How Kicking Cigarettes Changed Amanda's Life*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Many of us begin the new year with a desire for a fresh start in a new direction. With the right habits, motivation and support, our goals can become so resolute they carry us to places we never imagined. We want to help you remain steadfast in your healthy living quests this year by introducing you to several people who set goals for 2013--and stuck with them all year long.  

Name: Amanda Sharpe
SparkPeople username: MOMMYSHARPE1        
Hometown: Nackawic, NB, Canada
Occupation: Customer Representative - Banking
Age:  26
Starting weight: 152 pounds
Current weight: 129 pounds

What was your New Year's resolution? To be happier and healthier in 2013, starting by kicking my smoking habit.

Why did you set a New Year's resolution?  I set a New Year’s resolution because I had an extremely hard year in 2012. I was determined to have 2013 be my positive year of change in every aspect of my life. I knew that it needed to begin with me.

What did you do to stay motivated? In January I kicked the nicotine habit partly because my kids wanted me to, but mostly because I wanted to! After almost a month, I decided to reinvest some of my savings back into myself. That’s when I signed up to my local gym. Once I began to get into a routine, the two things began to feed each other. My motivation became "I know if I pick up smoking again, I cannot justify my monthly gym membership costs," and on the other end of things, I also knew that if I were to abandon my new healthy lifestyle, I'd likely return to smoking.

Why do you think you stuck with your resolution when so many people give up? I think the main reason I was able to stick with it was because I wanted it so bad. I was tired of feeling sluggish, unhealthy and about twice my age! I wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror anymore. I also understood that sitting on my couch and complaining about it wasn't getting me the results I was looking for. Once I was able to accept that, I became ready to put in the work.

What tools, routines, habits, and motivators did you find most helpful in sticking with your resolution? Tracking your progress each day means you must hold yourself accountable. I tracked everything I ate (yes, even the condiments used on my food) and kept a fitness journal! I also used the available resources at my gym including weightlifting classes and meeting with a personal trainer. One of my favorite motivational tools was reading about others' successes. There's nothing like a good success story to make you stop and think "hey, if they can, then why not me!"

Did you ever slip up or hit a plateau? If so, how did you overcome it? I think we all have slip-ups from time to time. You have to be forgiving of yourself and be proud of how far you've come. When I get off track, I always made it a point to get right back on track. Not tomorrow or the next day but right away. Just because you had a slice of cake after lunch doesn't mean your day is a write-off. The next meal or snack is another opportunity to make a healthier choice.

What was the hardest part about committing to your New Year's resolution? Like most other busy women, I have children and a husband. Sometimes life feels hectic. As a mom, taking care of your own well-being often comes second to most other things. It was very hard for me in the beginning to understand that it's OK to do something for just myself. In the end, however, I think I did something that benefited the entire family. They now have a happier and healthier mother and wife.

Did you experience any other benefits (improved relationships, reach other goals, improved self-image/confidence etc.) while sticking with your resolution? My confidence has skyrocketed. I've accomplished two things I never imagined I could. Two things I've struggled with for so long. It truly makes me feel as though I could conquer anything and has motivated me to continue to set new goals for myself. I also love that I can motivate and inspire others in my life to make positive changes as well.

What advice do you have for others who might set a similar resolution for this year?
Don't give up, always hold yourself accountable, celebrate all your success -- no matter how small, understand you deserve to do something to better your health and wellness, and finally if you are willing to put in the hard work, I promise you will get the results. Anything is possible with dedication and determination.

Now that you've succeeded with this resolution, have you/will you set any other goals? My goal for 2014 is to focus on strength training and to start cutting preservatives out of my family's diet.

How did SparkPeople help you achieve success? SparkPeople's biggest role in my success had to be the amazing online community and your presence on my Facebook timeline! I loved seeing all the motivational posts and the chance to see other user responses to them. The different challenges posted kept things interesting and the other members were inspiring! Thanks!

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

Have you set up a plan to help you reach your goals in 2014? Our SparkPeople Goal Board is a quick and easy way to keep your goals close at hand. You can use this tool to enter and update your goals and action steps including images that will keep you motivated each day as you check in. The more you personalize your Goal Board, the more effective it will be to help you stay resolute all year long!