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When Ann joined SparkPeople over two years ago, she was just looking for a user-friendly food tracker. She never imagined that everything else she found here would become such an important part of her weight loss journey.
Ann considers herself to be a very private person and was skeptical that posting on the Message Boards or getting involved in the other Community features would help her reach her goals. "But SparkPeople persisted, urging me to use the Message Boards. I began by lurking, and then made a couple of timid posts. The more I lurked and posted, the clearer the potential of the Message Boards became for me," she says. Ann started a thread to find others who were interested in a no-nonsense, no-excuse, no-whining approach to weight loss who could share strategies and offer encouragement. She met eight other people who were also interested in this approach. They formed a SparkTeam and together they’ve lost over 626 pounds.
In their private SparkTeam, this small group from all over the world felt free to talk about all the things that worked for them, annoyed them, or got in their way. They wanted privacy to exchange ideas, examine behaviors, complain, or vent without worry about hurting other people’s feelings.
Their group is as interesting as they are diverse:
Ann (MERLINANDME) is a retired, 65-year-old school administrator who has lost more than 100 pounds.
GRANT_ME_WINGS is a 20-something MD/PhD candidate in Boston who has lost 103 pounds.
VEGGIEHEATHER, a 30-something woman, works in finance in Canada and has lost 111 pounds by watching what she eats and walking.
FERRET-EYES is an office manager and grandmother from Colorado who has lost 64 pounds tracking her nutrition and working out in her home gym;
MIRBAH, an artist from Texas, has lost 62 pounds by heading out for walks with her camera in hand.
TSEGOUIN is an au pair from Canada who has lost 35 pounds.
BUDDHARUNNER is a medical tech from San Francisco who has lost 48 pounds.
ANAUTHOR is a novelist from San Diego (she has a book coming out in December) who keeps her numbers to herself but walks and tracks like the rest of the group.
TONKASMOM is a young technology specialist from Boston who works out with a personal trainer and hikes with her dogs, which has helped her lose 60 pounds.
The group uses their Team to share tips about weight loss and exercise. Many of them post their nutrition and exercise trackers so others can look at them and offer advice about what they are doing wrong or get clues about what they are doing right. The two in the group who work with exercise professionals share everything they learn from their trainers—when to eat, what to eat, when to speed up exercise, when to back off exercise. They complain about things that get in their way and then tell each other how to circumnavigate the obstacles. They share recipes and, maybe most importantly, they talk about how far they've come. "We recognize we are on a lifelong journey. We feel genuine joy for one another’s accomplishments because we all feel like we are a part of them. We urge each other on when the going gets tough, and we wave the checkered flag at every lap we finish in victory," says Ann.
They also have "fun" threads in their Team forum about books, movies, quotations that help them get through the day, recipes that really work, and cute things the kids in their lives say and do. They share websites for the places they hang out in their various hometowns so everyone else can learn more about them. They also have a list of the music they listen to when they work out and another for websites that they have found useful. The small, private group also created their own contact list so they can get in touch with each other by phone, postal mail or email if they are away from their home computers or SparkPeople.
When we asked what makes their group so special, the responses we heard were diverse and heartfelt. Here are a few of their answers:
"Meeting Ann while I was in New York City was fantastic! She was my tour guide for the night; we saw the sights and went out for a healthy dinner. I am hoping to get the chance to meet FERRET-EYES face to face even if just for a few minutes in a couple weeks (during a short layover I have at Denver International Airport). To get a real hug from someone who has been there for you through thick and thin (literally!) is a gift. Eventually, I hope to personally meet every member of our group to express my gratitude for having them in my life. "- VEGGIEHEATHER
"I am very lucky to a part of this group. These ladies are the most encouraging, approachable, FUN, and spiritual (although they might not describe themselves that way) people I have ever met. I couldn't hope for a more accomplished and loving circle of friends. No matter what is going on with me—and I am not always good at keeping in touch with the group—they are always there. They are, in many ways that they may never know, my rocks. I will love them always."- BUDDHARUNNER
"Along with our renewed stamina and energy, we have discovered a true need for balance—balance in our physical, emotional and spiritual selves, a quest for wholeness. And all seriousness aside, my friends are funny. They make me laugh, everyday. "- FERRET-EYES
"We are diverse in age, work, family, location, and approaches to weight loss. We have a wide range of philosophies about life, religion and politics. But we are all on the same page about developing a healthy lifestyle that will help us to be the best we can be for all of our lives. It is odd to say this, but we have become best friends through sharing the one thing that gives us the greatest benefit we could hope for: the possibility of good health," says Ann.
These members used the Message Boards and SparkTeams to help reach their goals, make friends, and lose over 626 pounds together. And the best part is that anyone can also find this kind of support in the SparkPeople Community. So what are you waiting for? Join a SparkTeam or post on the Message Boards today!
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.
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