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Thoughts on my Fourth Spark Anniversary

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Today is the fourth anniversary of the day I joined Spark People. Four years ago today, I began a journey that has changed my life.

January 27, 2010 was not a special day. It was an ordinary day of work and family life. My feelings about my myself and my appearance were also the same as they had been for 30 years. I felt fat, unattractive--and unhappy with myself because I couldn't seem to change those things.

After working, getting everyone fed, and dealing with chores, I sat down at the computer. I decided to check out a website I'd read about in a Good Housekeeping magazine. I always read every article I saw about weight loss, and this one had been no exception. So, on a whim, I decided to join this thing called SparkPeople.

With a degree in Human Development and 30 years of learning all I could about weight loss, I didn't really think there was anything much I could gain from a free website. But I was sick to death of having good intentions and then giving up on them within a week or so. I was tired of being tired. I hated the aches in my back and knees that made me feel much older than my 42 years. I was sick of choosing clothes based only on the criteria of whether they made me look fatter. I hated feeling so self-conscious about my appearance that I even perched on the edges of chairs so my thighs wouldn't spread out as much. And I detested how I felt after stuffing myself with food, not only at mealtimes, but in secret binges if ever I had a moment alone.

Did I have a glorious epiphany of understanding the minute I signed up? No.

Did I instantly begin losing weight at an orderly pace of 2 pounds per week? No.

Did I suddenly find it easy to control my binges and resist temptation? No.

But what I gained from SparkPeople was just what I needed: support, accountability, and hope. I already knew about healthy eating, appropriate portions, exercise, and nutrition. The facts were in my head, but that wasn't enough. What I needed was the everyday, meal-by-meal, calorie-by-calorie accountability of tracking. What I needed was the support of others who were going through the same thing, who felt the same feelings, and who always supported, encouraged and offered constructive advice. What I needed was the belief--that I'd never had before--that it WAS possible for me to lose weight, to enjoy healthy foods, to run a 10K.

During these four years, I've reached my goal weight, I've maintained at a healthy BMI for more than three years, I've run more than 2,500 miles, I've learned how to cook and eat in a whole new way, and I've been freed of almost all of my arthritis pain. And even more importantly, I've learned a lot about myself and about WHY I used food as a substitute for the things I really needed, such as time to myself, nurturing, and affection.

Am I "finshed?" No way! Do I still slip up? All the time! That's why I don't see myself ever leaving the Spark community. After four years, my need for support, accountability, and hope are still there. And SparkPeople is still there for me.
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