Today is my 3 Year SparkVersary!
I lost 90lbs with the help of SparkPeople, 80 of them in just under 9 months. During that time, I lost weight every single week with only two exceptions (the day after a party and after a vacation). This was done with laser-like focus. The benefit was that I never lost momentum and ultimately this helped me reach my goals relatively fast and personally made me feel awesome. The disadvantage was that I was less prepared for maintenance than those who have plateaued along their journey. So, if you're just getting started, I wouldn't get too worked up about how long it's going to take or whether you hit bumps along the road, because there are always advantages and disadvantages to any path you take. For me, I'm grateful for my route. Results may vary.
I've maintained my weight loss for over two years. The longer we maintain our weight loss, the more we reduce the probability of regaining the weight. I find comfort and relief in this because I tend to worry about these statistics. Maintaining longer means our odds do get better.
I've tracked my nutrition virtually every day I've been here. This helps keep me focused and has taught me a lot about food and how my body reacts to different nutrients and situations. While I struggle with the necessity of this at times, I think tracking helps me more than it hinders me, so I will continue tracking, for now.
I've logged thousands of miles biked and tens of thousands of fitness minutes since joining SparkPeople. This helps keep me focused, reminds me to exercise when life gets hectic and quantifies my efforts.
I learned a lot from other people and SparkPeople articles during the last three years. A lot of this learning was in the form of remembering. In other words, most of this information wasn't my first exposure to health, fitness, vegetables, positivity, etc. You learn this stuff and then you forget it. This is why repetition is so important.
A gift I've received from a few people, including several SP community members, is hope. Hope is probably one of the more inconspicuous tools available here on SparkPeople. But, if you are lucky enough to find it and accept it, true hope can power you to achieve just about anything. I'm not talking about desperate hope or wishful thinking. I'm talking about the realization that something isn't just a remote possibility, but a real tangible outcome that you or anyone can achieve. A funny thing about true hope is that it's silent. When you really have hope, you don't say "I hope I can do this." You say "I can do this." I guess for me, hope is the spark in SparkPeople.
A few other things that are really important:
I drink a lot of water, and I like it. Water hydrates your body and will make you feel better. If you don't like water, I suggest learning to like it.
I eat a ton of vegetables, and I like them. Actually, I love them! Vegetables fuel your body and will make you feel better. If you don't like vegetables, I suggest learning to like them.
I exercise a lot, and I like it. Some exercise I love (biking); some I like a lot (hiking); some I like a little (strength training); some I don't like much at all (like the KrankCycle). I can do a lot of different things and there are many things I can't do. But, by all measures, I can do a lot more now than when I started SparkPeople. And, because I can comfortably do a lot more exercises now, I tend to like things that I would never have liked to do when I first joined SP. Exercise strengthens your muscles, reduces stress and reduces your chances of illness and injury. If you don't like to exercise, I suggest trying every exercise until you find the ones you enjoy. Then, do those the most often.
So, to recap, those three things: water, vegetables and exercise are what I would say are probably the most important non-negotiables as far as weight-loss or general health are concerned, especially if you like to eat a lot or find yourself eating for psychological reasons. SparkPeople helped me remember them and relearn to like them. And, for that (along with hope), I'm very grateful.