Birdie Shares a Giant Thank You and Motivational Message

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Last week was Birdie Varnedore's time to shine. First, the 35-year-old SparkPeople member was featured in People magazine--in her bikini. Then, she went on Good Morning America to talk about her 140-pound weight loss--and she even mentioned SparkPeople.

Her whirlwind trip to New York behind her, Birdie has returned to her normal life in Orlando, as a neurologist and mother of five. As a way to say thank you for all your support and to answer your questions, Birdie wrote a guest blog post for the dailySpark. (She told us that she would love to answer each SparkPage comment, SparkMail and dailySpark blog comment personally, being a doctor and a busy mother of five doesn't leave much free time--especially when you're keeping up with regular strength and cardio workouts.

Before you read Birdie's heartfelt thank you and her brief interview with the dailySpark, check out this new video of her. ABC did a follow-up interview with Birdie and two other women who also lost 100-plus pounds and were featured in People, so be sure to click here and watch that!
By Birdie:

I wanted to thank everyone for all of the kind and positive comments. I am now certain that I made a good decision to come forward with my weight loss success. Unfortunately, I am back in the middle of my busy life right now. I'm working full time, trying to work out, and attempting to spend quality time with my husband and all of my children. I am going to read through each and every one of my comments and emails, but it will likely take me some time. The kids are all asleep now. I've worked a full day and I got in 40 minutes of cardio. I'm still tired from going to New York, but it was a successful day. Once again, thank you. Thank you! Thank you!

I did want to touch on the topic of motivation. SparkPeople really does have all of the tools you need to lose and maintain weight loss. What I mean by tools is that you can find out how many calories you need to eat per day and how to balance your nutrition. SparkPeople does have great emotional support as well, but sometimes that's not enough. I believe that I had an advantage in that I had/have a great support system. I have delegated many, many things in my life. For example, I do not do my own laundry. I do very little housecleaning as well. Obviously due to my work schedule, I have to arrange for childcare for my children. The list goes on. What does this have to do with motivation? Well... stress needs to be minimized in order to get to a place where you can even think about a selfish goal such as weight loss. Selfish? Well, it is in a way. But, it's a good selfish because it pays back to everyone that you took from. So, for example, the time that I spent working out and being selfish means that I can now outlast my kids when spending a day at an amusement park.

I've got to share a story. A few years ago, my husband and I took our kids to Sea World here in Orlando. We probably made it about two hours before we got in the car and headed home. Our oldest kids were devastated. They didn't understand why we were leaving so soon. We left because I was hot, sweaty, out of breath, and my thighs were rubbing together so hard that it hurt. I couldn't do it anymore. Sad but true. I'm sure others can relate. I was the mom that ruined all of the fun because I got too tired.

Back to motivation. The point is that you need support before you can even think about motivation. So, ask for help. Delegate responsibility. Ask your husband if he will watch the kids while you work out. Hire a high school kid to help you clean the house or do the laundry. Get creative. Finding the time doesn't have to involve money. Ask friends for advice. Perhaps they can see some opportunities to simplify your life that can't see. Sometimes someone looking from the outside in can get a clearer view of the picture. You have to clear the path. Make some room for your lifestyle change.

I do want to be a source of motivation. But, I am still learning how to maintain my weight. I still read almost all of my SparkMail. If not that day, I will read it at another time. I still read the entries in the dailySpark. I still read every SparkPeople Success Story that I can find. I will never stop seeking inspiration.

So, keep Sparking everyone. I'm in the trenches Sparking with you. Birdie

In addition to that inspirational message, Birdie gave us the scoop on what her trip to Good Morning America was like!

dailySpark: What was it like to meet Diane Sawyer?

Birdie: What you saw is what you got. I don't really feel like I met her. But, I admit I was totally not thinking about her at all. I was petrified that I was going to do something (for lack of a better word) stupid in front of millions of people. So, all I can say is that I was pretty nervous. As for Diane Sawyer...I do have to say that she has incredible legs.

dailySpark: What was your favorite part of your entire experience?

Birdie: I would have to say it was meeting new people. It was exciting to meet Rachael and Heather, the other women from the article that also lost over 100 pounds. They were very interesting and very real women who also have incredible stories to tell.

The behind the scenes look at Good Morning America was also pretty cool. There were household faces just walking around the halls at work just like normal people. I feel honored to say that I have been able to go into the GMA studio.

I also had a great time just hanging out with my husband, Nick. Time alone is precious and we enjoyed having a new experience together.

dailySpark: How did you stay on track when you traveled?

Birdie: Can I say that New York is cool! They have calorie counts on the menu at many restaurants as the result of a statewide law! Just like nutrition labels on food, I expect that one day calorie counts in restaurants will be a (nationwide) law as well. It's probably many years away, but I can only hope that it's sooner.

I found a cool item that was right under my nose. I've seen this before, but assumed it was off limits. Thanks to the NY law I found Starbuck's spinach, roasted tomato, egg and feta wrap for breakfast. It was listed at 270 calories in NY. So, paired with my SHORT skinny vanilla latte with 2 Splendas, it was delicious and a calorie bargain! Thanks, New York!

I went to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for lunch. The calorie counts were on the menu and the options were extremely poor. Most dishes were over 1,000 calories. I opted for a shrimp salad listed for about 550. I left a little on my plate hoping that I had about 400 calories.

I ate dinner another restaurant one night. No calorie counts on the menu! I had to improvise. I opted for barbecue chicken without the cheese and bacon and a plain baked potato instead of fries. I also split a grilled chicken salad with my husband as an appetizer. I had light dressing on the side. I didn't do dessert there. Options were horrible. I actually went to a drug store on the way back from dinner and picked up a pack of jelly beans worth about 200 calories.

I had a cheat meal in New York as well. I won't go into details, but I didn't count calories. So far I've been able to do this about 1-2 times per week and maintain. I'm keeping an eye on my indulgences, just to make sure I'm getting away with it.

Exercise was in the form of walking. We walked for miles and miles. It worked because I came home weighing less than when I went. So, it was a very successful trip!

dailySpark: Have people recognized you on the street?

Birdie: No. But, I've signed a few pictures at work!

If you missed Birdie's appearance in People magazine or on GMA, be sure to read these blog posts.

You can also watch her original video here! (Birdie is the second of three women featured in the video, and at the end of the segment, she shares her favorite SparkRecipe! Thanks in part to Birdie, Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken is atop the popular recipe list on SparkRecipes.)

Leave more positive comments for Birdie here!

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Congratulations good job Report
Birdie - Thanks for sharing your journey. Very inspiring. Report
As a mom of five I can relate to your story. I am motivated to keep focus. I now realize that it is ok to delagate task to my husband and kids. Trying to do everything was burning me out. I always felt like i have to be avaiable for everyone or that we mean I was a bad mother. Thanks again for your post. Report
CONGRATULATIONS and Thank you. I needed a litle kick in the posterior to get me going and reading about you provided just what I needed. Report
Truly an inspiration. Keep up the great work and thanks for taking the time to share and spark with all of us out here in the trenches with you! Report
i like this blog ma be some day i can look like this Report
First, congratulations on you magnificent accomplishment! You are my roll model.

Second, a wise old woman told me to treat myself as a beloved child. By now I think we all know that we can't do as well by others if we aren't in good shape physically and emotionally ourselves.

Finally, I have a little bone to pick with you. ;-) (I think it's a bone from a small chicken breast lightly grilled in a non-stick pan.) I know we're all different and what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another, but I try not to use negative words, such as "cheat" (I call that an occasional treat in much smaller portions than I used to eat.) Others include "diet," "must, "should" and the such. The same wise old woman said to me to be careful what I say, because I'm always listening to myself consciously or unconsciously.

Again, all I can say is WOW!

Peace and blessings,


Again, I Report
You truly are an inspiration, a doctor, married with 5 lovely children and YOU find the time to exercise!!! I will remember that everytime I begin to complain that I do not have time :-) Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and all the best. :-) Report
Awesome! Very motivational :) Report
totally awesome!!!! and totally motivational Report
Birdie, you look FAB! I know it must have been very difficult accomplishing what you have, being a doctor, wife, mother of FIVE, and you are only 30 something. When did you have time for your self let alone lose the weight. You are awesome!

Kuddos to you! Tammy39 Report
You look fabulous!!! Keep up the good work! You are definately motivation for me to continue working toward my goal. I've lost a total of 28 lbs so far but still have another 30 lbs. to go...seeing someone able to lose the amount of weight you did, and maintain it, definately gives me hope that I can do the same! Report
You are such an inspiration. Your article will help keep us focused. Keep up the good work. I am down 6 pounds. Report

I can't explain why but your story has stuck with me for weeks. I am so inspired by what you've done. You'll probably never know how impactful your story is. Thank you so much for your willingness to share it. Report
I just read your story and watched the video, and it served to inspire me once again to take off 30 pounds. Just 30 pounds ought to be easy compared to your fabulous weight loss, but it is still hard. I will think of you and all your challenges when I seem to hit the wall. thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks so much Birdie! I was feeling like losing the next 100 lbs was hopeless, but if someone with your professional and family commitments can do it, I can, too.
Thanks and stay healthy.
Linda Report
Wow, your story is really inspiring! You have done an amazing jod. I wish my weight loss will go as well as yours! Report
This was very inspiring to read, thank you! Report
I have just began trying to lose weight. I've done it before but I always gain it back plus a few pounds. I've been 'dieting' for a week now. The scale is down 4 pounds. It's just a drop in the bucket.... but YOU are an incredible inspiration!! Thank you for sharing your journey and CONGRATULATIONS on being in shape and looking so GREAT!!! Report
Birdie i just watched the video and you inspire me so with all that you had going on and still lost all the weight...mercy..i can say i have no are a great inspiration...thanks for sharing and thanks for the motivation...congratulations... Report
hi....Birdie.......great job look totally different and inspired me alot.thanks for sharing your story with us. Report
Birdie, You are amazing. Thank you so much for your motivation. Report
Thank you so much for the wonderful story! I am a mom of two and I have been looking for the right program to get me started on losing wait, and about a month or so ago I ran across this website. I so excited about the program and reading stories like yours helps me to keep on track. I dont see how you do it with five children and holing a job you motivate me a lot! THANK YOU! Report
Birdie, congratulations on all of your life successes. I understand the significance of the success you've found in the areas of health and fitness, as I've recently made some significant strides of my own. However, I've not lost one pound in the past month and compared to losing 35 pounds since January, this is very scary. I keep pushing though, and stories like yours remind me that I can realize my final goal, even if it takes longer than I had anticipated. Thank you! Report
Thanks, Birdie, I know that I can do it just like you, thanks for going public and sharing your story, you are awesome! Report
Thanks Birdie, You Rock! Report
Birdie, I am on slow dial-up so I cannot view the video but read your story....WOW, you are an inspiration!!!!!!!! Report
I also have lost 78 kilos and have a lot more to go I find that I am burning fat in unusual ways I do my own mowing of my yard and all my own housework and I walk at least an hr monday to friday I split that into three sessions and I either put my fav Elvis music on or a show I like to watch...and believe me it isnt falling off but coming off slowly and My doc approves of it he said I have less likelihood of it coming back if I stick to a good practical diet and dont over do often and I will achieve the goals I aim for.... one step at a time after all Rome wasnt built in a day and I didnt get into this shape overnight....So congrats girl I am thrilled for you....but dont underestimate the odd day of vacuming would surprise you how man cals ya can burn off Report
I really have a hard time making the "selfish" decisions and delegating. Although I have asked my husband and kids to help out with laundry and dishes, the mundane tasks usually end up on my plate. But I will try to come up with some creative ways to get more help-maybe saving up coffee money for more cleaning help. You are such a realist and very inspiring! Wishing you continued success! Report
Thank you Birdie for the inspiration! Because of you I was introduced to SparkPeople, already, 3 lbs later I'm on my way. Thanks so much for your good example. Report
Birdie, what a great thing you have done by going public. I am sure it was a hard decision to make. You have inspired many, many people. Showing all of us what is obtainable by perserverance and determination. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us sparkers as well as the millions of readers and viewers. Great motivation!!! Report
Hi Birdie, You are an inspiration! Congratulations! You look incredible!! Report
Thank you for sharing what you've gone through and how you managed restaurant meals. What you've done is phenomenal, and you look terrific! CONGRATULATIONS! Report
Birdie, you are so awesome!!
Look at how many people you've inspired with your story, including me!! Report
You look amazing and you are truly an inspiration! Report
Thanks for the comment about support. So true! You are doing so great! I watched you on GMA. What an inspiration. Report
Wow, Birdie, I just watched the GMA video of you and you are WEARING that yellow bikini, girl! Congratulations on your success and thanks for being such an inspiration. While I've practically just started my journey, I hope to one day be able to tell my story too! Continued success to you and your husband! Report
WOW! Congratulations...what an inspiration! Great job! Thanks for sharing! Report
Birdie, congratulations on your awesome success!! I just saw the clip on GMA. Thank you for sharing your story and being such an inspiration for so many of us. You look absolutely AWESOME!!! Report
You look great and I can't believe you did it with 5 kids and a full time job. I have 4 kids and a full time job so I know it is hard but if you can do it I know I can do it. Good luck to you and your family. Report
Hi Birdie and thank you for the follow up Guest Article. You're really spoiling us lady!!
Even when you're on vacation you amaze & inspire us, sharing eating-out tricks and showing us that even with all that travelling, you were able to stick to the program and come back from NYC weighing LESS than when you went.
Keep Sparking!
God Bless You.
Hello Birdie, Because of your story, I to decided to try SparkPeople. I need to take off 60 pounds. My computer skills are not that great but I will not give up on trying to find a way to master both tast. congratuations to you and thanks.
Frenchie Report
Birdie- I watched you on GMA and went to SparkPeople the next day to sign up. What an awesome site and thanks for helping me find this. Report
Hi Birdie,
Congrats for the great success. everybody know its so easy to gain weight and how difficult to loose weight in right way by maintaining diet n excersise. I am too trying to loose weight since march and lost nearly 4kg. But now i am getting less motivated in tracking my food on spark and do workout in gym becoz i get tired or i start having pains in my bone or muscles. help.........hope one day i too can wear bikini Report
Congratulations on your weight loss! You're an inspiration to all of us at SparkPeople. Thanks for sharing your story about Sea World. Keep up the great work you're doing in spreading the spark! Report
Congratulations to you on your success! You truly are an inspiration! You look beautiful, and you did a great job in your interview! Very poised and eloquent! Thank you for sharing your story about SeaWorld. It really illustrates your point about making your time a priority.

You're amazing, and I wish you continued success, and many healthy, happy years with your wonderful family! Report
Thank you for being an inspiration and for routing me to SparkPeople. Had never heard about it before your appearance on GMA. I am 70 years old and reasonable fit, but would like some suggestions for a 70 year old workout that I can maintain daily. I still work a full time job, am a widow, Type 2 diabetic and need to lose approximately 30 lbs. Any suggestions would be most appreciated. Report
Birdie's story in People is actually what tipped me off to SP. Truly inspiring and great motivation! Report
Congrats Birdie on your weight loss. I am also trying to loss weight, but, I am having a lot of trouble getting motivated. I work at night, so, I do not have anyone to work out with me. I am not giving up. Pray for me. Report
I have a question that only you can answer. If you feel like it can you tell me if you had to do anything surgical to get your shape back? I am 222 ponds & 5 8" I just don't know if I will get my body back. Report
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