Sixteen months ago, while I was out on a Saturday run with my running group I came across a shiny copper penny on the ground. Never one to pass up money, I quickly turned around, snatched the tiny coin in my hand and took it home. Not quite sure what to do with it, I placed it in a jar on the counter, where it has been joined by many others since.
Now many of you maybe wondering what this has to do with this journey we call healthy living. The reason the jar of coins means so much to me today is not so much the value of the coins but what they represent--my journey to a healthier me!
I didn’t look down and find $11.37 one day, over the course of one week, in one month or even a year--in fact it has taken me over a year and four months to add each coin of varying denominations to the jar. Some are worth more than others, but every coin counts, whether it is the quarter I found on the side of a busy intersection or the very first penny I found in August 2007. Separately they are small in value, but together, WOW, what an impact they make!
On Friday, December 26, I celebrated my 3rd anniversary as a member of the SparkPeople community. Just as the coins carry little value alone, the same is true with this journey we call healthy living. While losing a few ounces here and there doesn't seem like much, when you add them up over a 3 year time period, my loss has totaled almost 70 pounds. But more importantly than losing the weight, I have finally discovered the key to living life and that is to appreciate every step of this great journey, even if that means falling flat on my face.
Below is my list of the top 10 lessons that I have learned on this marvelous journey!
- DO NOT expect changes to happen overnight. I learned early on to accept even the small progress I had made. Giving up was and never is an option.
- The mind changes so much more quickly than the body, but know that the changes are happening. As my running coach told me a couple of years ago when I was struggling with a plateau: “Nancy, all changes within the body must begin at the cellular level, all the way down to the powerhouse of the cell called the mitochondria. Just imagine how many cells you have and how long it takes for the changes to occur where you can see them on the scale. But trust that the changes are happening.”
- Learn to let go of perfection and many times the guilt that follows. It isn’t what I did or didn’t do every now and then that got me where I was, but what I did or didn’t do on a consistent basis that did. "Aim for progression, not perfection."
- DO NOT allow the scale to determine your self-worth. You and I are more than a number on a scale--we are humans with lots of challenges, but no matter what the number on the scale reads, we matter!
- View this new way of living as a journey--one with lots of twists, turns, obstacles, detours, and roadblocks, all of which can be overcome when we accept them as a way of life. Just as you would not turn your car around on a trip at the first detour; same is true for this journey will call healthy living. Accept setbacks but don’t allow them to define you.
- Ditch the diet mentality. If you look at this journey as only a temporary means of getting to a certain number on the scale, then you need to re-evaluate your journey. Living a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong endeavor filled with lots of challenges, all of which can be overcome by embracing healthy habits.
- Allow others to help you along the way. Three years ago, when I joined SparkPeople never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined how large my circle of friends would be today. I have met some of the most inspirational people from around the globe. From my best gal pal in Florida, to my running pals in Canada, England, and all across this great country--everyone is a true inspiration to me every day.
- Forgiving myself when I stumbled. We are fallible beings and when we focus on the could’ves, would’ves, and should’ves, this can only allow us to lose sight of the goals in life and that is to be healthy, active people ready to embrace life's challenges.
- Find a passion, whether learning to cook healthier meals or taking on the challenge to do an activity that you never imagined yourself doing before. These activities allow you to take the focus off the scale and put it on you. For me running is something I dared not even thought I would be doing 3 years ago, so every time I run, whether just for fun or in a race, I have won.
- Learn to accept where I am today! No matter what the scale reads or what size I wear, I still have something to offer the world. As long as we have hope, it’s just a matter of time before we make our dreams come true.
These are just a few of the many lessons I have learned on this incredible journey in the past 1096 days and as I continue on this quest I am sure that there will be many more lessons to learn.
HAPPY SPARK ANNIVERSARY!
How were you introduced to the SparkPeople Family? What lessons have you learned? Do you celebrate your Spark Anniversary? How do you plan on celebrating the milestones in your journey?