Why SparkPeople Works For Me - Volume 1 - by "Sprink"
Contained herein is what I consider to be the fundamental reason that SparkPeople.com works for me. Long time readers of this blog know that EFFIEANNIE "Sparked" me just five days before my life saving Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy performed on May 30th, 2012.. Something about our conversation made her feel compelled to share her story of how SparkPeople helped her. And that she had been Sparked and inspired by IndyGirl's honest sharing of her weight loss and personal growth journey. If you haven't read either of their blogs, you should. They both put their healthy lifestyles first - which in turn enabled them to be more mentally and physically present and active drivers of their life-journeys (and not just a passenger along for the ride).
I don't expect everyone to agree that my new-found lease on life is solely due to SparkPeople - that's fine. We're all snowflakes, individual and unique in our physical and mental composition and disposition. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, point of view, whatever you want to call it. The point I want to drive home here is that, it has been my experience since joining SparkPeople that you get out of it what you are willing to put into it.
I was at my most honest, vulnerable and unselfish point when I started sharing all of my life quite publicly - for the SparkWorld and anyone else who's attention I grabbed though my writing. By sharing my own experiences, the good, the bad, and previously unmentionable began to evoke positive comments and reactions from my current SparkFriends. You can see it in my blogs this summer - the point at which I realized that the journey I was on is just as, if not more important than my ultimate destination - Heaven.
Being raised a person of faith, and thankful that my aunt and cousin were my spiritual sparkers that brought be home to my Church - I already find comfort in the simple knowledge that at the end of my days here on earth - I am going to Heaven - and it's going to be awesome.
With my destination so defined and clear, the question I ask myself every day and throughout the day is, "how shall I make the most out of each day God blesses me with on this earth?" While rhetorical - this question's answer defined me by creating a personal "Event Horizon" after which I knew my purpose in life and understood how I could use my energy, talents and experience to help others.
Those that "get it" soon realize that SparkPeople gives us a rare opportunity to get positive affirmation from a supportive network of friends (of our own choosing) around the world who are going through the same or similar healthy physical and mental lifestyle transformations. SparkPeople helped me, and I hope it helps you realize this fundamental tenet of Humanity - that each of our lives matter to more people than we realize.
We are social creatures, and thrive on being appreciated, cared about, and loved by those we surround ourselves in this life. Never underestimate the power of a smile, a hug, a friendly "hello" to a complete stranger, a "thank you" to someone holding the door open. Tell everyone in your life that is important to you how much you love them each time you see or talk to them. Show them by your actions - demonstrate your love and affection - tell old stories, look at old holiday photos, or write someone an old fashioned letter. Reacquaint yourself with a long lost school friend. Just do it.
A couple weeks ago I had a long talk with one of my Drs who after hearing from me about SparkPeople - said this to me, "we (humans) are born, we eat, we poop, and we die, it's what we do in between birth and death that defines each of us and our place in the universe." HOW we choose to look at each day that God blesses us with on this earth - WHOM we share our life journey with, how we ACT toward our family, co-workers and friends help unlock the real "ME" inside of each of us. Sharing our journeys teaches us about ourselves provides affirmation so those around us realize that they matter. Doing so can ignite a firestorm of positive changes in everyone.
We all have the power to motivate, inspire, and support each other in our journeys, our new lifestyles, our personal-rediscovery. Whether you share a little or a lot, just share. Take as much time as you want. It's your journey - make the most of it. Remember to soak in every comment made on your SparkPeople or Blog. Thank your SparkFriends for their support by personally commenting on their blog or SparkPage whenever possible. Look at postings from new SparkPeople and make a couple new SparkFriends each time you log on.
Reach out - ask questions, make positive changes in your life. It takes hard work my friends - but the nearly instant feedback you receive from your SparkFriends comments and SparkMails - they can be a most powerful motivator - and therein lies the magic of Spark. It works best when you give it away.
If you're like me - realizing the impact that one word or sixteen, three sentences or thirty paragraphs, can affect positive change in not just the readers of your blog - but also in the lives of the dozens, hundreds, thousands of people each of us helps Spark down the road.
I could be the driving force behind my journey or a passenger just along for the ride. I choose to drive - I only look back at my past occasionally in my rear view mirror - my future is counting on my being present in the moment, looking forward, loving, learning and sharing along the way. I know where I came from, how I got to this moment - typing these words, sharing my journey with you. It's what I want you to know that is of ultimate importance here, in this moment in time -
"You matter to me, and so many more people than you will ever realize."
"Your support and positivity has lifted me up when I was down, and helped me remember that there's nothing wrong with giving yourself credit for all that you have accomplished. I am forever grateful."
I had to stare mortality in the face last Spring before I was able to be the champion of my own cause. I assembled the best Medical, Nutritional and Motivational Support Systems (i.e. SparkPeople). I believed in the very core of my being that this was the right path - change now, because tomorrow's not guaranteed.
Sure I stumbled, learned some hard lessons on hydration and proper nutritional balance along the way - but I did it. If you asked me in early 2012 if I thought I would be 1/3 less the man I was and yet richer in life than ever before I would have called you a dreamer. Now at 218 lbs, it doesn't matter that my goal weight is still 20 or so pounds away. I genuinely like myself for the first time since early childhood.
Earlier today I shared my weight loss successes with my facebook friends - an amalgam of close and distant people past and present - and shared my experience of losing over 125 lbs since March 2012; how I now for the first time wear regular size pants and shirts. The response I received - nothing short of amazing. In that "Life Event" posting, I was honest, vulnerable and proud of myself for what I have achieved and how much my life has changed since my VSG May 30th, 2012. And maybe, just maybe, I Sparked a couple of 'em in the process!
Enjoy the blessings of God's gift of today! Your friend - "Sprink"
"You are the birth the birth in every sunrise..."