A Goodbye to SP, Permanent or Semi-Permanent

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

As mentioned in my feed and on my Spark Page, I'm going on a permanent (or semi-permanent if I randomly decide to return) hiatus from SparkPeople. I'm not deleting my page or removing teams or friends, just in case I do return for any reason, but I've found I don't use any of the tools any more.

SparkPeople served the basic purpose I needed at the time I started, which originally was just food tracking and adding a bit of walking, with a goal of ending a decade or so of deliberately gaining weight to hide, to be invisible. I started at 250.5 pounds and over the course of 16 to 18 months lost up to 80, my all-time low in probably 15 years was 166.5 pounds.

Unfortunately, as I got down to that point, I was losing balance. Instead of excesses in food, I had traded in excesses in exercise and an obsessiveness on weight loss. I would follow the daily range recommended, plus a little, only to end up seriously hungry and eating more for a day or two.

I'd never been a yo-yo dieter in the past or dealt with anything along the line of binges, and here I was actually close to my general goal ... only to be losing touch with lifestyle and obsessing with weight loss. I was eating and exercising in ways that were beginning to look unhealthy and nonsustainable.

I would buy a jar of peanut butter for sandwiches, and it would be gone in two days. I tracked it all, but was mad at myself for even getting INTO that kind of behavior pattern. At one point in there, I would buy candy bars, not the little one or two serving size, but the massive ones "because it costs less for the large ones" then eating it over the course a day or two.

I had gone from 15 minute walks of less than a mile in September 2011 to some days walking from a train to work (12 minutes), a longer route in the evening (29 minutes), doing an hour of cardio at the gym, then walking home from the gym (25 minutes). I wasn't just doing it on days I wanted to walk. I was doing it to build up my numbers - more minutes of activity, more calories burned. Those had become the entire reason I was walking so much. I also got to where I would eat a huge candy bar, but convince myself it was okay because lo, and behold, if I could eat less of everything else and exercise enough, I could make the Calories In Calories Out say I had a deficit.

What woke me out of that was making a shift in how I handle my finances. I'm much more in control of long-term predictable expenses now and even building up for the (*scowl*) required medical coverage or penalties for failure to be forced to be an insurance company's source of profit. (*avoids ranting by a hair*) I now have a separate account into which I set aside weekly portions toward expenses, then pay those when due. I've wanted to escape my "paycheck to paycheck" mentality for a long time, and this was the big step.

The more carefully I tracked and managed and arranged, the less I could put up with being careless with my health. I couldn't continue down that path, but realized that SP's tools and information didn't provide what I needed. Too often even here on SP the message of a lifestyle change gets diluted. (The new book might be about making a long-term change, but what is the big selling point? It's a "complete two week diet program".)

I stopped and actually looked at the Start Page.

emoticon What's the important number when we enter our food? Calories. Sure, we can track other nutrients, but Calories is the big number that shows up on the Start Page. (It can't even tell us how many fruits and veggies we had ...)

emoticon emoticon What's the important number when we enter our activity? Again, minutes and miles and steps show up, but Calories is the big number on the Start Page.

emoticon There it was every day -- nutrition (Calories), activity (Calories) and weight.

I finally managed to stabilize my thinking back to food as nutrition and activity for health. During the transitions I made, I did regain some weight - notably because I adjusted my activity down (from over 7000 calories burned a week to almost half that) without reducing my eating.

Oh, and "awful confession" time. Because at some point in I think March I said something about setting 180 as my cap while I transitioned, there was a point that I passed it ... and stopped reporting my weight honestly on SP or in my publicly available spreadsheet. (I've corrected the spreadsheet.) I kept track of the real weight in two places that were just for me, where I could make genuine decisions from the information, but didn't want to deal with anyone offering help or support, so I kept it away from others. At the very most, it was 10 pounds off from the real weight. Until a couple days ago, it was coming closer together. Yesterday's weight is real, as is today's - which will be the last I post.

I'll end with a general summary

Where I am as of today, 16 July 2013

emoticon WORKOUT emoticon

I have a workout routine I enjoy. I can skip an occasional day as needed. I don't "count calories". (To generally keep track, I record them as 800 for days I do an hour of cardio, 400 for days I do weight training, 200 for days I walk briskly for an hour, and 0 if I skip. Those give me a very quick comparison of activity day to day by which I can adjust food or understand broader weight shifts.

I have made my primary workout motivation a desire to not lose any progress. While I'm very careful not to overtrain (one reason I do allow myself to skip when I feel physically not up to it), I hate missing a couple days and then feeling like my normal challenge level has become much harder to accomplish. If I'm using resistance level 9 as my starting point and suddenly I'm dropping that to 7 because I slacked off for a week, dang right I'm back in there building back up to 9 and aiming for 10 with a renewed determination.

When I do cardio, I am mostly concerned with how my heart is beating, how my lungs are handling the oxygen demands, and how my joints and body in general are taking the activity. That's it. As long as my heart is beating within the basic range needed, the calories take care of themselves. As long as I throw in alternate activities such as ice-skating or a long trail walk, and making little challenges to go faster, push harder, so I'm never stagnating, my fitness improves.

emoticon NUTRITION emoticon

For a while there I had to just close my mind to the calories in. As I said, I did regain some (I was almost up to 190 and am back down to 184-185). It took weeks to settle into what I wanted my routine workouts to be week to week. I even dropped tracking at all for a few weeks (March-April period). Once I got back to it, my main concerns were keeping sodium sensible and protein well-provided. Every other number could be ignored as long as it wasn't an extreme need or dangerous excess.

What I learned and mentioned in another blog is that my metabolism is most definitely fast. I kind of knew that, but with holding a deficit, I didn't ever get a clear idea of how much faster.

With my height 5'7.75" and weight at 187, a workout routine that means approximately 4000 calories burned a week or less, the BMR calculation says I should be eating around 2470 calories to maintain. In the month of May I found I was eating an average of 3440 a day but mostly bouncing up and down, gaining a pound or two at most. That's right ... with what SP and BMR Calculators would consider a 1000 calorie surplus daily, I was burning most of it naturally.

I'm pulling that down very gradually with minor adjustments -- primarily things that when I look at I scratch my head and wonder why. Two sticks of string cheese at a time instead of one? When did that slip in? A triple serving of granola in a big bowl instead of one and a half in a smaller bowl? If I'm that hungry, I'm making eggs and boosting my protein intake.

emoticon TRACKING emoticon

I love spreadsheets, and use GoogleDocs a lot.

One spreadsheet I use to log what I eat - having added very simple information over three months. It only calculates calories and protein, based on the quantities. When I get home in the evening, I fill it into my recipe software and get all the nutrition data, clearing the log spreadsheet for a new day. It's a very fast, sometimes a tiny bit off, look at where I am through the day, easily accessible and usable on my phone in a way SP's mobile app just never managed to be.

Another spreadsheet is the Fitness log I have had linked in my signature:

It is based on a spreadsheet I'd seen 4A-HEALTHY-BMI link to with her own tracking, a few tinkers to my information and what I wanted to see.

I have a second similar one that only has the more basic information and then three columns for brief journal-like notes about the day. Those let me note why I skip a day at the gym or that I ate out with DDa, so I don't just have a number but a reason.

emoticon APPEARANCE / CLOTHING emoticon

I haven't quite outgrown any of the new clothes, but I'm at that too-snug, she should really wear the next size up point. Thankfully, I'm on the way down so the next problem will be when I hit the "whoops, these got too stretched out and need replacing" point.

I've noticed I'm less and less happy with the excess weight around my middle. I've got all this great muscle underneath - not just the middle, but arms, buttocks, calves - and it's squishy and padded. That, and the body fat % number on my scale, have been bugging me.

I don't usually like to think with appearance, because the usual point is what others think of it. But I'm finally at a point where it is my OWN attention to it that matters. That is hugely important. I want to look better for me. It's like the difference between eating for nutrition and eating for the number of calories in the way my mind approaches things.

I'm dressing up more, taking care of my hair and skin more. I'm not going girly, but dang did I buy myself some sexy heels that I wore to a July 4th BBQ and love the feel of walking in them. There's other little things, but when I am dressing and seeing these cute or sexy clothes, I want to make my body more fit rather than continue to half-abuse it just because I'm not "obese", I'm just "overweight".

All of that, and I don't give a fig when someone external to me comments because I know I'm doing it to please myself alone.

emoticon SOCIAL emoticon

I think this is where I've finally had to decide I'm fully on hiatus from SP. For a long time I wasn't as happy with the tools, but they did the job, and they came with an absolutely incredible community. I loved supporting others, whether it was little surprise SparkGoodies or comments on blogs, pages, or pictures, or responses to threads. But that gets time-consuming (any forum or website does) and once I lost the other reasons for being here by replacingthe tools ... I faded away.

I've been broadening my social activities locally, adding a couple of groups I meet up with, as well as writing a lot more in various pieces of fiction. I have a novel to get back to writing so I can revise it (at 55,000 words now).

All adding up to ... for all that I really care about quite a few people here, that alone isn't enough reason to log in. (And it feels terrible to say, but if the only reason for caring was the shared need to eat healthier and be more active, there's not as much there as building a potential friendship with a wider variety of shared interests. I need to connect more directly with people, something I've avoided for many many years. Online friendships are so much easier to disconnect. It's time to actually get to know people locally more than "Oh, I see you at the gym."


This OUTLAW is riding off into the sunset.

May you all find your own paths and enjoy as much of your life journey as you can!

You will be missed, but in one corner of my mind I will always remember good times and good online friends!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MISSB8604
    I wish you the best!
    2692 days ago
    Good Luck, I hop all is well. am back to lose some weight, it has been an emotional stressful year.
    2729 days ago
    Just returned after a year off Spark...awesome times spent with family and new "real-life" friends..Now balancing life and Spark...totally understand where you're coming from...Spark features can be addictive. Will miss you..wishing you all the best!
    Lady J
    2826 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12747410
    I am glad you are finding your path-may you be well & happy~ emoticon
    2834 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13297934
    Bye Blue. We were on the same team, BLC20, and you were helpful! I always wanted to chat with you about religion (I think we both had the same one for a while, JW) and about writing. If you do ever come back, I'd love it if you look me up. I hope you have a great journey!

    2846 days ago
  • OTEN36
    wow...great blog
    I find myself in the same spot you made mention of several times.
    But after regaining some weight and yes, like you not liking how it feels having those new clothes get too tight to wear...but I'm going to stay on SP but with a new attitude and not so much craziness if I gain a half pound. I really did put myself thru too much pressure. I'm going to take it slower this time.
    Thanks for sharing and good luck.

    2850 days ago
    Good luck Jennifer!
    2861 days ago
    good luck
    2863 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2895 days ago
  • JULIA1154
    I will very much miss your thoughtful, insightful posts. Nonetheless, I thoroughly understand and applaud your decision. I think it represents a certain level of maturity to be able to identify what you need to do at this time in your life and then execute those steps. Living virtually is not living, when it comes right down to it, is it?

    Congratulations on your self-knowledge, on getting your finances in order and on moving on with what's important to you. I wish you all the best. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.
    2896 days ago
  • _JODI404
    This is a really great blog, and I appreciate that you took the time to explain so much.

    You will most definitely be missed! You are an *awesome* writer, and your blogs were extremely insightful and thought provoking. I always enjoyed reading whatever you shared here.

    It sounds like you have got a good handle and plan for the various aspects of managing your lifestyle.

    I wish you the very best in all of your endeavors.... work, health, social, writing, financial, fitness....

    I'm glad you're keeping your page up. It would be wonderful to hear from you once in a blue moon emoticon to know how you are doing. We'll see.... you may be gone for good. Whatever you decide, I am confident it will be what is best for you -- and that is what really matters.

    You were definitely a motivator and source of great inspiration while you were active here. Thank you for all that gave and shared!

    Best wishes Blue! emoticon

    2896 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13002992
    Good luck and much continued success!
    2897 days ago
    Good luck to you as you continue on your journey!!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2897 days ago

    Thank you for sharing emoticon
    2897 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13793073
    You'll be missed~ but in reality, we'll all have to move on, eventually. Our day will come. Can you imagine all of us still being here in 30 years LOL? I would be like...almost 100 hahaha. emoticon too~ but it is a fantasy world. If we look around us, the majority of people of healthy weight, are not obsessing, as far as I can tell. At least the people I know or are related to. They may "watch it" a bit food-wise, or make sure they get in some excercise~ everyone not living under a rock knows it's good for humans. But it seems to be more natural, and less obsessive, than we who gather here on this site. The old saying, "Less talking--more doing!" will apply for each of us, as we move on. There is no real reason to be discussing weight loss continuously day in and day out, except when we are embroiled in the process. So I, too, hope to move on at some point. For every thing, there is a season. God bless~have the courage to love in your new groups and relationships~ and wear those sexy high heels proudly, woman. You've been a beautiful work of love for us. emoticon emoticon already~ emoticon ~your friend, Sandi
    2898 days ago
    Best wishes! I've always enjoyed your common sense approach to all this and will miss reading your posts.
    2898 days ago
    Best wishes!
    2898 days ago
    Definitely will miss you and your blog posts. But all things must come to an end sooner or later. I wish you the best on your journey.
    2898 days ago
    All the best to you on your journey! xo
    2898 days ago
  • SANDYB223
    Will definitely miss you!! The best of all that life has to offer to you!!!


    2898 days ago
    2898 days ago
    I will miss you. You have been such an inspiration on my journey. I would stop by just to check out your latest progress picture. You were always amazing. Still are :)

    Keep in touch!
    2898 days ago
    All the best will miss your blogs
    2898 days ago
    I'll miss you, Pal -- one of my goals still is to take a walk with you some day! You know how to get in touch with me! xoxo, Deb
    2898 days ago
    emoticon Happy trails Blue. It was great hanging out with you at the campfire.
    2898 days ago
    Thanks for posting. I wish you luck. It's great knowing you can come back whenever you need support.
    2898 days ago
    You will be missed.... thanks for taking time to let us know your thoughts. It is very disconcerting to have an active Sparker just drop off the radar without a word. Appreciate the heads up and wishing you all the best in the future. Let us know when that book get published!

    2898 days ago
    May the wind be at Your back, and the sun and moon light Your way in all Your future endeavors.
    2898 days ago
    You wrote so much that I can relate to and can see how I might one day do the same. I am sad that I just now got to know you but all things happen for a reason. You have truly confirmed so much that I always have felt and thought. It is refreshing to know there are others out there who feel the same. Boy...the Spark community is losing a great one and I know your friends will miss you even more!

    I wish you the best! I am going to bookmark this blog as it will continue to be a reference point for me on so many levels.
    2898 days ago
  • KARL1266
    Well...where to begin.

    I wish you all the best. I know you have given this decision a lot of thought and are doing this for all the right reasons.

    I'll miss your always thought provoking blogs and your very insightful comments on mine. You always gave me something to think about and usually were one step ahead of me when it came time to blog about something. I would have an idea for a blog and when I get on I find you have covered the same topic. Kind of uncanny.

    Just know you will be missed by those of us with whom you have touched in some way. It may not always seem so from certain perspectives, but we all leave a mark in one form or another. I truly believe you have left a big one.

    Good luck and like I said, I wish you nothing but the best. You will always be welcome.

    Speaking purely from a selfish standpoint, I hope this is just a semi-retirement and not a permanent one. But you do what you need to do.

    Hope to see you around! I'll still be here.

    2898 days ago
    The life of someone with a weight problem is not easy...ask me, I KNOW! And, I also know that there is not one "silver bullet" for everyone. I love SparkPeople because I have found fellow maintainers who support me...

    I have been a yo-yo'er almost all my life and now at age 57 I'm determined to maintain b/c I don't believe I have another 50lb weight loss in me.

    I sincerely, sincerely wish you luck as you look for the support and path you need to achieve your goals.

    I'll be thinking about you....
    2898 days ago
    You have been an inspiration to me and many others and I am sad to see you go. But, I understand and respect the need to do what is best for you.

    Best of luck!
    2898 days ago
    emoticon Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Good luck in maintenance/toning up.
    2898 days ago
  • RAMONA1954
    Will miss you but totally understand your reasoning. You have to do what is best for you. Good luck with the book! Stop by and say hi sometime. May your life be filled with joy and love and all the good things life has to offer.
    2898 days ago
  • LIZZYP609
    you come right back to the campfire if you ever want a good spir in the butt about anything! It looks like you have everything under control (which I have known for a very long time now!)

    Good Luck Blue!
    2898 days ago
    May you have a wonderful life, Spark having served its purpose for you, and no longer serving you. YOU have made a decision. Live your life and enjoy every... last... minute... in balance and good health! emoticon
    2898 days ago
    I understand what you are saying... I found if you do EVERYTHING spark offers, you have NO live social life. It has taken me a while, but I think I found a balance. Use the pieces that help you and leave the rest alone. For example, It appeared to me that you took a humongous amount of time writing blogs.

    I think the thing I love the best is being able to write a simple status about whatever I want to people I know on line and not being judged! It helps so much because I can't do it or be so honest with "real" people i know. I also love that people I know on spark will pray for my son - and they don't really know me. I find great comfort in that.

    With that said, I respect your decision and hope you continue on your path to happiness. Thanks for your inspiration.
    2898 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/16/2013 9:10:23 PM
    Have fun out there in the big, scary world! Best of luck to you, kick a$$ and take names!
    2898 days ago
    great job! good luck! will miss your blogs! emoticon
    2898 days ago
  • 1EMMA2011
    Great job! I feel proud of you. Congrats! I will miss you!

    2898 days ago
    Sometimes it's good to take a break and concentrate on other things. You accomplished a lot and you can always come back if you wish. Wishing you the best.
    2898 days ago
    Thanks for all the inspiration!
    2898 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12068091
    Hope you do decide to sneak in on those rare occasions and say howdy. I truly understand how easy it is to get lost and over do. You have to find your way and follow it. emoticon
    2898 days ago
    I'll miss ya over here, and hope we can still keep in touch via Gmail!

    2898 days ago
    good luck! emoticon
    2898 days ago
    Best wishes and best of luck!
    2898 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10975016
    Good luck with everything!
    2898 days ago
    well it des sound like you on on top of your health, weight and finances, good for you, keep it up, and come by and say howdy once in awhile good luck
    2898 days ago
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