When I joined Sparkpeople one year ago today, it was only for the food tracker - I wasn't planning to change my diet, I just wanted to have a convenient place to keep track of what I ate because my doctor was concerned. I wasn't planning to get *any* more exercise than walking to and from work would give me, either. Although I *wanted* to lose weight, I didn't have any kind of defined goal, and I wouldn't have admitted to most people that I was anything less-than-comfortable as a 5'2", 238-pound woman. Admitting it would have been giving in, somehow.
One of the very first things that happened was that my nutrition tracker showed I wasn't eating enough. (And what I was eating was mostly crap, but I'll get to that.) I bumped that up, because I'd have been incredibly depressed to be a fat anorexic (no offence to anyone who suffers from this eating disorder intended), and that was how my average meals would look. (Think a can of Coke for breakfast, another for lunch with two slices of pizza, and a small TV dinner for supper - net calories something like 900, and nutritional value pretty much zilch). It was alarming, and I knew I needed to change something - to eat better.
I started cooking at least one proper meal a day - usually supper - and since there were the protein/carb/fat target numbers, I tried to at least get a bit closer to hitting those. I felt a bit better, but didn't pay much attention beyond that.
Around that time, I had to shift the walk I usually took to work (a straight point-to-point line) to one that was longer, because there just wasn't enough daylight. I didn't want to be walking alone in the dark, I needed well-lit streets ... I started going a bit further, twice a day.
I didn't define a goal until after Thanksgiving 2012. (I'm Canadian, so this was in early October - about a month after I joined). At Thanksgiving dinner, I got into an argument with a woman who was insisting stomach stapling was 'the only reasonable way' to lose 100 pounds within a year. That night, I went back home and defined a target: lose 100 pounds by October 2013. I didn't tell anyone except the people here, because I'd tried to 'diet' before, and failed, and I didn't want a public failure.
Now I had a goal, and the target was *just* within reach. If I worked for it. I still had to eat more than I had been (though not as much as I would have needed for maintenance of my 200+ body). I found a mileage-tracking app and began to track my daily walks.
Every change I made was gradual. I went a little further in my walks, then tried to walk a bit faster. I made drinking more water and fewer sodas a priority (which meant I needed to eat *yet more* real food). And the pounds started to come off - not at the smooth 2-lbs-a-week rate I'd hoped, but also not at the 'no matter what I do, nothing changes' rate I'd seen before.
One year on Sparkpeople has not caused me to lose 100 pounds (even if I define that as next month's target, I won't reach that goal). But I have lost 68 pounds as of last week's weigh-in. I've dropped nearly 8 sizes in my clothing. And I have a lot more energy.
My 2 km walk to work has become an 8-10K walk/jog each morning (I still take the direct route home in the morning). Even while on vacation, I found myself restless when I didn't get some exercise in, and I ended up seeking it out. I haven't had a can of soda since last January, and I don't even miss them any more, when I used to be a caffeine addict! I regularly get 5-7 servings of veggies and fruits every day. ... when I look at my habits now compared to what they were a year ago, I don't really recognize myself.
Yes, I'm not at my goal yet. I believe I can reach it, now - I just need to be patient and keep plugging. There have been frustrations - the month where I didn't lose a single pound, despite doing the same level of activity and eating, for example - and fears - the loss of self that comes with significant change. But it's never been impossible, and I've never felt like giving up.
I don't know where I'll be this time next year. But if things keep going the way they are, I'll probably be running marathons or something equally unthinkable.