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What I've learned so far

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hello Sparkies. It's been a while. Work has gotten crazy and I've been busy with, well, life! It's all in a good way though. I meant to write a six-month Spark anniversary blog but ooops I didn't do it so here I am more than two months after my six-month anniversary (we'll call this 8.25 anniversary blog).

I've lost almost 50 pounds since starting this journey. In my time on Spark I have seen people come and go, people struggle and the thing that makes me the happiest, people just starting out. I love the enthusiasm and knowing the courage it took to take that first step. Some are so full of hope. Some are very determined. Others are scared. I remember going through all this. Having lost weight before and being 10 months into this (two months on my own, eight with Spark) I thought I would share what I've learned.

This is the longest, most continuous period I have consistently worked at improving my health and losing weight. When I started, I felt like Rocky. I pictured myself running up those stairs faster than the speed of light oh in about six months. (I would of course be wearing more stylish clothes than those ugly, grey sweats). Piece of cake. WRONG. I can still hardly WALK upstairs without my knees hurting. Foolish I was. So here's what I've learned.

1. You cannot live and die by the scale. There are so many reasons your weight could go up or down on any given day. Use other ways to mark progress like the way your clothes fit, inches lost, tasks that have become easier, fitness improvements at the gym like a faster mile etc. I just broke through a two-month plateau.

2. Do it even when you don't feel like it. I look at exercise as a date/plans with myself. I wouldn't flake out on my friends or family. Once I make a commitment, I keep it. I decided to apply that to myself. I don't break a date to the gym. Those are plans. Just because nobody else but me is involved doesn't mean they can be broken or changed.

3. Losing weight will NOT:
-Fix other problems in your life
-Make you more interesting
-Make you a better person
-Fix your self-esteem
-Make you happy
Weight is only one aspect of who we are. The underlining reasons for becoming overweight don't disappear. They are still there and have to be addressed separately. I've learned this the hard way.

4. Losing weight will:
-Most likely prolong your life.
-Give you confidence
-Allow you to do things you couldn't do before.
-Give you something to brag about!

5. There will be setbacks and NOTHING will go as planned. According to my calculations, I should be down about 80 pounds by now. That didn't happen. Life got in the way. Celebrations, depression, vacation, illness, injuries. It's good to set goals but not reaching them doesn't mean the end or failure. Just means you have to readjust.

6. You can't wait to start living. You can't say: When I lose weight, I will do this or this will happen. Do it now. Don't wait to take that vacation, go on that date, join that club, attend that party, try that new class. This is a forever journey. You can't put life on pause or you will get sick of not living and give up because you feel so deprived.

7. People will not always support you. For whatever reason, some people will try to sabotage you, make fun of you or comment on how much weight you have lost or not lost. Ignore this as best you can and try not to take it personal. They are grappling with their own issues just like you.

8. Reward yourself. I've rewarded myself with big and small things. I'm taking a trip to New York next month. I've purchased nicer workout clothes and a few nice pieces of clothing. I bought some make-up I really wanted.

9. Don't expect overnight success. Like I said before, this takes a long time. Me personally, I have more than 100 pounds to lose still. I kept waiting and waiting for my progress to be noticeable but it really hasn't happened. I stopped waiting for that magical moment and realized there is no big reveal. There's just hard work every day.

10. You will still see a fat person when you look in the mirror. Just because your weight drops, it doesn't mean your mind will shift. Some days I don't see any difference. I still feel just as fat and just as ugly. Take pictures and compare to remind yourself how far you've come. Eventually your mind will shift.

11. You will hate yourself on some days. The frustration of the journey and the anger at getting to this point will make you not like yourself very much. Embrace it and then agree to forgive yourself and move on.

12. You have to accept that failure is a part of this game. There will be days when you don't stick to your plan, weeks you gain weight, times you are lazy and moments you throw in the towel. Get back up and go at it again. Don't stop.

13. You will find success in the most unexpected places. Recently I did a major house-cleaning. After four hours, I was still full of energy. I remember 10 months ago I was exhausted after sweeping and mopping one room, which is about 30 minutes of exercise. It felt amazing to not be tired doing something so routine.

14. You will feel dumb, clumsy, embarrassed and even weak when exercising. I can't tell you how many times in my boot camp I try to do something and I fall or just can't do it when everyone else is breezing through it. My first time on the elliptical, I could only go five minutes. My shirt rides up at the gym sometimes and my gut is hanging out. I've had people honk or scream at me through windows. I just try to ignore these feelings and comments. I tell myself some day I won't be clumsy and weak.

15. You can't do it alone. Look for inspiration wherever you can. Talk to people when you have a bad day or are feeling low. My fellow Sparkies have gotten me through some uncertain and dark times.

16. You will inspire people

17. You are so much stronger than you believe.

18. Some days you will be downright miserable because you can no longer make excuses, feel sorry for yourself or use food to cope. All those emotions you've been avoiding and covering up, guess what? They are ALL going to come to the surface. Sometimes it will happen in waves. Sometimes it will be when you least expect it. It will be uncomfortable. You will hate life some days. Learning new ways to process emotions is part of the journey.

19. Your reason for losing weight will shift. At first I wanted to look like a super model. Then I realized my a** will always be too big and I'm too short. Now I want to feel good about myself and make my son proud. I want to sit in chairs comfortably and all sorts of other little reasons.

20. Finally, surrounding yourself with people who already eat healthy and exercise is key to doing this. If you were an alcoholic, you wouldn't still keep hanging out with only alcoholics. You would find people who know how to have fun without liquor. I'm not saying dump all your friends but make a point to find people who have embraced a healthy lifestyle. They not only keep you in check but you can see what living a healthy life really looks like.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I haven't logged on here in ages but I can tell u that even if u don't see the change in the mirror it is incredible to me how much u have changed!

    I remember a photo I took of you last Easter with your family....
    From then to now is such a difference!

    Your family and friends are so proud of you... X
    2212 days ago
    What a great, informative, motivating blog Elaine! You are doing great!!
    I am the same way- I used to get wore out just vacuuming the house! Now I can bike 6 miles in 1 hour! emoticon
    Happy Sparkversary! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2218 days ago
    This is an incredible blog! Thanks for sharing all the wisdom that you have gained thus far on your journey. I wish I had read something like this when I was starting out. It would have helped prepare me for some of the hurdles that I was going to face. You've eloquently outlined so many of my own experiences on this difficult trek to a healthy new me. You are doing remarkably well, and you have the attitude to ensure that you WILL reach your ultimate goals, I know you will! You are amazing!
    2220 days ago
    Looks like you have learned a lot of the same things that fI have. I think you are doing a great job.Setbacks,disappointment,depress
    ion,falling of the wagon and still having the mental mindset to keep going. These things happen,but it is how you handle them that makes all the difference.
    You are a better person already for learning all of this.
    2222 days ago
    I'm soo proud of you!!! I couldn't have said it better myself. I think people get soo wrapped up in losing weight they bypass all the lessons that go along with it. I think learning those lessons are key to successfully changing a lifestyle.
    2222 days ago
    Sorry I'm a few day behind in getting to your blog but I think you are doing fantastic! emoticon It would have been easy to give up but you didn't! You should be proud of yourself for what you have accomplished! emoticon
    2222 days ago
    You're doing great
    2224 days ago
    Great blog !!! Some of those things I really need to know as I start my journey. Keep up the good work. You can do it!!!! :)
    2224 days ago
  • CANNIE50
    Oh, honey, this is SUCH a wonderful blog. I hope lots of people get to read this. I so enjoyed reading about your experiences and the wisdom you have gained. You are a brave and wise woman and I wish you many more blessings to come.
    2224 days ago
    It's people like you who make SparkPeople such an encouraging, uplifting place. Give yourself a
    2225 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/19/2013 10:16:03 PM
    Yes Yes Yes to everything you've said!! Thank you for taking the time to write it all out and being so honest. I am so proud of your journey! And, looking at pictures, you can definitely tell your work is paying off!
    2225 days ago
    Awesome blog! Congratulations on all you've accomplished!!!
    2225 days ago
    you have come so far, be proud!
    2225 days ago
    Congratulations on your weight loss and your education! Great blog! Thank you for sharing! emoticon
    2225 days ago
    2225 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.