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It Takes a SparkVillage

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Disclaimer: The video has nothing to do with anything. It was just a silly little thing I made for my Creative Journal entry the other day and I thought you might get a kick out of it. The box IS from Bowflex, so I guess you could say it's fitness-related?? :)

Now, back to Sparky stuff--
Have you ever tried losing weight ninja-style? You know, all alone, totally under the radar, off the grid, not telling anyone? I have. It didn’t work for me. Guess what happens when you don’t share your journey? Nobody knows when you fail. Guess what else happens? Nobody knows when you succeed, or when you need help, or when you’re extra amazing and awesome. Nobody knows. How can your friends high-five or woohoo you, if they don’t know what you’re trying to do?

When I first started SparkPeople, I quietly sat on the sidelines. Yes, I know that may be hard to believe, that I could ever sit quietly. I assure you, it is possible, in small doses. I read blogs and was inspired by some amazing Sparkers, but I was just kind of milling around. Then, I started friending people. I SparkStalked people and friended them, if they seemed positive and inspiring. I knew I needed to surround myself with motivational peeps. And I started leaving comments on their pages and blogs. SparkStalker. I’m not ashamed.

Then, I joined some teams and started making connections there. The team that was most instrumental in jumpstarting my SparkJourney was the 5% Challenge Team. I still have no idea how KALISWALKER got my name, to send me the invite. Maybe someone I SparkStalked said, “Listen, this woman needs help. You gotta invite her!” At any rate, it looked like the perfect team/challenge for me. The whole challenge is set up like a game. There’s a big, umbrella team, that’s broken into smaller, individual teams. We all “race” around the world, with our exercise minutes being air miles for the team. Bonus points for the teams that land first and extra points for side challenges that help us with our healthy lifestyle habits. I loved the challenge. It’s what started my exercise streak, because I wanted to post minutes for my team every day. And teams were small enough that I was able to get to know the members. Some of us have been on the team together for nine challenges (it goes in seasons). I feel like I really know some of these people! I even met a team buddy in person, when I traveled to Oklahoma this past fall. It was like getting together with an old friend.

Which brings me to my next observation. In this world of creepy things that can happen online, isn’t it nice when “virtual” friends end up becoming “real” friends? I have some SparkBuddies I talk to all the time. We text, email, video chat, send each other cards and stuff in the mail. In short, we’re real friends, who just happen not to live in the same town. This is not something I expected when I joined SparkPeople. I was just looking for ways to lose weight. I didn’t expect to find a community that would make losing the weight fun. I didn’t expect to “meet” a whole new group of people who would cheer me on, inspire me, hold me accountable, etc. I didn’t expect to make friends, to the point of me knowing their kids’ names and jumping up and down when they post pics of their first 5K. I didn’t expect that. And sharing my journey here, made me brave enough to share with my in-person friends on Facebook, at church, in the neighborhood and stuff. Makes all the difference in the world when people you “do life” with can be part of this journey too.

Community seems to be the hardest thing to explain to non-Sparkers, this idea of a positive, supportive, online community, dedicated to helping others pursue a healthy lifestyle. I try to explain it and I know I come off sounding like I’m drinking somebody’s Kool-Aid. And maybe I am. But golly, it sure does work. I don’t know what it takes for most people to lose weight and get healthy, but for me, as cheesy as it sounds--it takes a SparkVillage. I really, really, REALLY appreciate y’all!!!!

Speaking of buddies, one of my SparkBuddies knows I’m a huge fan of Dr. Who and sent me this custom-made Dr. Whoop for my birthday/2 year streaksversary/etc. THANK YOU, JODI!!!!!

hOOp love :)

The 5% Summer Challenge is getting ready to start. If anybody’s interested, here’s a link, so you can check it out. Go Awesome A Team!!
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