100. One Hundred. Such a nice round, wonderfully hefty number, isn't it?
What a journey so far. A roller coaster by any other name is still a roller coaster, folks. I cannot believe I'm finally here. When I started December 17, 2011, my hard and fast goal was to lose 100 pounds by the end of December 2012. Round about August I became sidetracked. It might have had a little to do with a giant double layer chocolate chip cookie cake that was brought in for a co-worker's birthday. It might have had to do with my trip to England, and the subsequent isolation I put myself into. It might have had to do with ineffective coping skills around the holidays. Or it might have been that I needed a break (or balancing period) after losing those first 60-70 pounds so quickly. Perhaps it was the stress of a looming deadline I "knew" I couldn't meet.
Either way, December 31 came and went with my head bowed in shame and my tail between my legs. The first of the year saw a huge recommitment to my weight loss goals. Except this time, I didn't put a time limit on it. The weight isn't coming off as fast now and that's okay. It IS STILL coming off. When I stay focused.
Focused on what you ask?
1. Tracking Nutrition. Tracking your food is, in my opinion, the most important tool of SparkPeople. Those who have successfully lost weight, and keep it off, track. Tracking is very burdensome at first. You have to hunt and peck for every morsel, every time. Eventually, you will a) find an easier way to find the food you want to track and b) accumulate a bunch of "favorites" which makes it so much easier with home cooked recipes or your favorite products. Ideally, I track every meal and it is very easy. SparkPeople will give you a calorie range based on your anticipated exercise and calories burned. The goal is to stay within that range. It's not perfect. Sometimes I have to eat more, sometimes less, but it is such an important part of my success.
2) Tracking Fitness. Recording your fitness minutes and calories burned is the second component of SparkPeople and Spark offers a tracker for you to keep up with these numbers every day. It is also on the smartphone app. The motto is 10 minutes a day. I know several people who successfully lose weight who do very little fitness, but the large majority of people exercise to boost their weight loss and health benefits. Personally, I have found that exercise allows me many more calories a day and I like having food options!! I also like the lean, strong body I have under my skin and remaining subcutaneous fat. (Confession: I enjoy groping myself and finding new muscles or muscle definition!)
3) The smartphone app is a lifesaver for tracking nutrition and fitness. Again, it takes a bit to get used to it, but the benefits far outweigh the learning curve.
4) Heart Rate Monitor. There are several ways of estimating your calories burned. You should find the one that works best for you. Spark has a calorie estimator in the tracker. I think the numbers are extremely inflated. I originally bought a cheap Sportline Heart Rate Monitor watch at Walmart for the purpose of measuring my calories burned when I exercised. These numbers were more accurate than SparkPeople's estimates on their Fitness Tracker. However, the watch was a pain to use and I didn't care for the format. Since then, I upgraded to a Polar HRM at the beginning of this year. The calorie burned numbers are much lower for the same amount of exercise, which frustrated me at first, but I have adjusted and feel like ithas been a huge tool to taking my weight loss to the next level.
5) Water, water, water! In December 2011, I stopped drinking sodas and iced tea and only drink water now. Since that time I have had a handful of sodas. In addition to the automatic decrease in empty calories, it has helped my physically in many other ways too. (Not going to detail those here, because they are kind of gross). Almost every day, I drink 8+ cups of water. It is my drink of choice.
6) SparkFriends! I can't believe I waited two months before opening up enough to interact with other Sparkers. I was so shy, and introverted and downtrodden and paranoid and lacking confidence, I couldn't bear the thought of "putting myself out there." Once I started though, there was no stopping me. I have shared with you guys a lot of personal information over the past year and a half. Yes, I'm still very shy socially. (Some of my close SparkFriends may beg to differ, but you guys are "in the loop.") However, some of those walls are beginning to come down. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone a bit. The constant support and love and genuine concern you all show on a daily or weekly basis is the absolute key to my success. It's not like the tools of tracking. It's less concrete--like a web or net constantly underneath my high wire. I still fall, but you guys make sure I survive to climb back up on the wire again. When I do the worst is when I unplug from my SparkFriends. Even if I'm not posting, reading what you guys are doing, your struggles and triumphs, keeps my mind primed, keeps the hope alive.
About a month and a half ago, I bought a reward dress. It was in anticipation of reaching 100 pounds lost and, soon after, reaching Onederland. (I have 5 pounds to go!!!). It's not the kind of dress I buy. The dress is useless for work, but it makes me feel so good! My goal in the next couple of weeks is to find a group of friends to take me out to celebrate--and give me an opportunity to wear the dress!
I need to celebrate this milestone. I let my One Year Sparkversary pass without even a nod. I can't do that this time. It has been a really rough month--lonely without family.
Okay, enough blah, blah, blah. Here's what you really came to see. I don't have a really good full body. I'm sorry they are blurry and that I have a "phone in the face" shot that is annoying as heck. (I wish I had a pic of me in the dress, but sadly, I don't. Maybe I'll post one of me in the dress in the next couple of days).
Love to you all!