Saturday, September 07, 2013
CHAPTER THREE: Why Spark People Worked for Me
Surprisingly I was pretty excited to join Spark and I spent a lot of time exploring the website. I set up my home page and posted some pictures. (Of course the first pictures were head shots only!) I read articles and was encouraged. I started tracking my food and my exercise. Actually, the exercise tracker was motivating to me because I wanted those points. Then I wrote my first blog and was encouraged and horrified when other sparkers responded. Horrified because I could no longer hide in anonymity, scared to death someone would actually want to talk to me and not sure at all if I wanted to do this. I was also nervous about being accountable. After all, that child inside did not want anyone to really know all the dark secrets of binge eating.
But…I continued. I read other people’s blogs and gave encouragement where I could and found doing this helped me also. I updated my status regularly which was posted to Facebook and in return I received encouragement from family and friends. I found updating my status with what my plan for exercise was for the day helped in keeping me accountable to do what I said I was going to do.
And yes, my weight started dropping as I ate more healthfully and particularly since I was exercising regularly. Those early days at the gym were eye-opening as I became fully aware of what bad shape I was in. In those beginning days I varied cardio between the elliptical, the stationary bike and the treadmill. I also did weight training with free weights using exercises I had seen in magazines. I remember my first work-outs on the elliptical were on level one and I could barely finish ten minutes. At about 8 minutes I was going so slow the machine would keep pausing and shutting down. But I read similar stories on Spark People and how persistence and consistency paid off in the long run and people gained strength and endurance. I’m not sure why I persisted, but I did and Spark People was there to cheer me on.
As I logged in daily, I began to notice a change in my attitude. After years of dieting and yo-yo weight loss and regain, I was starting to notice small, subtle changes occurring. One of the biggest changes was fully embracing weight loss/weight maintenance as a life long journey. Of course I had known this intellectually for a long time, but it wasn’t until I had a real gut sense for this that it became easier when I was less than perfect. So many things learned along the way…like that whole problem with perfection and learning it is okay to make mistakes and it is okay to forgive yourself and have a better day tomorrow.
I bought the ‘The Spark’ and found inspiration and hope. I was particularly interested in the goal setting sections. Setting goals and having dreams was intriguing as well as sad because I couldn’t recall having dreams or goals as a child, a young woman or as an older adult. For me life seemed to just happen and although I don’t have many regrets about how my life experiences have gone, it is sad I never dreamed about possibilities or reaching, stretching beyond what was comfortable.
In 1963, the year I graduated from high school, girls either got married, went to school locally to become teachers or nurses. Although I had a boyfriend there was something inside me that said he wasn’t marriage material and I was right. Twenty years later, I learned he was incarcerated in federal prison for white collar crime.
With the marriage option out, it was go to school to be either a teacher or a nurse. It was a very big deal when I left my little wide spot in the road called Mossyrock, WA and traveled to Chicago to go to nursing school. However, no one ever told me or suggested I be a doctor or a college professor or an engineer, or an architect or a dancer, or anything other than teaching or nursing. I’m very grateful for my nursing career and all of the opportunities it has provided, but what would my life have been if I dreamed of being a trauma surgeon, or a cardiologist or anything other than the expected?
I discussed this with my therapist and she said it was never too late to dream and asked what I would like to do and what goals I wanted to set. Those were very scary questions for me. Setting a goal meant being vulnerable in telling people what I wanted to do. It also meant the possibility of failure and OMG failure is not an option for me. After all, other than weight loss, I had been successful at most everything I had ever attempted. More about fear of failure later, but for now I was on the spot to pull something from very deep inside me about dreams.
And after some agonizing moments of really thinking about what was important to me, I blurted out in a frenzy of words what I wanted to do.
This blog will continue: Chapter Four: I Have A Dream