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First year on Spark – weight loss and transition to maintenance

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I joined SP a few weeks after our baby was born. I wasn’t obese and I was in decent shape, but I was carrying around extra weight around the middle that I didn’t want or need.

After our 3rd baby, my DW and I did weightwatchers and we both lost the baby weight (about 20 lbs, from 200ish to 180ish). After stopping WWs, I resumed my old habits and the weight came back. I was back up to 203 and decided that I needed a longer term solution. I found SP by accident. I didn’t see much difference between it and WW online at first, other than the price (advantage: SP).

I began with tracking food and fitness and made strong progress in first few months. I made it to my initial goal of 180 within 4 months and have been in the 177-185 range since then (at least 8 months). I would like to lose a few more, ultimately getting to about 170, but I am not in a rush to get there at this point.

MANDELOVICH had a great blog recently titled “Letting Go”. She had a great discussion about weight loss, ideal weight, lowest achievable weight, and lowest maintainable weight. 180 +/- is a maintainable weight for me. I don’t know how long it will take for me to get to 170 or even if it is a maintainable weight. I don’t know if it is even the right target (considering the many discussions I have read and participated in about what the number on the scale represents and doesn’t represent. Being a goal oriented person, it provides a good target, but I don’t get too emotional about the progress or lack of progress on a day to day basis).

My main fitness activities have been running and swimming with some skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and biking mixed in to keep things interesting. I have been tracking my running and swimming for a while and have had a long term goal of hitting 1000 running miles in a year. As I lost weight, I increased my mileage and had a really solid second half of 2012 and finished the year with 888 miles. I continued to keep up the mileage into this year and just realized that I have had 1,100 running miles in the year since joining SP (plus over 150 swimming miles too). Yay! The extra miles are kind of a double edged sword though. The miles burn lots of calories and I find that I can really chow down after a long run. As long as I am mindful about not going overboard (at least too often), I can usually maintain reasonable balance.

An advantage of losing the extra weight has been an improvement in my pace, strength and stamina running. Many of my running PRs are from 2000-2003 when I was living in WA state, in my early 30s and competing in a lot of running races and triathlons. As I hit 40 and beyond I figured that breaking my old PRs was not going to happen, but I am feeling strong and think that I have a shot at breaking a few of them, especially the longer distances. My best 10k race was 45:11 (7:17 pace) and I have had training runs in the 47 min range. My best HM was 1:41:30 (7:45 pace) and I had a recent training run in 1:45:50. I have a 10k coming up in the end of May and am looking at a HM in Oct.

The trackers and feedback on SP has been great. I am very good about getting enough water, usually drinking about 3 Nalgene bottles a day (about 12 8 oz glasses), though I am less good about logging it. When I am not traveling, I do well tracking my food. The tracker diligently tells me that I am not losing because I am consistently at the upper end or over on my daily calories. The fitness tracker tells me that I have logged over 20,000 fitness minutes in the past year and that I have been burning over 3,500 calories per week every week since I joined. (OK, I realize that the calorie estimates are just that, estimates. I know that they are probably off, but they are another good source of feedback).

The other source of feedback has been the Sparkfriends I have made and interacted with. My first few months on SP, my only SF was Sparkguy who always said “Hit like if you did 10 minutes of fitness today!” on my friend feed. As I started interacting with others, adding Sparkfriends, reading and commenting on their blogs, joining teams, and participating in team challenges (special thanks to MOMIN09 for organizing the Amazing Race challenge and Team F), my SP experience has gotten richer.

It is great, like having my own cheering section when I have success (from small successes like getting the kids all out on the bike trail to big ones like completing my dissertation at the beginning of the month), having a listening ear when I need to vent, having a vast bank of experience to tap into when I have a question or problem or need advice (anyone who hasn’t checked out the resources that TINAJANE76 and the “At Goal and Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance” have put together to document and support folks in maintenance, really should).

The next few months will likely be stressful. We are moving from MA to West Point, NY, getting the kids out of their school and starting them in their new school, starting my next job (teaching engineering at the U.S. Military Academy). Despite all that, I know that I can maintain the progress that I have made so far by sticking to the sustainable and healthy choices that I have adopted and that have gotten me to this point. A great first year with SP! For the next year, I plan to continue to be active, strive to make healthy food choices, be a positive role model at home, and stay active in the SP community!

I don’t have a good before/after comparison photo. Instead I will leave you with this photo of my home team cheering section:

Also, don't let this be your excuse for not getting out there and getting it done!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon emoticon Good luck on your move and new teaching position. You have a great local cheering squad.
    1847 days ago
    Love the pics of the kiddos:) Congrats on the new job and all that progress!

    That is why I tend to stay away from the scale:) Would you rather be a certain weight or PR?
    1848 days ago
    1850 days ago
    Congrats to your emoticon !
    Thanks for sharing your experience, I liked this blog a lot.
    1850 days ago
    You too are making your SparkFriends' experience richer through blogs and postings like this one...congratulations on your Spark-anniversary and your accomplishments, and Thanks for your encouragement!

    LoL on the Dilbert!
    1850 days ago
    congratulations! I always enjoy reading about your activities, really spurs me on to keep improving!

    I also enjoyed Mandelovich's "letting go" blog. Really got me thinking.

    The blogs really help me to continue to maintain and improve myself.

    Best of luck with the move. Love your cheerleaders!
    1850 days ago

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on the new job!
    1851 days ago
    Great blog! I am in the same boat as you, thinking I'm OK at my current weight (my body LOVES to weigh 162), but thinking that 5-10 less would be better, but then, how maintainable is that lower weight, and so on. You're a running machine, I'm sure you'll shatter 1,000 miles and then some this year.

    emoticon emoticon
    1851 days ago
    Great post and positive outlook. Thanks for sharing - it was fun and inspiring to read about someone doing so well and so much in a year. Maintenance - what a concept! Congratulations.
    1851 days ago
    Happy emoticon ! Sounds like you have had a successful year and have a lot to be proud of! You are also setting a great example for your cheering squad by staying active and involving them when possible. Congrats!
    1851 days ago
  • DARLY55
    Happy Spark Anniversary! This place IS the best! I'm glad you have had a great experience here, as far as I know - we all feel the same!
    Continued success and have a great move! emoticon
    1851 days ago
  • TANYA602
    It's always so amazing to me how some of us fell upon SP and then stick with it and see the results of our continued hard work. You've had a terrific year, and your move is the next big step - how cool that you have two cheering sections through these decisions! Go with the flow and don't get caught up in the stress. You're doing the right thing and only positives can come from it.
    1851 days ago
    Congrats on a very successful year on all counts.....and good luck with the move!
    1851 days ago
    No matter what rung of the good health ladder you start on, SparkPeople offers the resources and community support to help you reach your goal.
    1851 days ago
    Great to hear about your major successes. Makes me think I may actually reach my own goal, and be able to stay there. I'm glad the Spark system has helped you along, and I feel it's helping me in a similar way.

    Great going. Take a bow!
    1851 days ago
  • JESSIKA_56
    Congratulations on all of your progress! Cute pic and funny comic. :)
    1851 days ago
    Happy emoticon ! Glad you're getting such a positive experience out of it!
    1851 days ago
    What a Fantastic Year! Happy emoticon Anniversary! emoticon
    I agree...::SP def has the fav fitness/nutrition tool so far.
    It really does make a difference when you get involved a bit here at SP and make friends. Somehow it is reassuring that you are not alone.
    Wishing you the emoticon with all that the future holds for you and your family. Glad to see you will continue to be active esp through the new challenges that face you. We will be here for you then too.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon Laura

    1851 days ago
  • CARI2012
    Happy SparkVersary! You're doing great! Good luck with your new job, new house, new school! emoticon
    1851 days ago
    Superb blog and recap of your year. Congrats on your many successes, and I look forward to reading about many more. Best wishes with your move and career change. P.S. You have the best fan club ever!!

    1851 days ago
  • ANDY_54
    Woo-hoo! Great job! And congrats on the move to NY and the new job!
    1851 days ago
    What a great year!!
    1851 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.