100,000-149,999 SparkPoints 146,921

Skill Set for Improvement

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


One of the most powerful forces in social psychology is "it takes one to know one". This can be stated in many different ways:

* Identification is the most powerful force in learning
* Role models show the way
* Existence proofs: "If X can do A, then I can too, because I'm the same as or better than) X."
* Competition: "I can outdo X"

Success Factors at SparkPeople

What I've noticed about many/most of the successful folks that have reached maintenance, and then been able to stay there for any length of time:

* Recognition why change is hard. And, if you're here (at SparkPeople) "you" have recognized, at least at some level, that you need to change.
* Change requires a program, and requires consistent, continuous effort to be effective.
* Purpose of measurement and recording ("tracking")
* Importance of empirical data
* Importance of (a) identifying a problem, (b) understanding a problem, (c) finding a solution through measurement and empiricism.
* When and how to get help.
* Setting up a feedback system that uses observation and measurement to modify program parameters both quantitatively and QUALITATIVELY to make sure that the program progresses through all stages of its evolution.

Many (most?) of the folks I've "seen" on SparkPeople do not have the skill set I've outlined above. Therefore, they cannot identify with these successful folks. Moreover, many of them are "dedicated" to avoiding these issues. Sometimes, the culprit, in these mis-efforts, is defense mechanisms, but most often it is a world view (including but not limited to religion, or other idealisms) that precludes the skills from being "entertained" much less learned.

I'm trying to figure out how to make this skill-set, or meta-program more attractive or "digestible" (excuse the expression emoticon) to more people.

Warning to Me -- If Not You! emoticon

And, I'm aware that my language -- especially -- in this particular post -- is often not helpful to this end. However, first, I must figure out the right concepts -- and that process necessarily requires me to use whatever conceptual tools I can muster. Moreover, I may never figure it out, or I may never be able to articulate it to enough people for the effort to be worthwhile. That means, that, best case, my posts, here, are a sandbox -- and of limited use to a limited group of folks. I get that.

Kudos to Angela Balda

Speaking of role models, and identification, I'd like to put in a plug for Angela Balda's blog posts. She's one of the team leaders of the "At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance Team".

What makes Angela's Balda's (4A-HEALTHY-BMI -- www.sparkpeople.c
) efforts in the Team and her blogs so important is (a) she concretely and articulately exemplifies the skill set, and (b) is making the transition from applying her powerful skill set from losing to maintaining.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Angela is one of the original RockStar of RockStars here among our SparkFamily...! Can't sing the praises of her inspiration and motivation far & wide enough! :-)

    Thank you for your super summary of "what works"...or at least what has proven to work for so many of us!

    1509 days ago
    You are so right. I found my way to drop 100lbs after I released my limiting beliefs, including faith that if I followed the traditional way of eating to lose weight, I would lose weight.

    And one great question that helped me immensely was, 'yeah. How is that working for me?'

    I found my own way to a method of weight loss that suited me.

    But I looked very hard at other Sparkers who were succeeding at getting rid of that weight and one thing I noticed was the prodigious amount of exercise points they were racking up. They had as many exercise points as Sparkpoints. So I racked up my exercise, too. When I started on Sparkpeople I could not figure out how people got to more than 1000 exercise minutes a month, but I know now!

    I don,t like to plan my menus but I've found a way to nearly do that, I prepare my food so I can throw together some kinda salad, stir fry, soup in five minutes flat - because I have learned to compromise and make trade offs (some vitamin loss from precut foods for the convenience of extra freggies in my diet).

    It really is true that weightloss happens in your head. And, if you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.

    1510 days ago
    All good info, some of us take longer together, for many reasons, it is very helpful to read these type of blogs for the constant reinforcement that they provide.

    1510 days ago
    I think you've hit upon some important truths here--and ones that can be difficult to confront. It can be heartbreaking to see someone who so badly wants to change, but can't/isn't willing to do what it takes to make those changes happen.

    My approach to managing my weight has definitely changed in many of the ways you've described here and it's made all the difference. It started with the acknowledgment that what I had done in the past hadn't worked and the development of a new plan, and continued with my willingness to both stick with it permanently and to make changes when something clearly wasn't working. It's hard work and I sometimes feel like it's onerous and a bit unfair, but this is what it takes for me to keep the weight off and not have to exclude certain types of food or exercise excessively. And that's where the support network here comes in. Just knowing that other people have similar troubles and are working through them is a big encouragement for me to keep going.
    1510 days ago
    Aww, thanks for the shout out!

    We can always use help with making this stuff more accessible on the At Goal and Maintaining & Transition to Maintenance Team!

    It's been a progression for me, for sure. I definitely didn't start out with my current skills. When I started re-losing the weight in 2007-2009 all I knew was that I ate too much, the reflux was helpful because it made me scared to eat, and that the only thing that had worked in the past was logging my food.

    For years I just couldn't face the prospect of logging my food. It seemed too onerous, I resented the idea because no one else around me seemed to need to do it, and I figured I couldn't do it long term because I'd burn out, so what was the point of trying?

    But eventually I did decide to try again. You can read a blow-by-blow account of my progression here:


    A lot of it felt like I was fumbling around in the dark, and there were a lot of false starts. And at the beginning I was thrilled to just get under 300 lbs. I had no idea I'd end up where I am now. No clue.

    I think the most important ingredient was my determination to throw all of my creativity, persistence, time, and will toward getting my weight off and keeping it off. It came down to a question of, "How badly do I want this?" And the answer had to be, "So badly I'll do almost ANYTHING to accomplish it," And I subscribed to the grim idea that it didn't matter at all how I FELT about exercising and tracking my food, that what mattered was that I DID it.

    Now I've come to an understanding that logging my food doesn't have to be as onerous as I once thought, and that if it will keep me at a size where I'm comfortable in my own skin, then it's worth the effort.

    And I motivate myself by staying active in the maintenance team, running challenges, curating the maintenance anniversary list, managing the Big Page of Links, identifying blog posts for Tina to highlight, doing whatever I can think of to try and help myself and others keep the weight off. It's the everyday accountability that keeps me going.

    I don't know whether you've seen my index of blog posts:

    It sounds like you might enjoy the ones I've put into the "strategies" category. Or maybe the ones specifically about maintenance.

    And if/when you've codified your thinking to the point that you have a method or a tool or a schema for helping people, Tina and I will be more than happy to help you promote and support it, in whatever way we can!

    1510 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/2/2014 7:15:58 AM
  • 1SALMON1
    Speculation: none of the folks (at Spark or WW or wherever) who are successful started out equally strong in all the skills you reference. Time and persistence may help us recognize an area where we are weak and focus on that - but that focus may throw us off track in a different area. I think about this a lot; what is it that trips a person over from not identifying with or recognizing the possibility of success, to thinking success is achievable? Once a person takes that step they can start building that skill set; but otherwise they (we!) flounder. I'll be interested in your thinking about this! Good Blog!!!
    1510 days ago
    I was thin until I was 46 and, though I didn't think about it much, I probably assumed for many of those years that most fat people were self-indulgent and lazy and some are. I didn't understand the complexities of obesity until I was forced to adress them as a nurse who was required to counsel the obese. At that time I found that there are so many variables to take into account. Some people succeed because they have to - life or death. I've also taken care of people that were not able to even choose life and they died from diet related complications. Losing weight is easy in theory, complex in administration. Some people succeed because it's easy for them to for whatever reason. I had to deal with people from all walks of life. The most challenging were the people with limited education, limited support, limited finances, limited resources, significant medical problems and challenges. I had some well-heeled people who just ordered Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem, joined a gym, and really did well. No cooking, no cleanup, but really expensive. The reason many people here don't succeed is because they need individual diet counseling to help them with their own unique set of challenges. I had people who had never eaten a real vegetable and were not eager to do so. People here are basically taking a college science course with limited instruction and some of the info here is poor. One size doesn't fit all. Some of the fortunate successful ones here stumbled upon the right plan for them. It doesn't mean it didn't take a lot of work. Some of them spent 20-40 years doing trial and error to get there. I tend to think in the future if the medical community actually wants all people to be successful dieting is going to have to be a lot more scientific, taking into consideration genetics, medical conditions, personal preferences, etc.
    1511 days ago
    I just find the minute I stray from those basics, I falter. You have to want this so bad you can TASTE it! And nothing tastes as good as healthy feels!
    1511 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.