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How to Do It?!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

How to Do It?

Follow-Up On: Skill Set for Improvement; Readers Comments

Mea Cluelessa
I'm always clueless about which of my blog posts will be “popular”. I put "popular" in quotes because I don't believe I've ever gotten more than 17 responses to any single post. I'm not only clueless about the popularity, I'm also clueless about the quality of the responses. Yesterday's blog (“Skill Set for Improvement”) got the most meaningful, and thoughtful responses, ever.

Annotated Comments
I'm re-posting them, here, excerpted (and slightly edited), with, a few annotations. They deserve their own showcase.

FIFIFRIZZLE 4/2/2014 1:41PM
You are so right. I found my way to drop 100 lbs after I released my limiting beliefs, including the faith that if I followed the traditional way of eating to lose weight, I would lose weight.


And one great question that helped me immensely was, 'Yeah, how is that working for me?'


I found my own way to a method of weight loss that suited me.

Boppy: Yes, you must find your own way. And the meta-process for that is:

But I looked very hard at other Sparkers who were succeeding at getting rid of that weight and one thing I noticed was the prodigious amount of exercise points they were racking up. They had as many exercise points as Spark Points. So I racked up my exercise, too. When I started on Sparkpeople I could not figure out how people got to more than 1000 exercise minutes a month, but I know, now!

I don't like to plan my menus but I've found a way to nearly do that, I prepare my food so I can throw together some kinda salad, stir fry, soup in five minutes flat - because I have learned to compromise and make trade offs (some vitamin loss from precut foods for the convenience of extra freggies in my diet).

Boppy: That's planning. You've found a short-cut. All, the better.

It really is true that weight-loss happens in your head. And, if you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.

Boppy: That is, no change!

GARDENCHRIS 4/2/2014 9:07AM
... some of us take longer, for many reasons, it is very helpful to read these type of blogs for the constant reinforcement that they provide.

Boppy: To my taste, the comments are much more valuable than the original post. Many must develop various parts of the skill-set along the way. I did. As you can see in all the other comments, each of us had various weaknesses that needed addressing. But, before you, I, they (other commenters) did any of that, we had to “identify” with other successful people. Too many cannot seem to find an “other”, close enough to themselves, to make that leap.

TINAJANE76 4/2/2014 7:38AM
I think you've hit upon some important truths here -- and ones that can be difficult to confront. It can be heartbreaking to see someone who so badly wants to change, but can't/isn't willing to do what it takes to make those changes happen.

Boppy: What's worse, IMHO, is that many have defense mechanisms and belief systems that preclude them from even “seeing” what they need to change.

My approach to managing my weight has definitely changed in many of the ways you've described here and it's made all the difference.


It started with the acknowledgment that what I had done in the past hadn't worked and the development of a new plan, and continued with my willingness to both stick with it permanently and to make changes when something clearly wasn't working.


It's hard work! Sometimes, I feel like it's onerous and a bit unfair. However, this is what it takes for me to keep the weight off, and NOT have to exclude certain types of food, or need to exercise excessively. And, that's where the support network here comes in. Just knowing that other people have similar troubles and are working through them is a big encouragement for me to keep going.

Boppy: Yes, life is not fair. It's life. It's an opportunity. It is not cruel to say that, think that, or realize that. On the contrary, it's liberating. People who learn the right habits early on, have it easier. However, for my taste, people who acquire them along the way, are heroic!

Boppy: Yes, there are three backbone strengths at Spark People (IMHO) that make it a toolbox for the programs that we have both commented on. (All could be improved dramatically if the SP movers and shakers were to be more focused on these three; and, in turn, this would lead to a more consistent revenue stream for SP. I have over 36 years of experience in software, hardware, and Internet – product engineering, architecture, management, and marketing, that the prior statement is based on.) These strengths are: software that supports measurement, tracking, and self analysis, and crowd sourcing (of support, the nutrition database, and the wellness knowledgebase).

Boppy: What's missing, on the other hand, is software that (a) supports crowd-sources externally developed support software creation -- most notably open APIs, and (b) curation of knowledge.

4A-HEALTHY-BMI 4/2/2014 6:48AM
… It's been a progression for me, for sure. I definitely didn't start out with my current skills. When I started re-losing the weight in 2007-2009, all I knew was that I ate too much. The acid-reflux was helpful because it made me scared to eat. And, the only thing that had worked in the past was logging my food.

For years I just couldn't face the prospect of logging. It seemed too onerous; I resented the idea because no one around me seemed to need it, and I figured I couldn't do it -- long-term because I'd burn out. So, what was the point of trying?

But, eventually I did decide to try again. You can read a blow-by-blow account of my progression here:


A lot of it was "fumbling around in the dark"; and, there were lots of false starts. In the beginning, I was thrilled to just get under 300 lbs. I had no idea I'd end up where I am now. No clue!

Boppy: In my own case, I spent a few months thinking about the problem, and how my life, time, and attention had to change to “do this thing”. During this same period, I created an image of what I wanted to look like. I also did some experimenting on what worked, and what didn't.

I think the most important ingredient was my determination to throw all of my creativity, persistence, time, and will toward getting my weight off and keeping it off. It came down to a question of, "How badly do I want this?" And the answer had to be, "So badly I'll do almost ANYTHING to accomplish it," And I subscribed to the grim idea that it didn't matter at all how I FELT about exercising and tracking my food, that what mattered was that I DID it.

Boppy: YES! In my own case, because my skeletal-muscle system was in such bad shape because of past injuries, I didn't even start to exercise until I had lost 40 pounds.

Now, I've come to an understanding that logging my food doesn't have to be as onerous as I once thought, and, that, if it will keep me at a size where I'm comfortable in my own skin, then it's worth the effort.

Boppy: YES! However, I have to laugh at your phrase “I'm comfortable in my own skin”. I now have more skin, than I need to be comfortable! emoticon emoticon

And, I motivate myself, by staying active in the maintenance team, running challenges, curating the maintenance anniversary list, managing the Big Page of Links, identifying blog posts for Tina to highlight, doing whatever I can think of to try and help myself and others keep the weight off. It's the everyday accountability that keeps me going.


Boppy: You and TinaJane and your work have much greater applicability than those who are just on maintenance!


I don't know whether you've seen my index of blog posts: ...

Boppy: Yes, very useful!

And if/when you've codified your thinking to the point that you have a method or a tool or a schema for helping people, Tina and I will be more than happy to help you promote and support it, in whatever way we can!

Boppy: I think a lot of what I learn could best be implemented by me and you with changes to the SP software. Too much of what you do, and what I've avoided doing, are predicated on the severe limitations of SP. Most SP users are incapable of doing that or even using the stuff that you have created, because of those limitations.

1SALMON1 4/1/2014 11:24PM

… none of the folks (at Spark or WW or wherever) who are successful started out equally strong in all the skills you reference. Time and persistence may help us recognize an area where we are weak and focus on that - but that focus may throw us off track in a different area. I think about this a lot; what is it that trips a person over from not identifying with or recognizing the possibility of success, to thinking success is achievable? Once a person takes that step they can start building that skill set; but otherwise they (we!) flounder. I'll be interested in your thinking about this!

Boppy: You've hit the nail on the head of the one factor I never address. Mostly, because I have no ideas on how to fix that. Let me re-phrase this: Many people -- especially working moms with significant responsibilities at home – have trouble finding the time, attention and energy to focus on changing their behavior WRT food and exercise, let alone to actually do these. Still others have health issues that complicate “this”.

Some people succeed because it's easy for them to for whatever reason. ...

The most challenging were the people with limited education, limited support, limited finances, limited resources, significant medical problems and challenges.

I had some well-heeled people who just ordered Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem, joined a gym, and really did well. No cooking, no cleanup, but really expensive.

The reason many people here don't succeed is because they need individual diet counseling to help them with their own unique set of challenges.

I had people who had never eaten a real vegetable and were not eager to do so.

People, here, are basically taking a college science course with limited instruction and some of the info here is poor. One size doesn't fit all.

Some of the fortunate successful ones here stumbled upon the right plan for them. It doesn't mean it didn't take a lot of work. Some of them spent 20-40 years doing trial and error to get there.


1CRAZYDOG 4/1/2014 5:28PM
I just find the minute I stray from those basics, I falter. You have to want this so bad you can TASTE it! And nothing tastes as good as healthy feels!

Thank You
Thank you so much for your important, valuable, and thoughtful replies.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I've never really thought about what makes a popular blog post. I've seen people post naughty jokes and be popular. LOL.
    1325 days ago
    I'm not sure what makes one person's post more popular than another. I've seen people post all sorts of inspiring things and have very few comments.

    1327 days ago
    Good luck with getting SP on board with any of this - I've tried and tried to offer suggestions about tools for the past 5 years and they've consistently brushed me off with "we're busy with other projects, although that sounds interesting." I've had email exchanges with Chris Downey about it, even. This just isn't a priority for them. They're busy promoting the next book, or creating a financial version of the site, or a baby version, and now it sounds like they're busy doing this Spark America thing.

    Maintainers and modifications to their site are just not a priority.

    Someday maybe we can find the right set of folks to go off and build what we need, and then it can be platform-independent, to work with losers from MFP, SP, LoseIt, DailyBurn, LiveStrong, Reddit, etc. etc. etc.

    In the meantime we've got the largest, most organized and active group of maintainers on the free internet, as far as I can tell. And I've looked really hard for them.

    So for now this is my sandbox where I get to develop tools and interventions that someday might be able to serve a much larger community, with software to do many of the things that I now have to do by hand with Google documents.
    1327 days ago
    Wow! Quite a summary! And honored to earn a place on it!

    I think planning, assessing your plan, changing what needs to be re-tooled and evaluating again is a system that works for me. If something isn't going well, there's always a REASON for that and needs to be identified, then it can be modified.

    Keep writing your wonderful blogs, Boppy. They're popular with many people for sure!!!

    1327 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.