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A Journey from Obesity to Lean and Healthy - (2013 in Review)

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

This month marks the one year anniversary of my return to Spark People and a commitment to do it right this time. I reached final goal this month and have transitioned to maintenance, so I wanted to recap the year’s progress. Anyone can do this, so I hope that maybe my story will encourage someone who is still thinking about doing it (as I was for 5 years previously).

Here’s what SP helped me do in 2013 (by the numbers):

Weight: 193 lbs to 120 lbs – shed 73 lbs (38%) !
BMI: 31.2 (obese) to 19.4 (healthy) !
Body Fat: 39.3% to 19.3% - cut in half !
Chest: (8.0 in)
Waist: (13.5 in)
Hips: (9.5 in)
Thigh: (5.0 in)
Neck: (1.75 in)
Arm: (3.5 in)
Total lost: (41) inches !!

In 2013 I've logged over 3,000,000 steps and 1500 miles according to my Fitbit (which I love).

I’ve gone from a size 16 pants to size 4 and from XL tops to medium or small. My shoes fit once again (who knew your feet get fat too, LOL!). My rings and watches had to be sized down (twice during the year!)

But the best things aren’t really shown in the “numbers”, and honestly I saw many of these well before I got to final goal. Seeing how just a bit of progress improved my life was so important to keeping me motivated and determined to stay on track throughout the year. Here are some of the simple things that last year were impossible for me and that I now rejoice in:
• I can run and play with my grandsons (they get tired before I do!)
• Last year, I couldn’t walk a mile without being tired, with my feet hurting and wanting to rest. This year, I ran a 5K race in April (after only 4 months) and a 10K in December. In training I have done a half marathon distance, and have a 10 miler race scheduled for March 2014. I’m slower than a lot of people but I can finish and it feels good! I want to mention here that I’ve never run before in my life, and it was SP articles that gave me the idea and a dear Spark friend, (thanks GWINNER1), who convinced me that yes, at 49 years old and 190 pounds, I could start!
• I now regularly find that I’ve walked 10 or 15 miles in a day without even realizing it!
• On vacations in the mountains, I can hike any trail up or down, and any distance I want. I’m limited only by how much food and water I can carry and the daylight…woo hoo!
• I can go up 5 flights of stairs in my office (without stopping twice or more to rest), and can actually breathe normally when I get to the top!
• I spend a lot less money on food, and actually eat a lot more than I did before I learned how to change my diet.
• I don’t have to find excuses to not do the things I really want to just because I’m afraid I just can’t do them. I can walk any distance, and can go all day.
• I feel strong and confident in myself.
• I can do anything now!!

I’ve often been asked in the last 6 months by friends and co-workers “how did you do it”? The bottom line is that it is simple, but not easy. I started with a commitment and some small goals (that weren’t easy in the beginning) and kept adding new ones while learning how to make adjustments to my lifestyle to fit them all in. The SP plan gave me all the tools and information I needed both to start and to continue to progress along the path.

So, here’s the big secret of how to do it:
All I did was make a decision that I wanted to start improving my diet and fitness. That’s it! I made tracking an absolute priority and set goals and schedules for myself that I could reach most of the time, adjusting them from time to time as I progressed. I’m not always at goal, but I always am honest about what I did manage to do. The quick start goals were a help in the beginning (drink water, get enough sleep, eat freggies, and track, track, track. The 5% challenges were a big part of keeping me accountable for meeting my goals during 2013, and I think they are an excellent way to learn to incorporate new healthy habits into your lifestyle.

I have tracked all my food every day without fail for the entire year. (This is the ONE thing I made non-negotiable for myself). In the beginning the goal was to find ways to stay in the SP recommended calorie range, and it wasn’t easy, nor did I manage it every day until I learned to make adjustments. Later I worked to also be in range for carbs, fat, protein and fiber. With all in balance, I find that everything works better. I had to figure out how to do it and still have the things I really wanted (ice cream most nights, etc.) and how to manage it while traveling for business (not easy but with some planning and creativity it CAN be done so no more excuses).

For fitness, I started tracking steps and other activities and set schedules and goals as I progressed. My step goal in January was 5,000 per day and I didn’t make it every day. Now it’s 10,000 per day and there are still days I’m short, but having a goal and working to get there each day is important. If you do it perfectly every day, it’s time to move it up! For me it was important to incorporate exercises that I can so at home, take when I travel and do anywhere (hotel rooms, a guest room when visiting, etc.) I used Zumba DVD’s and SP videos in the beginning along with walking and later on added running and a more comprehensive ST program that is nearly equipment free. You don’t need a gym membership or expensive machines to get and stay fit, there are lots of options available at little or no cost!

So, what’s next? My 2014 will be all about maintenance and enjoying life. I’ll keep tracking (it’s now a habit anyway) and stay in my new maintenance nutrition ranges. I have 2 races scheduled so far for 2014. I’ll stay active with the 5% challenges as a maintainer and will continue as the challenge leader of the Awesome A team, at least for the upcoming Winter challenge. I've changed my lifestyle and will never go back to where I was!

emoticon So, do you want to get healthier, lose weight, and be able to do what you want in life? A great quote from Coach Nancy says “Don't waste your time with ‘could've’, ‘would've’ or ‘should've’. Focus on ‘can,’ ‘will,’ and ‘do.’”

What are you waiting for?! SP gives you all the tools you need and 2014 can be your year! emoticon
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