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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Hey Stepfanie - what a great testimonial! I will look for your future postings - I enjoyed your blog! This would be a great series. Tell us about more people who've walked the talk!!!! Report
What a fantastic article!!!

Congrats on finding something you love...I am still searching! Report
Thanks for sharing and congrats, Stepf! You're a great inspiration around here and I look forward to the reviews of a fellow foodie! Spark has made me a more positive person. I'm not as much of a procrastinator as I used to be and I'm bolder about trying new things. As I type, I'm thinking of trying a remodeling project(may need advise from the DIY team) and I was even brave enough to fix my lawnmower myself! I've also become such a healthy eater my daughter begs me to fix something the way I used to(I think she really misses my fried chicken). I'm definitely a Sparkler For Life!
PS. I'm also ready to do volunteer work some place! Report
Way to go for following your heart!! many do not have the courage to do so. We are all so happy you did! love your artricals! Congradulations on all you have done! Report
I have only been a member for a few weeks and I already see an improvement. I started loosing weight at the begining of the year (as I have said in my previous posts, primarily because of a change in medicine which caused temporary anerexia) but with SparkPeople, I finally feel like I can do it. I've lost a total of 25 pounds since the beginning of the year (7 in the last 6 weeks) but I don't feel like I'm on a diet -- I am changing my lifestyle and habits. I am enjoying eating again. I don't eat "just because" I am eating regular healthy meals. Plus I have even joined a gym (which has been paid for by work, but I hope to keep it up). My clothes feel better, I feel better about everything me and life. Thanks SparkPeople. Congratulations to you and keep up the inspirational stories, they really help. Report
What a fabulous uplifting and inspiring story. Thank you; we're glad you're part of Spark! Report
Very inspiring! Report
I too am a writer who is unhappy with her subject material (pharmaceuticals -yawn!). In fact I just posted on my blog about it. I've been thinking for a long time that I need to formulate a positive plan for the future - your article has made me realise I should do it sooner rather than later. My only problem now is identifying my dream! Report
I joined spark people in december, but wasn't truly into it till recently. I have nocticed a change in me. I feel stronger, happier, more determined to live a healthy life. I am commited and I have more energy. Each day I get excited about what's to come. I am slowly overcoming my shyness. I am starting to live my life and not just look at it. Report
I was so thrilled when I found SparkPeople. I couldn't believe it was free! I loved the concept that good health is for everybody - not just those that could afford it. The tips and info on this site are invaluable.

Since losing 45 pounds almost 6 months ago (and surpassing my goal), and getting stronger and more muscle definition, I've been contemplating being a fitness instructor or personal trainer. It's something I'm curious about, since once my last baby is in school, I plan on getting a job outside the home (right now I do daycare). It would be ideal, since I'm passionate about fitness and nurtrition, but I don't know what it entails, so I need to do more research before I make up my mind. I also want to keep the wieght off for at least a year before I seriously consider it as a career option.

These thoughts would never have crossed my mind had it not been for the inspiration I find at SparkPeople. All the success stories and motivating articles are so encouraging. The community here really makes me think I can do it! Report
After reading the blog about workout buddies, will power and now this, I know that my biggest problem is not having a workout buddy or a health-minded partner. You are so fortunate to be working with like-minded people. I love my dear husband very much but diet and exercise is not what he is interested in at all. So I have to go it alone. And we are on the road a lot for his job so it really makes it hard to find the support that you are getting at your job. But I love Sparkpeople and the support that is here! Report
THANK YOU! That was a great blog - I'm about to move and need to start thinking about what I want to do when I grow up (before my kids beat me to it!) This gave me hope that "my job" is out there. I would love to someday work for SP too! Report
Thank you for a wonderful and inspiring story. I appreciate the enthusiasm and passion that go into making this website so very special! Report
Congratulations! I'm envious. I do like my job, but it doesn't combine my passions with a healthy lifestyle. No gym! No employer-encouraged exercise!

My life has also changed dramatically in the 14 months I've been here on SP. I've been promoted, feel stronger and more self-confident, and taken up running. I've also set goals in many areas of my life that I'm gradually working toward. It's made a huge difference in so many ways! Report
Congratulations - thanks for sharing! How has your boyfriend adjusted to the change in you? Hopefully he's beside you at some of those yoga classes..... I, too, had my life do a 180 when I was on vacation in Mexico about 8 years ago, and was too stressed, physically and emotionally, to relax on a beach chair. I'm now a certified yoga and pilates instructor, and I absolutely cannot believe I get PAID to go to the gym, lol! How lucky is that??!! Report
That's really great and congratulations. I know you feel and your excitement. I was the same way when I did over 1 year and last year was my 2nd. Then come August 22nd
I will be starting my 3rd year. When you hit those marks like that, you know that you can do anything and you are achieving well. I read your blog, you did it and stayed focused. Good for you. Take care, talk to you later and have a nice week. Did a wonderful job and you just proved to yourself that you have the willing to try anything.
Always, ERNA Report
Congrats to you! I just found this site last nite and joined immediately. I live in the tri state area (southeastern indiana)so cool to find out that this site is at home. Can't wait to get started. I have numerous health problems-one of which is 2 knee surgeries that didn't work. I have over 100 lbs to lose and have thought about yoga. I have found some online sites for large women. I am excited about this site and becoming a new better me! Report
Congrats!! I'm hoping to change jobs soon too, from retail to costuming for theater. I do that now as a volunteer but have a few leads on doing costuming for a living wage(or at least the same as retail) and being much happier with my career. SP is helping me to be more active and in charge of my own success and I think that will help in the career change. Report
Congratu-happy Spark-versary! Thanx so much 4 sharing your story. I'm job-hunting right now, so it really hits home extra, on top of your SP success. Report
Thank you for sharing your experience. Very inspiring! Report
Happy Spark-versary. Sounds like you've had a busy fulfilling year. You are truly lucky to wake up every morning and do something you love. And being a Yoga teacher is icing on the cake! Report
I'd love to work for spark! Happy Sparkversary! Report
:) Maybe I can still fulfill MY dream of working for :D Report
I am so very happy for you, that you found a job that you love so very much. I wish that I would have been so fortunate. I loved reading your Bog and will try to read many more in the future.

I joined SP Feb. 27. I have lost 12 pounds and lots of inches. I love eating all my healthy foods. They taste so much better to me than a lot of calories I was eating before.

Best of luck to you. You will encourage all of us. Happy Spark-versary to you and many more! Report
Great job it sounds like just what you needed. Congratulations. Never had a job that I loved. Report
It was nice to see that even "healthy" people have had to work to get there. I have been so frusterated with these last 10-15 pounds that I just can't seem to shake! Thanks for the extra push and dose of encouragement! Report
It's so great to hear the stories about the people that put this site together daily. Thanks for sharing yours!! Report
Congratulations Stepfanie! Your articles are always enjoyable to read and now I know why! Report
Awesome article. I've always imagined that I could be a healthier, active person but Sparks has helped me to see the ways I can make that a reality. Even if those in my life don't understand my reasons for taking on a healthier lifestyle I have found comfort being a part of the spark community. I hope to bring my life full circle when my spark-aversary comes around. Congrats on the yoga - i hope to become a trainer when i achieve my fitness goals. Report
Good for you on a nice article. Sparks has helped me to love fruits and vegetables. I am going to turn into a carrot or strawberry. I have also become a gym rat. I love working out. Report
Good for you. SP has gotten me to drink more water and to get into exercising more. Also very good recipes. Report
Wow! Congratulations...on all of the above goals met!!! SP has changed my attitude about my image, my food, my past and my future. I have a sense of control of my world...much of which controlled me and fed my food demon for so many years...until now, I did not realize how strong the demon was... hmmm
Thank you gave me the tools to change my direction and my life... Report
Thank you for sharing your story. I see myself in you in a way. I like what I'm doing but it gets me busier than I would like at times which takes me down the path of eating what's quicker (and not preparing in advance truly damages the building blocks you've worked hard to lay out) and not heading out to the gym (which really upsets me because that's the fun part for me). So seeing that you made it to a point where you got yourself to where you wanted and belong and getting from your words that you're enjoying it and you're the best you ever gives me hope that I too can overcome this stressful period and get to the point where I want to be - both physically and emotionally.

Again, thank you for this Report
Thank you for all the supportive comments! Report
Stepfanie, thanks for sharing your personal story. Finding the right sort of work can be life changing. (Or even life SAVING if it reduces your stress and helps you maintain a healthy weight!) I'd be happy to hear more about the career/health connection from you, also. Report
It will be my one-year Spark anniversary the end of this month; what has changed in my life since I joined? I have so much more information and can talk to my doctor more effectively. I feel better/stronger and have more interests (because of all the great teams I've tried and wonderful people I've met here on Spark!). That and 50 pounds gone has truly been life changing. Report
I knew those types of jobs exist, now I just have to find my own!! Oh and the quote is by Paulo Coelho, I love that book! Report
Great story, it will inspire others to not give up and go for what they want. I have wanted to lose weigh for years but never really tried until my daughter told me about SP. I joined in January and have lost l3 pounds, at my last doctor's visit my doctor took me off my cholesterol medications, which i had been taking for l5 years. I have worked in the pass and found that i enjoy staying at home. I take care of our home and our finances. My husband love it, when he's home he can relax and not worry about anything. Now i am also available to help his parents out and babysit our granddaughter. I'm a great believer in doing what makes you happy. Report
What a great blog!
Thanks for the inspiration. Report
I can share your passion: I'm a writer for a US company and it's just WONDERFUL. It is my dream job. I'm still struggling to adapt to full time work vs freelance but it's awesome. My 3rd SP anniv is coming up tomorrow. I managed to keep off 30 lbs (35 on a good day!); SP changed me completely and I'm sure it gave me the power to attempt to do what I do now. Report
Happy Sparkaversary to you!!! Thanks for the inspiration. Since I have joined SP I have put myself back on the list. I heard about the 'site' from a friend and since I have joined I have been incorporating it in my everyday life with menus and excersize and I can't wait to log on each morning. It has helped ME make myself happier. We are in the driver's seat of our destiny. FULL SPEED AHEAD!
Congrats to you Stepfanie! Report
I love your story! I have been a member of SP for almost a year and last December, I ran my first 5K race. I was a non-runner and didn't even like running in high school, but for some reason, my SP experience brought me to running. I am entering my fourth race. I am slow, but I have seen people ten years older than me running faster, so I have a goal to become a "real runner". I want to finish a race under 30 minutes. I still have a ways to go, but I know I will make it. Report
The perfect job is out there for everyone - it just takes some looking to find it. I'm an art teacher in the USVI, have been at the same school for 22 years, and wake up each morning looking forward to being at work.

Since joining SparkPeople and getting my youth back, I've started on a 250 square foot mosaic mural with my students. We're 75% finished, and should be done by the end of the school year. This has been a monumental task, but I wouldn't have taken it on pre-Spark - I didn't have the energy or physical ability to do this project.

And yes, life it too short to waste it on boring jobs! Report
Great inspirational story! I'm glad you have a career you're passionate about. Good luck with the remainder of your Ashtanga vinyasa yoga teacher training program. Report
Wonderful story and such good advice about being prepared and taking opportunities when they arrive and waiting and only having regrets. Report
Congrats! I have tried a couple of times to do something I liked only to find out that I really did not.....but at least I learned something.

But again, Congrats and pat your self on the back. Celebrate with an hour of Ashtanga.... Report
Thanks for sharing your story. It has reminded me to be who I want to be. I especially love your old boss telling you, "Jobs like that don't exist." You make your own reality and if you don't like it, you have the power to change it! Report
Stepfanie, Happy Spark-versary and congratulations on your job success. Wow! This is a very inspirational blog. It pays to just ignore the nay-sayers and go ahead with pursuing your dreams. I have a dream that I'm pursuing. There were many days when I wondered if I'm wasting my time going after becoming a healthcare professional. Yet, for some reason, I feel a strong pull in my spirit to go after it, and I see myself in no other line of work. After reading your blog, I have become more encouraged continue striving to reach that goal no matter how long it takes. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is very helpful. Report
Congratulations on your Sparkversary and successful job change! Your articles are great and it is inspiring to know that you took a leap and succeeded. I've been a member of SparkPeople for two years, but just got down to really using the tools and support here in the past month or so. I'm feeling much better physically and emotionally and I am finding ME again. Report
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