Life Can Do a 180 in 365 Days--Mine Did

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Happy Spark-versary to me! Today marks not only the anniversary of my employment here at SparkPeople but also my Spark-versary.

Last March, my boyfriend was laid off. Late one Sunday night, we were watching TV and cruising online job sites. I stumbled across an ad for an assistant editor/writer position here at SparkPeople. I was working as a business reporter and columnist at a large daily newspaper but wasn't truly happy. Business writing wasn't my passion. Writing was, along with healthy living--particularly healthy cooking. I was stressed, restless and anxious.

Just two weeks before, I'd had a conversation with my editor about my future in business, a department where I'd been transferred just six months before. My boss, an ambitious and talented journalist about a decade my senior, saw talent in me, praised my stories and wanted me to love business writing as much as she did.

I had been writing a careers column called life@work, about people who found passion in their work. I wrote about brothers who left corporate life to found a nonprofit that helped Guatemalan schoolchildren, a woman who started a vegetarian frozen foods company with her family, a couple who invented bathtub bumpers to protect their two young sons. Each week, I listened to interesting, heart-felt stories, and I felt twinges of envy. I was passionate about sharing their stories in the most honest and engaging manner possible, but I wanted to have a story worth telling. I wanted my own passion.

"I have passion for writing but not for business," I told her. "I want a job where I wake up every morning excited to go to work, like the people in my columns."

"Good luck," she replied. "Jobs like that don't exist."

I smiled and said nothing. They did--I was sure of it. And I knew that sooner rather than later, I knew I would take steps to find a job I felt passionate about.

I wrote up a cover letter, sent my résumé off that night, and got a response within a couple of days. (Tip: Always keep your résumé updated. If you wait until you need it, it could be too late.)

Less than a month later, I was sharing an office with Coach Nicole and the rest of our Cincinnati-based content and community team.

When I left print journalism, I knew I was making the right decision. I knew I'd be happy. I knew I had found a job that I could be passionate about. I just didn't realize how much I'd change. SparkPeople has changed my life away from the office, too.

I gained 40 pounds after college and worked hard to lose them during the year I spent in Korea. I walked everywhere, ate sensibly, worked out a few times a week and lived a low-stress life. But after two years at the newspaper, 12 of those pounds had crept back on. I was perpetually stressed, anxious more often than not and too exhausted to work out most nights. I made it to my Monday night yoga class, but some weeks, that was the majority of my exercise, aside from walking to interviews with sources around the city.

I ate erratically and often found myself going way too long between meals and reaching for whatever was in reach--usually junk. For a vegetable lover like me, this was a habit that made me unhappy.

Suddenly, I found myself in an environment where fitness and wellness are encouraged and supported. I joined a gym that's a couple of blocks from our office and starting taking Coach Nicole's weekly Spinning class. I learned to ride a bike, trained over the summer and eventually rode 85 miles for a day trip with friends.

I started taking Pilates classes again for the first time in years, and I went to the gym daily. I used the Nutrition and Fitness trackers, found new healthy recipes on SparkRecipes (and added some of my own) and did one of the Bootcamps!

After a few months, I was taking Spinning three times a week and practicing yoga most days. Within six months, those 12 pounds were long gone, and now I feel stronger and healthier than ever. I've set some toning goals and a few other fitness goals, too. Earlier this month, I completed a 30-day exercise streak, I've even decided that running isn’t so bad.

SparkPeople has helped me realize another dream: Becoming a registered yoga teacher.

In March, I started a 200-hour Ashtanga vinyasa yoga teacher training program. I've completed 50 hours, and I've already overcome a few personal hurdles--including a slight fear of headstands!

I'll be certified by the end of June, so stay tuned for more yoga-themed blogs, articles and much more!

My first year at SparkPeople has been like graduate school. I was passionate about nutrition and healthy living before, and that interest has only deepened. Every day I learn something new from our Experts--and our Members. Thank you to each and every one of you for sharing your stories, tips and experiences.

Keep dreaming, keep hoping, and don't let the nay-sayers get you down!

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
--Paolo Coelho

What has changed in your life since you joined SparkPeople? Has losing weight and/or committing to a healthy lifestyle prompted you to set other goals in life? What are they?

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Way to go!! Report
What a great article! Thanks for sharing and being an important part of Spark People. Report
Congratulations!!!! Report
Congradulations. You are inspiring. Glad to hear about your success. Love your articles. Report
Losing weight has prompted me to look at making other changes in my life. It has empowered me to take on other challenges that I thought were unreachable. We are only limited by what we tell ourselves is possible. Report
very motivating, congrats Report
I am so happy to see a journalist who is living her passion, not just writing the story but living the story. Report
Congrats on your accomplishments...and happy spark-versary!

Kel Report
Very inspiring story. I'm so happy for you. Congratulations on your success :) Report
I hope that you share your story with your former boss too because it sounds like she cared about you. She probably needs an encouraging ray of sunshine some days too and you sure do shine! I am so happy for you and that you didn't give up. The SparkPeople Company and you are a great fit!! Chris Report
Thank you for your inspiration. Just today, I had a dream come true, and it too was about my work. You are absolutely right about keeping one's resume updated. Last winter, I missed an opportunity because I not only didn't have my resume updated, but I couldn't locate it. But that's okay, because I'm on track with that now. Thanks again. Report
There was a time when I was grossly overweight.I was not happy with my figure, I looked awful. Because of my busy schedule.I kept promising to myself that I will be on a strict diet and also workout in a gym. then i do regular exercise and loose weight.and do changed myself.
I am truly a different person. I enjoy exercise like never before; mostly I enjoy how much better it makes my body look. My husband notices too which helps! ;) I also am more consciencus about my food choices which makes me feel better about myself. I feel overall like a healthier person and it's all because of Spark. I've also made some wonderful new friends who stick with me through the good and the bad and it's fabulous! Thank you SPARK! :) Report
My Sparkversary was in March also. This has been the best thing to happen to me in a long time. And yes ,to like no love your job is a true plus in life. How can you not be motivated when you are surrounded by so many wonderful people each and every day! Congratulations! Report
that was very inspirational. I believe the everyone has the potential to do what they waqnt, it is just a matter of reaching for it and never, ever giving up. Report
Thanks for the hope in your article. I, too, believe there is something more out there ~ And, I'm determined to find it :-) Report
Congratulations on finding your passion. I think it's so horribly sad that people "hang in there" when they are unhappy, either in their jobs or personal life. Live is full of choices, large and small, but we all have the choice to be happy, sometimes it just means taking a chance. Report
Thanks for sharing... more people (outside of need to have that same love and zeal for life... we'd all be better off Report
Happy Sparkaversary!! Glad that you have found not only a job you love but one that will grow with you. This has been the best experience of my life. I have learned a lot about food and nutrition. I'm not good at it yet but it has helped. Love your job, because we all love what you all do! Report
Thanks for sharing your very inspirational story, this is my first post as I was waiting for the right one. You have inspired me in many ways - Thanks Report
You found paths for your passion and I am so happy for you. Emotions just flooded through me reading this. I am trying to the do the same and feel like I just can not touch it yet. You inspire. I will keep reaching. Report
My life is in a period of transition. My divorce will soon be official. I will be moving back to the United States probably by the end of the year. That move will also most likely force a career change. I am working out (5 days in a row so far - that is practically a record for me). Your story, along with SP and other sources, gives me the courage to not be afraid of this change. It is an opportunity to chuck a lot of the bad things in my life in the bin, and to replace them with lots of good things. Report
Happy Anniversary! i hope and pray that I get a better job Report
Happy Spark Anniversary!
It's always wonderful to find a job that doesn't seem like a job. Glad you found that at Spark People.
I bet it's a great place to work. Report
Stephanie, Happy Spark-anniversary!
Great work on finding a job you love, losing weight and pursuing your dreams in becoming a yoga teacher. You go girl!
You motivate me to do better.
I'm in the process of updating my resume (just had a great class on it and 'interviewing' tips)...getting close to retirement and know I will have to work in order to live in this area....but want to do something I enjoy.
Congratulations on reaching your dreams. Report
My attitude has gotten more positive, I have more encouragement, am with positive people and that has changed my outlook on life, my outlook on my own self...inside and the outer shell. And though I may never be skinny or lose the weight I'd like to, at least I am living healthy and doing what I can to help my body, my mind and my spiritual side. If I never lose a pound, I know I am doing all I can. Report
Congrats on your accompishments, I soo look forward to seeing many more blogs on yoga. I too have a passion for yoga and try to practice daily Report
Congrats! What an awesome true story:) Thanks for motivating so many people. Report
Steph, you are truly inspiring! I'm a writer too, and I'm constantly thinking about what else should I do with my life (Many options come to mind, but I don't know which one to take with vigor and confidence.) This article has given me to assurance in knowing I can pursue something that will make me happy. Thank you for work on SparkPeople! Report
This was so motivating! Thank you! Report
SP has saved me in every way, I dont have a lot of friends and the ones I do are not healthy eaters and never exercise.....atleast on purpose. I needed a friend and SP became my very knowledgable and motivating friend, the building block to my motivation. I have so far lost 20 lbs and on my way to losing the last 15! I have made great spark buddies and It has also gave me the confidence to face one of my biggest fears.....driving! For some reason I feared driving for forever, I still only have my restricted but I am driving and that it huge for me. Before SP I would start sweating and having irregular heart beats just at the thought of driving so I have come along way with my weight and one of my biggest fears. I am gaining a confidence that I could have never gained on my own and I am so thankful for SP! Report
Thanks for the great story, Stepf! Very motivating and uplifting! Congratulations on your Spark-versary! My husband was just laid off from IBM (formally on the 27th of this month), and he is scrambling to get his thoughts together on what direction he wants to take his career. After almost 13 years with IBM, he's let some of his "down in the trenches" skills get soft (he's been in management as a consultant for over 10 years now), so he's wondering if he should get himself back to basics. It sucks to have been laid off, but a blessing in disguise to have the freedom to choose where he wants to go next. Thanks again for this timely article! Report
Now THAT's a job worth celebrating! Congratulations! And thank you for all the inspiration you give us everyday - you yourself, AND all your colleagues at SparkPeople!
I wish I could work at SparkPeople! Report
It's not easy to find what you really love to do and then be able to do it! CONGRATULATIONS on your success: it shows! Report
I am back in school now studying physical education and fitness. I realized when I was in a job that I could not stand, doing the same thing I had always been doing loosing my job might of been the best thing I could of ever done because it gave me a chance to step back and work on me. My life has defiantly done a 180 since I lost my weight because I realized that there was a different person under all that weight Report
Thanks, as always, Stephanie. I love reading your contributions. I am weeks away from beginning my dream. You are giving me the encouragement to stay committed and see my dream to reality. Report
Congratulations.Yours is my first post.This was the right story in the right moment. Report
great story!
today is a day for uplifting stories, get your dream out of the sock drawer kind of day - watch this and be full of hope!
Congrats and thank you for sharing your passion. I really needed this blog post. I'm at the cross-roads in my life and career. I needed the spark to relight my flame. Report
Congrats Stephanie on your Sparkversary! What an inspiration you are to all of us! Report
Congrats on your Sparkaversary! Report
Great blog and congratulations Report
Interesting article.....Congrats on your Spark-versary and reaching your goals. On another note......I have secretly desired to also become part of the Sparkpeople work force. I haven't totally decided in what capacity....or how I will achieve that goal. But.....your article......gave me the incentive to believe that it can....and will happen for me....thank you so much for your may have changed my life. Report
Seriously, you guys, your comments are SO motivating. I'm so lucky to have not only great co-workers but also a built-in network of inspiring people! Report
That is so freaky! I was thinking it must be a year now I have been with SP as well and just checked, and it has been 1 year exactly (I joined 15/4/2008)! As you have said, I have found SP indispensable and so useful to my weightloss (lost nearly 50lbs so far) and general well being. Well done on making the move to work at sparkpeople and achieving all your goals. All the best for the future! Report
Thanks steph,
I have worked for a major airline for 16 yrs and cant imagine donig that much longer.I have tried my hand at cake decorating thinking maybe that would take me into retirement age.I dont think so!!!Now that I'm on this healthy journey,I dont really enjoy spending alot of time on desert.I am now thinking more like massage.I know thats what I need.I'm thinking there are others out there who need human touch and deserve it .CONGRATULATIONS!THANKS FOR SHARING AND HOPE TO HEAR MORE FROM YOU!!! Report
Stephanie, thanks for sharing! You know... maybe others here will realize from reading your blog that 'even' if we're employed, we should be alert to career possibilities that are available and offer opportunity to transform a workday from plodding someone else's pathway into enjoying pursuing their own dreams while accomplishing a task...and even getting paid to do what they like!

I no longer work, but my time here as enhanced my LIFESTYLE... how I spend my time. While I have some new goals other than weight-loss and healthy lifestyle, my goals are like 'dreams that are in fact possible'. I don't speak of them, but they exist firmly in my plans. Report
That's fantastic! Congratulations! Report
Hey Stepfanie! Happy Sparkiversary!!!!! And thanks for sharing your story. You are an inspiration and I love to read your blogs. I must tell you, I think you have the perfect job. I am a writer/editor too and I love SparkPeople! What a great company to work for!! Congrats too on the yoga thing. Keep following your dreams. :) Report
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