super simple? Not always. There were plenty of times I still wanted my breakfast food routine. But by selecting that ONE thing to change and sticking with it, I did change it. And it took a good two weeks for that change to feel less and less like a burden. Once that one change took root, I moved on to a new one.
See, ACTIVELY TRYING.
Along with actively making one small change at a time to your eating habits, are you ACTIVELY TRYING to change your exercise/activity level? Again, actively trying doesn’t mean sitting at your computer, whining on the spark blogs/forums that you want to do more exercise but it’s too hard, you don’t have time, you don’t have money, or any of the other host of excuses we’ve all come up with. Typing on your computer does not count as “exercise”. Whining doesn’t burn calories.
Are you being HONEST about your activity level or are you trying to find the loopholes and cheats so you can then point to your lack of progress and say “see, I’m trying but it’s not working for me”. Here’s a tip. Movement that you would do no matter what (that includes normal walking around during the day, like shopping or wandering around your house doing basic chores) does NOT count as “activity”. If those types of everyday activities were really burning any calories, you wouldn’t be on a website trying to figure out how to lose the weight you gained.
Once again, I’m your trusty example. Back when I started, I increased my activity by merely walking. Instead of riding the bus all the way to the stop near my house, I got off halfway to my destination and walked the rest of the way. I didn’t worry yet about how fast I was walking or any of that. I was merely focused on changing my habit. The walk was only about 30 minutes (mostly downhill) and many days that was ALL the exericise I did. But in making that one change I was setting myself up to continue to make changes. After a few weeks, I added more exercise. I’d come home from my small walk home and (since I was already in “exercise mode”) I’d put in an exercise video and do it. It was only a 30 minute dvd and in the beginning I could barely do a lot of the moves. But I did the best I could, even if that meant modifying the moves, sometimes quite a bit (like not using a weight, even though you were only supposed to use puny little 5lb weights) or only getting one or two moves done while the chicks on the dvd were pounding out 10.
Once again, ACTIVELY TRYING.
I bet you’ve now noticed the key word here, huh? ACTIVE. Change isn’t going to happen just because you wish for it. Change isn’t going to happen just because you read an inspirational story on a website. Change isn’t going to happen until you choose to change and then ACTIVELY TRY to do so.
So where does spark fit into this? It’s a tool like any other. It’s a good resource for information but mostly it’s a place you can go to help you keep your focus. Seek out groups/members who are like you. ACTIVELY TRYING. But be careful not to get sucked into the “fatty facebook” side of spark. The internet is a tricky place. Time can cease to exist when you’re browsing websites, playing silly games, or chatting about nothing to random folks. Use spark in moderation. Pick a certain time of day to check in at spark and set a time limit. Go only to those parts of the site that are really useful to you. Avoid time sucks like all those ways to earn “spark points”. They’re only there to encourage you to waste time because the longer you’re on the site, the more money they make off you. Focus on those aspects of the site that really encourage you, that make you want to continue to ACTIVELY CHANGE while avoiding the time sucks. And then turn off the computer and get to work making your changes instead of just sitting there wasting time wishing and whining.
Through all of this, never forget to be HONEST with yourself. When you get stuck in a rut or begin to flounder (or even fail a bit), take a step back and honestly evaluate yourself. Act as if this is the first day all over again. Evaluate your current habits and pick a few to focus on. There is no shame in stumbling or even falling. It’s not about being perfect.
This is a big project you’ve decided to undertake.
Big projects take planning.
Big projects take TIME.
Big projects have set backs.
Big projects take EFFORT.
Big projects are WORTH IT.
You are worth it.
Now stop goofing off on the internet and get to work making your changes!