MSSUNBUG
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No, Thank YOU & Some Answers to Questions From My Last Blog

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm completely overwhelmed and humbled by the response to my last blog. As I'm writing this, it's up to over 1,050 comments. I've been showered with spark gifts, incredible compliments on my sparkpage and via sparkmail, touching stories of others' struggles and fears, and a tremendous sense of camaraderie and community. I'm so overwhelmed by it, in fact, that I haven't been able to fully take it all in--both in that I haven't yet had the time to read all 1,050+ comments and in that I can't yet begin to absorb or process this much congratulations and commendation.

To anyone who said thank you for my share, allow me to say back thank YOU for your time to read and bear witness to my journey. To anyone who offered congratulations, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. And to anyone who felt safe enough to share some part of their own journey and experience, thank you for your inspiration and support. Honestly, there's not enough I can say in response.

The prospect of attempting to answer all the QUESTIONS I got seems overwhelming, especially with the impending busy-ness of the holidays. So I've decided to use this space to address some of the recurring questions I received.

HOWEVER.

*Insert huge, giant, ENORMOUS disclaimer here*

I have to say this. Please know that I am NOT an expert, and I'm a little uncomfortable doing this. I did not embark on this journey to BE an expert, and I did not make any of these changes with the intention of inspiring other people. I did it for strictly selfish reasons: because I wanted and finally believed I was entitled to my best possible life. If you asked others on sparkpeople (or elsewhere) who have lost 10, 50, 100, or 300 pounds, you'll get all sorts of responses to the same questions, I'm sure. My answers come through MY lens--the only one I've got--and my own experience. Take this all for whatever it's worth, and know that I do not fancy myself ANY sort of expert.

1) HOW DID YOU DO IT?
A lot of people asked me this. Simply said, I did it by creating for myself a wide support system that included a support group, a therapist, and select family and friends, paramount amongst these the most supportive husband that's existed, ever (no, seriously). Early in this process and with the help of this support system, I began investigating the reasons behind my overeating and healed what I needed to heal (which is what's on the INSIDE). However, I still had to do the footwork of diet and exercise, and I did. I did it by counting calories, tracking food, exercising, and tracking my exercise. I made sure that I ate fewer calories than I burned, but enough calories to sustain my body and activity level. Because I was dealing with what REALLY needed to be fixed or changed (the emotional stuff), this process felt a lot easier.

2) DID YOU HAVE SURGERY?
No. None. I know people choose this option and successfully lose weight, but this option was not for me.

3) DID YOU HAVE SURGERY TO FIX LOOSE SKIN?
No. I have some skin, but it's very minor and would not qualify me for surgery.

4) WHAT DID YOU EAT?
I ate three-four meals a day in the calorie ranges recommended by spark (each and every day--no "free" days). I did not use pre-packaged foods or meal replacements. I focused on eating majority whole foods, experimented with new recipes, and aimed for balance and consistency, NOT perfection. I still ate "goodies," but in small, controlled portions.

5) HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH CRAVINGS?
Through prayer, meditation, and positive self-talk. Behind every one of my food cravings was a craving for something deeper that needed my attention--the need for less anxiety, for less stress, for more "me" time, etc. I fed THOSE cravings and the food cravings disappeared.

6) DO YOU TRACK YOUR FOOD ON SPARK?
Yes. Every day. Every bite.

7) WHAT EXERCISE DO YOU DO AND HOW MUCH?
I started with walking. Then I added running. Then I biked. Then I did yoga. Then I joined a gym. Then I took up swimming (you get the picture). I do whatever exercise I feel I want to do. For instance, I hate exercise dvd's for the most part, and I forced myself to do them for years unsuccessfully. I do what feeds my soul and makes me feel proud of my body. I do it as much as I can or want to on any given day. In general, I exercise for 30-60 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week. Right now I'm in training for a triathlon, so that number is higher.

8) WHAT DO YOU DO FOR STRENGTH TRAINING?
I use free weights, equipment at the gym, and yoga. I do yoga 3 times a week on average, and I do weights or equipment 2 times a week.

9) WHEN DID YOU START RUNNING AND HOW?
I started running around 250 or so pounds. I started by running for 2 minutes at a time, then built up to a mile, then two miles, then three, etc. I listened to my body, pushed beyond my limits being mindful not to injure myself. At the time, I knew nothing about the couch to 5k program, but what I did on my own was similar. I also took the time and money to get good quality shoes that were appropriate for my running style. I cannot emphasize the importance of this point enough.

10) WHEN DID YOU START YOGA?
My serious practice didn't begin until I was about 200 pounds. I wish I'd started sooner. I DO use some yoga dvd's, but I prefer freestylin'. ;-) I recommend taking a class if you are considering yoga as the guidance of my teacher was key to mastering good form and preventing injury.

11) HOW DID YOU WEATHER SCALE/WEIGHT FRUSTATIONS AND PLATEAUS?
I didn't get on the scale frequently. I got on 1-2 times a month, maximum, and sometimes I let more than a month pass. My feeling was that I KNOW in my heart when I'm eating right and maintaining my program. I don't need a scale to tell me. Watching daily fluctuations was always too frustrating to me. My focus was on having a better life, one where I was active and proud of myself, and NOT obsessed with food. I knew if I did the footwork to achieve these goals, the weight would fall off in its time. There was no deadline for my loss. Taking attention off the scale made the process a LOT easier on a day-to-day basis-----FOR ME.

12) HOW DID YOU START TO LOVE YOURSELF?
To me, change from the inside out was going to have to come from a place of love, not a place of berating myself, hating myself, wishing myself to be something or someone else, criticizing myself, etc. It was going to come from "CAN" and "WILL" and "ARE" and not "DON'T" and "SHOULDN'T" and "GOOD/BAD" assessments of myself. Since I had never been able to claim I loved myself before, I started this by using the old "fake it until you make it" system. I woke up every day and asked myself, "What would a person who loved herself do today?" And I answered it. For instance, "Well she would get out of bed and probably make herself a healthy breakfast. Then she might take herself out for a walk in the beautiful sunshine. Then..." You get the picture. In time, I realized I wasn't faking it at all. My chiropractor lost 100 pounds himself and swears the only thing he did was repeat, "I am lean, I am lean" to himself hundreds of times a day, a la a positive affirmation.

13) HOW CAN I GET STARTED?
I know that starting can be the worst part. For me, I started small, tackling one day at a time. After all, I can do ANYTHING for one day. I decides what I wanted and what changes in my life needed to happen to get me there. I put myself as a top priority. I settle for nothing less than everything I wanted and deserved--from myself and from those around me. I made a plan and honored it--because me and my intentions deserve my own, and others', honor and respect.

14) WHAT POINTERS DO YOU HAVE?
Join a community of people who have the same goals. Surround yourself with positive examples and supportive people. Treat yourself with kindness and love. Investigate what's behind your eating. Find activity you love or are passionate about--or at least don't dread. Eat food or meals that are good for you body and your soul. Accept yourself exactly as you are, all those hairy imperfections included, even if you have to fake it for a long time, even if it feels painful. Set goals, but don't attach deadlines to them. Surrender into the process and enjoy your life in the meantime. Love yourself. Help others. And above all else, if you fall down seven times, stand up eight. Pick up, dust off, and just do it, every damn day.

Again, no expert here--AT ALL. These are the things that I did in MY journey, and I encourage you to test out what you need and what might work to make yours as effortless and enjoyable as possible. I'll be happy to cheer you across your own finish lines as you've cheered me across mine, and as I hope you will cheer me across future finish lines! The journey never ends, only shifts or changes. Accepting and allowing that has made all the difference here!

Love, gratitude, and namaste, sparkfriends. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all the beautiful love and support.
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