I Found the Secret to a Happy, Successful Life

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By SparkPeople member Michelle Stone (OUTOFCONTROL)

Legendary golfer Walter Hagen once said:
"Don't hurry, don't worry, you're only here for a short visit, so be sure to smell the flowers along the way."

I don’t know much about golf, but this is how I try to live my life, too. I gave up worrying toward the end of high school. I used to make myself sick with stress and worry over my grades, then in my senior year I realized that in the grand scheme of things it really didn’t matter. From then on, I put everything I did in proper perspective. I even managed to get through law school and still have a life.

Later on, when it came to losing weight, my perfectionist tendencies surfaced again. When I joined SparkPeople I told myself that I would not let perfectionism get in the way. I would track my food and exercise the best I could, but if I didn’t track all the time it was OK. Instead of trying to lose weight quickly, I set my goals for only half a pound a week. It took me almost a year to lose 25 pounds, but it went by quickly. There were days I consumed so many calories that the Healthy Lifestyle Tracker couldn’t compute it, but I didn’t regard those times as failures, just detours. I was still going to get where I was going, maybe just not as quickly.

My friends and family often wonder how I manage to go through life so calmly. The answer is that I take responsibility for the things within my control and let go of the things that are beyond my control. Making a decision and putting it into action can change things, but worrying doesn’t accomplish anything, it only wastes precious time. You can spend your time getting stressed out and worrying about things that may never even happen at all and playing the "what if" game, or you can use enjoy the time you have right now because every moment is a gift.

I feel like even the setbacks I have experienced along the way turned out to be blessings in disguise. In December 2007 I accomplished a goal that went way beyond my wildest dreams--I finished a marathon. But in the months after that, I sustained an injury training for a half marathon, and this injury has taught me important lessons.

At first I felt lost without running. I had come to identify myself as a runner and I was able to easily maintain my weight loss. This may sound unbelievable to those who know me now, but the old me, the one who was overweight and hated exercise, thought that being injured would be great because I would have an excuse to exercise. But SparkPeople unleashed my inner athlete, and this time nothing would keep me down.

At first I really struggled and tried everything I could to heal the injury and get back to running. But as the year wore on, I began to let go. I redefined myself, not as a runner, but as an athlete. I took up weight lifting and got back into swimming. And then the inevitable--I bought a bicycle. I’ve been told that eventually all runners end up on a bike. Where running had always been a challenge to me, cycling felt natural from the beginning. And best of all, it doesn’t hurt!

I’m still working on rehabilitating my injury, but even if I never run again I’ll be OK. If this never happened to me, I probably would not have taken enough time out from running to try all these other wonderful activities.

This progression has also led me to give up the scale. My success is now weighed by how good I feel and all the fabulous things my body can do, injured or not.

I am 37 and feel better than ever! As an attorney I sit at my desk all day, so I make sure to get my activity in early in the day. I'm at the gym by 5:30 am and then bike to work several days a week. Although I played sports growing up, I never considered myself athletic. I am what John "the Penguin" Bingham calls an adult-onset athlete. I plan on doing a 2.7 mile swim across Donner Lake in August and my first 100 mile bike ride in October. Thanks to SparkPeople I realize that even our smallest actions rarely go unnoticed, so I never say never anymore!

Could you apply this same outlook to your life? Do you spend much time worrying?

Do you have an inspirational story you think we should include on the dailySpark? Do you have any funny stories about weight loss? Send them to editor@dailyspark.com. Include the subject line: From the Mouths of Members

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