What Do you Value?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I got an email yesterday which really sparked some thinking on my part as I typed up my reply, and I thought perhaps it was worth saving for later reading also. So, here is the letter (included with permission from the author) with my response. I hope it helps someone... these thoughts are still racing around in my head and might prompt a more coherent entry later but for now, this is what you get.

And while some of what I say may seem hard or uncaring, I don't apologize for any of the sentiments I express. It's the truth as I see it, and as I have lived it.

Hi Aspen,

I read your Spark Page. What an incredible journey you have been on.

What is sad for some for some of us is that getting healthy is expensive. It's expensive to eat healthy and many of us can't afford a personal trainer. With the high costs of food, it's hard to eat healthy.

What I would like to know is how you got started? Did you just wake up one day and say "This is it. I'm tired of being over weight and I'm doing something about" I've told myself that many, many times.

I'm at 239 lbs. My goal is to get down to 170 lbs. by Dec. 31, 2008. I have a long way to go. My biggest down fall is the carbs. I love them all. I love my snacks. I don't like sweet potatoes.

I have a picky husband and son. I eat what they eat. We can't afford to make two meals.

Any suggestions? I would love to hear back from you.

~God Bless~

Hi Linda,

You're right, it IS an incredible journey, one that we are all on, one way or another.

I have actually been trying to lose weight ever since my children were born, and my oldest is now 21 and my youngest, 18. I have tried to exercise and eat right for that many years. I think if I'd had SparkPeople I would have had a lot more success on my own than I did. So it was not a 'one day I woke up and decided" sort of thing.

However, the urgency of it was steadily growing plainer to me. My knees were hurting more and more. I was having trouble doing very simple, basic tasks. Sleeping was getting harder and harder. My doctor said I was about to develop diabetes, and I had to go on thyroid meds and was about to need blood pressure meds. And I was watching my own mother's steady decline, much of it made significantly worse by her excessive weight that she'd carried for all my life. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and had several hospitalizations. She can barely walk now. And I knew that that was the path I was following as well.

My husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas 2006, and honestly, I couldn't think of anything. All I wanted was to get the weight off, and I knew by this time that I needed help. I never really expected that I would get that help - it was simply too expensive. My husband ended up giving me a coupon for a personal trainer... said I could spend $300-500 on one.

Honestly... that would have purchased about 2 months worth of personal training... and he thought that then I could do it on my own after that. I almost didn't want to start, because I knew 2 months simply wouldn't do the trick, and I really didn't want to be disappointed with another failure. But... after two months, I'd had such success that my hubby understood that I needed to keep going. Was it hard to spend that money? ABSOLUTELY! I felt horribly guilty about it. And it was tough finding ways to afford it. But we've managed by cutting out many other things, and doing without a lot.

I know that many or most people can't afford to hire a personal trainer, no matter how much they cut out of their budget. But everyone can find somewhere to save... even if it's cutting out a fast food meal or 3 in order to buy some decent meat, or leaving the cookies off the shopping list so you can buy fresh produce. Paying for cableTV? Wouldn’t it be better to be paying for a gym membership? Is that harsh? Perhaps it is. But the reality of what being severely overweight does to you is harsher. A shopping cart full of healthy food probably still costs less than doctor’s visits and prescription medicines. A gym membership is less expensive than hospitalization. The truth is that you will find the money for the things that you value. So what you have to do is ask yourself what you TRULY care about in this life: cable TV? That extra case of soda? A big new tv, or a new car, one more pair of shoes? If that’s where your money is going, that’s what you value. Now ask yourself, isn’t your health more important than those things? Isn’t the joy of a long and healthy life worth sacrificing a few of those things for?

My suggestions are this: Talk to your husband and son. Tell them how much you want to be healthy so you can be around to take care of them, rather than them needing to take care of you. Ask if they're willing to let you make 1 (or 2, or 3) healthy dinners a week. The other nights you can make the same things as always, and just eat smaller portions. Try to find ways to make those old dishes healthier. Look for tasty, flavorful recipes. Spices are your FRIENDS..they might be a bit expensive but they can really flavor up a dish without adding calories or fat. And GET MOVING. Exercise is also your friend! Just start small. Cut out sodas and drink water - that SAVES money! Cut your portion sizes a bit - that saves money as well.

Check at the YMCA.. a lot of people are able to go there for a good, inexpensive gym membership, and often they have trainers there you can use. Just start making small changes and you will be surprised how much you can benefit.

Keep the faith, Linda. Your journey is as incredible as mine is, and it's just waiting for you to start down the path. Believe. You CAN do it.

Stay in touch, my friend.


P.S. May I suggest that you not put a time limit on your weight loss. I've found that just sets yourself up for disappointment, and then you get discouraged and quit. Just look at five pounds. Say, I'm going to do ALL I CAN to lose 5 pounds. No one can be intimidated by losing 5 pounds. Once that five is gone, reward yourself with something non-food, like an afternoon to yourself, a special book from the library, a walk in the park, whatever you enjoy, then move on to the next five pounds. It will take as long as it takes... don't spoil the journey with the stress of missed deadlines. Just get out there and enjoy the trip!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    It so funny that you would have this as a title. I asked my 15 year old son this questions, has he retakes Algebra - for the second time. I told him until he developed his values and understood what he valued, he would likely fail again.

    Just like so many of us have had starts, and restarts so has my son. I asked myself that before I began this weight loss journey. Once I determined that, committed to it, found things that were sabotaging my efforts and ways to deal with them, this has been the easiest 15lbs to lose so far.

    I value my life, it is witnessed by my commitment to exercise, eating well and sticking to my food plan and praying and meditating for my emotional balance;

    I value my family, it it witnessed by the example I set, my hard work ethic and supporting them in their values;

    I value my job, it is witnessed by working hard and delivering what I promise.

    When I remember what I value and I am honest with myself, how can I cheat, ever? I can make a decision to OCCASSIONALLY have a fancy dinner out with my family and eat what I want, MODERATELY. It's early in the game, but so far so good. Fifteen pounds in one month. Who'd thunk it.


    3615 days ago
    Very inspiring. :) Thanks
    3616 days ago
  • LNINAS2008
    WOW!!! I've read some blogs but you hit it on the nail. You are absolutely right about what we value, I heard someone say that before. I think that we have become to materialistic and put our comforts ahead of what's important. Taking care of ourselves is so less cheaper than those medical bills. I think that your ready to write a motivational book, seriously you should. emoticon
    P.S. What a great message to start my week, Thanks
    3627 days ago
    As always you are an articulate and compassionate friend. Excellent advice.
    3628 days ago
    I agree with you on what it is you really want comment. I don't have cable tv, or all that other expensive entertainment because I have internet, and I find I get alot more out of that.

    Because I live alone, eating healthy is not that expensive for me, I just have to make choices. I can buy fresh veggies or potato chips.

    Exersizing, the best exercise of all is walking, and that's free. All you really need is a good pair of tennis shoes.

    It's all in what you really want to do with your life.
    3629 days ago
    I agree with your letter, you made valid points all the way around the sticky issues. I've had a personal trainer, gym membership, and very nice home workout equipment and the truth is it takes caring enough about yourself and your future to keep going. If money is tight buy a fitness or shape magazine and follow along with some of their routines and take the ones you like and come up with your own workout program. If you love what your doing you will stick with it. And slowly add in the healthy food and drink lots of water and before you know it your right on track! Thanks again for sharing.
    3630 days ago
    Well said Jules!!!!!! emoticon
    3630 days ago
    A beautiful letter, Julie, and some beautiful responses already! Yet another example of why you're such a wonderful person and a wonderful motivator here on SparkPeople. Hugs!!!!! Have a wonderful day.

    (I was going to reply to your comments on my blog here, but typed too much and didn't want to overload YOUR blog with talk about me... so I posted it on my blog instead.)
    3630 days ago
  • WHGRN60
    Well said, Jules!! It's so true that what we value is what we will make happen, one way or another. Is healthy food more expensive than regular? Sure, but I rarely eat out anymore, so I end up saving money. And the gym membership and personal trainer are WAY less expensive than some of the bad habits I could be doing. I choose to make the investment in me, in my future.
    3630 days ago
    You are so right about the fact that we find the way to do the things we truly value. Even if we don't have the money to buy the 'right' healthy foods, or go to a gym, or get the expensive help that's out there, there are ways to be healthy.

    I remember when I used the excuse that 'healthy food' costs too much. Most of the inexpensive foods are way unhealthy and very high in carbs and fat -- and also addictive! It's easy to fall into the mindset that says: "I can't afford to get healthy".

    But the reality is that we choose what we eat. There are inexpensive alternatives. When I was cooking for a young family, on a tight budget, I could buy cheap (higher fat) hamburger or cheap chicken. I could then prepare it in a healthy way or a fat, greasy, high carb way. I could make it in a way that lasted one night, or gave us leftovers for two or three days. I could by cheese slices for cheap grilled cheese sandwiches. I could grill them with loads of butter, or go with slower cooking and a barely greased pan. (I could go on and on about stretching that buck!)

    It's all about choices. Even the unhealthy, cheaper foods can be prepared in a more healthy way if we put our minds to it.

    And what we choose to spend our time on comes in here, too. Do we sit in front of the TV? Or do we decide to be more active with our loved ones? Do we buy prepackaged cakes? Or make homemade lower calorie muffins?

    It's all about choices. I've got to say, I've made good. healthy choices and bad health-sucking choices over my lifetime. I've decided it's time to take a positive turn and do the healthy thing again. I feel soooooo much better when I do!

    3630 days ago
    Excellent Jules!

    I so agree about not putting a limit on the weight. I used to always pay more attention to that number than anything and I think it set me up for failure all too often. This time you know I usually play a weekly challenge with myself and funny that big number doesn't even cross my mind for the most part...except when I get impatient with the whole journey.

    Thanks for sharing this and BIG THANKS FOR BEING YOU!

    3630 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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