Sunday, June 09, 2013
For the past 16 years I have been retired and enjoying most of the things I had planned to do when I reached the end of a career that spanned 30 years. Throughout my working years as a teacher, librarian and district administrator, I was always active and always on the move. I seldom had to worry about my weight.
Now I live a fairly sedentary life in a small rural community in Tennessee, and regrettably, my carefully constructed retirement plan resulted in my gaining a whopping 40 excess pounds. And how did this happen? Well, whether it is eating huge meals at home with my husband, enjoying food and fellowship at church pot lucks, eating 6 buffets a day on a riverboat cruise or chowing down on barbecue at a family reunion, most of my current activities involve food, and lots of it.
Being blessed with much happiness, a loving family and dear friends, I was not overly concerned about the weight gain, that is, until a routine medical checkup revealed some alarming changes in my health. My blood pressure was elevated; my blood glucose level was in the pre-diabetic range, and my triglycerides (fats in the bloodstream) were through the roof. When the significance of these findings finally sunk in, I vowed that I would get out of the unhealthy rut I was in and I would do it as quickly as possible.
Determined as I was, after trying a score of short-term fad diets over several years and finding them all to leave me in the same awkward situation of having to deny myself the delicious foods that others were enjoying, my willpower would always crumble. Further, I realized that instead of losing weight, each of these fad diets was resulting in my actually gaining a pound or two. I was simply not willing to give up a food-centered lifestyle that was immensely enjoyable to me. In late April, 2012, I learned about Fitbit in, of all places, a blog on Amazon.Com. I enrolled in the program and found it to be an effective though time consuming way to follow a sensible eating plan and add some activities to my sedentary lifestyle. I bought a wireless Fitbit Tracker and a wireless Aria Scale. For nine long months, I painstakingly entered my daily food intake in the Fitbit program; I anxiously monitored my daily activity level and weighed every day. While it was painfully difficult, the program worked.
By February, 2013, I had lost 34 pounds and was within 6 pounds of my goal weight. But February was bleak and cold in Tennessee. Having spent my entire life to that point in balmy Florida, I could not get used to the cold weather in Tennessee. I ventured outside my home only when it was absolutely necessary. As for exercise, while it was warm inside, my legs cramped when I tried to use the treadmill, and my knees hurt when I attempted to climb the stairs. I went from 10,000 steps and 10 flights of stairs per day to around 1500 steps and 0 stairs per day, and the friendly little Fitbit Tracker(with its short motivational messages) never let me forget it. I was discouraged and near the point of giving up. To make matters worse, I ceased to record my food consumption. It was just too difficult to input the information on the Fitbit page.
I do not remember exactly when I noticed that I was gaining weight because I avoided the scale like the proverbial plague, but it happened. The new clothes I had purchased for “the new me” were getting a bit snug. Go figure.
But I had not completely given up, and Fitbit had helped me once so I made a final effort to "get back with the program", and that is when I discovered the Fitbit App Gallery where other programs link to Fitbit. That, my friend, is where I found Spark People.
Now I will be the first to tell you that I am not savvy when it comes to technology and I cannot explain how it works, but as my trusty little Fitbit Tracker records my daily steps, they instantly appear in the tracker part of my Spark People page, and when I step on the wireless Aria Scale, the results, good or bad, are immediately there in the tracker part of my Spark People page. Now, that gets my attention. I think, maybe, I have finally equipped myself with the tools I need to succeed in losing those last 6 (6 ½ to be exact) pounds and keeping them off.
Springtime is beautiful in Tennessee and I have no excuses for staying inside. And you know what? Regardless of how good the Spark People program might be, sitting here in the recliner while my fingers move around the Spark People pages will not solve my weight problem. I still need something that motivates me to get up, climb the stairs, walk outside, use the treadmill or whatever else I can do to burn those excess calories that I have consumed and converted to fat. Regrettably, motivation is the weakest link in my plan for reaching and maintaining my weight loss goal. Can I make it to the end? Can I reach my goal? We'll have to see about that in my next blog entry.