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Once a sparker, always a sparker!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'm still here.

In my own little corner of sparkworld, watching quietly over my precious sparkfriends, being inspired by them and trying not to forget all the wonderful things this virtual community has taught me.

This year has been difficult so far. Or maybe I should say challenging. Because I believe in the great power of positive words. It's been a year of change, of tiredness, but thankfully the good kind, the one that comes from wanted and anticipated house renovations. A year of new adventures as we slowly enter the unexplored world of parenting teenagers. Scary but fun!

But it's also been a year of disease. Of deteriorating illnesses. Of death in the family. Which always finds you unprepared, no matter how much you've tried to come to terms with the reality of terminal cancer. A year of tears. Lots of them.

But I'm still here.

And now that everyday life seems to have gotten off the rollercoaster (hopefully!), and is finally willing to let us take a deep breath for a change, it's time to assess the damage. Not the emotional one. That would be a little hard to do, and those of you who know me well, have definitely realized how much of an introvert I can be. So, I'll just evaluate the other kind of damage. The "sparking" type. The damage to my healthy habits.

Of one thing I'm definitely guilty. Emotional eating. (Ok, you probably now get an idea of the emotional damage, as well.) I turned to food for comfort. Many times. And yes, I gained a few pounds. But that's as far as the damage gets.

I know what you're thinking.
"Isn't that the damage you would most want to avoid?"
"Isn't that catastrophic enough?"

Well, that was my first reaction, too. And I guess everybody feels like that when the scale becomes mean and the weigh-in turns into a source of sighs. But then I said to myself: Think again!

Think about all the things you DIDN'T do.

- I didn't go back to eating junk food and snacking on unhealthy foods. Even though free time, money and mood were not adequate for cooking, I tried hard to keep on making healthy, clean eating meals for me and my family. Even my binges were done on baked goods that I made in my kitchen. No store-bought candies and chips!

- I didn't give in to food delivery. At least I didn't make a habit out of it. Occasionally it happened - on the days my house just didn't have a kitchen! - but it was the exception and I didn't allow it to become a newly-established rule. And even on the days we ordered food, I always chose the least unhealthy option on the menu.

- I didn't quit exercise. I had a couple of big breaks when the going had got really tough, but even then I would soon realize that my body and my mind needed the workout.

And last but not least…

- I'm still here.

I often looked at my friend feed, trying to find motivation at my friends' updates. I often read blogs and found inspiration in your day-to-day battles, struggles and wins. Because I'm a sparker. And that means a lot.

I learned all those things here.
I changed my life one step at a time in this amazing community.
I was taught how to care about my health, how to take care of my body and mind through stories of other people and through the sharing of my own experiences.
I created a new version of myself using the resources on this site.
I fell a thousand times and always found another sparker's hand to grab and get back up again.
I adopted the mindset that sparkpeople was created on. Small changes that can last for a lifetime!

I am privileged to be a real sparker. And once a sparker, always a sparker!

Some of you may think I'm trying to sugarcoat the weight gain and pretend that it doesn't bother me. But that's not the case here. I had originally lost 42 pounds and I regained 12. I wish I hadn't. Of course I do. But beating myself up for it is not going to help me shed them. Relaxing, slowly helping myself out of the emotional eating maze and effectively fighting my way back to my old self, that's what is going to do the work! And it's already doing so. 4 pounds are already gone, 8 more to go. And they will. In time. I'm patient.

If you've been here long, you are a sparker, too. Believe it! You have all the tools you need to make your goals a reality. And if you haven't had any success yet, it's because you haven't put the pieces of your own puzzle together. But you can! And with patience, you will!
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Spark on, sparkers!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Congratulations on keeping up with healthy habits even through all that upheaval. I've told a few people that my only real secret to weight loss (and now maintenance) is DON'T GIVE UP. You've embodied that, and have made real use of the tools available to us here - hooray!
    1042 days ago
    You minimized the damage during a tough time and jumped back. That's the way to go! Hang in there; time puts everything in its proper perspective.
    1105 days ago
    emoticon on reversing the trend when you did!

    Now you know that you have created some emoticon habits that help to keep you within spitting distance when times get rough.

    Keep on Sparking! emoticon
    1128 days ago
  • GABY1948
    Somehow I missed congratulating you! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1133 days ago
    Yes keep coming back it works!
    1136 days ago
    Thanks for sharing!
    1137 days ago
  • POPSY190
    Your "I'm still here" resonated with me! This blog came along at just the right moment. Thank you, Elle.
    1138 days ago
    emoticon to you! Despite your "rough" year, you are holding your own! That is the sparkspirit. You've come a long way! Although, you've faced adversity you have stayed focused. Keep it up!! emoticon
    1138 days ago
    emoticon Thanks for sharing and you're RIGHT ON!!!! emoticon
    1139 days ago

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    1139 days ago
  • BECCA315
    emoticon emoticon Thanks for sharing...
    1139 days ago
  • _LINDA
    emoticon m emoticon
    You did an amazing job despite your trials! And here you are, already back losing those unwanted regain pounds. Just a blip in the scale of life which you have gotten a handle on. An inspiration to all!
    Spark on!
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    1139 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    What a great blog and what a great title! I loved your blog. We will fall and we will stumble, that is life, but it is about knowing how to pick ourselves up and get back on track. You are so right, once a sparker, always a sparker! I so totally agree with you that there is always a hand to cling to and help for the asking whenever someone is down. The journey is never over and I am so glad to be on the journey with awesome people like you!
    Congrats on being featured blog! Great job! emoticon emoticon
    1140 days ago
    Good for you! Yes, we can and you will!!
    1140 days ago
    Yes, you're still here! Love how you captured why being a Spark person is so valuable in our lives. I am so sorry about your loss and that you are going through a difficult year. I am so proud of you that you are trying to stay as healthy as possible.


    1140 days ago
  • LYNCHD05
    This is calls life and we are the only ones that conteol our corner of it. My ou very obviously know exactly where you are going and how it will,happen. I love this very honest blog that could be all of us. Way To Go!!!
    1140 days ago
    Absolutely a great blog to read and become inspired by! emoticon was my first thought! What you have accomplished this year would be awesome for someone without the challenges you have endured, but to come through it with a sparkling attitude makes it all even more impressive. Best to you! emoticon emoticon emoticon and emoticon
    1140 days ago
    HUGS!! Elle, I wish for you that this next year will be easier.
    I know that while I still sometimes slip up, it is NOTHING like it USED to be! You are CORRECT to center on seeing what you did RIGHT! emoticon emoticon
    1140 days ago
    Your blog really spoke to me. It is like I wrote it. emoticon
    1140 days ago
    Great Blog
    1140 days ago
  • THOMS1
    Your blog speaks to me. I have been a sparker for 7 years now and I have had my ups and downs but I keep on sparking. I don't think I have missed a day where I didn't log in and track my nutrition and my exercise. So like you said once a sparker always a sparker. I wish you more success and much better year emotionally as well as physically emoticon .
    1140 days ago
    Great blog, Elle! I am sorry about the tough times you've been through but you are a winner & you have proved it! Thanks so much for sharing & reminding us all that even though we may not realize it, others are looking to us for inspiration & motivation!
    1140 days ago
    emoticon That was an awesome blog. I love your quote "Once a Sparker always a Sparker!" It does take persistence and determination. I too have lost 37 pounds and stayed within 3% of that "goal" wt. for going on 6 months now. I felt like quitting several times in the six months, but I have perseverance and determination. I am choosing healthy snacks instead of that bag of m&ms or Reece's cups. I am walking and exercising, but not as determined as I was in the past. Spark does teach you the how, what, where, and when of losing weight and maintaining.

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    emoticon Nola
    1140 days ago
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    1140 days ago
    1140 days ago
    emoticon You should be proud of yourself! Despite the challenges you have faced, you have stuck it out, and instead of looking at as you gained 12 lbs, look at it as yes I had a slight set back, but I can do this! You have to look at the success you have, and that everyone has good days and bad days, and the point is your not giving up! You will make it through this journey and we are here for you! God bless you and have a wonderful day! emoticon emoticon
    1140 days ago
    I Iove this blog so much! And I love SparkPeople. I've had a rough year, too, and this place has always been a comfort zone for me. Love your outlook and the way it was written.
    1140 days ago
    Your blog reveals so much about you. Your persistence, your courage and your knowledge that a number on the scale is not what Spark is all about.

    I'm sorry you have lost someone dear to you and trust you will use the tools you learned with Spark to take care of yourself now. Grief is a long journey and I hope most of all you are patient with you over the next many months.

    Thanks so much for sharing this terrific blog.

    1140 days ago
    Thank you so very much for being a role model on handling a really tough emotional year. When my challenges come, I hope - no, I plan - to do as well, and come out the other side still a warrior fighting the good fight.

    Small changes, that we make for a lifetime. How powerful! We can do it. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Wishing you much better times ahead. High regards, Marsha
    1140 days ago
    What a super blog. I'm so sorry that you have had a tough year. And your responses to it show that you are indeed a seasoned sparker.

    You had a moderate weight gain in response to an overwhelming emotional deluge: it could have been so much worse. And you're responded to it with moderation, in a sustainable way. With results already evident.

    Good for you. Here's hoping that life gets better moving forward.
    1140 days ago
    I'm SO sorry about your tough year and the death in your family. It is NEVER a good time to loose someone to death. even a gentle death of my 91 year old mother was too hard and too soon and so many of my friends lost a loved one this year that it is no surprise to me that we've all had weight gains.

    we just have had to shrug, shake it off, start those baby steps again. We will make it through this tough time and by gum - find the sunshine on the other side.
    1140 days ago
    emoticon What a wonderful blog - I'm so glad I saw it! I know EXACTLY what you mean by saying this: "Isn't that the damage you would most want to avoid?" ISN'T true - the 12 pounds are insignificant next to the knowledge you USED and will use to rid yourself of those pounds! I dare say most of us have been where you are, more or less, on this journey. Together we will win this battle AND this war!! Hugs!!
    1140 days ago
    wonderful - you captured the essence of sparking! so many words of wisdom here. i especially love "I fell a thousand times and always found another sparker's hand to grab and get back up again." emoticon

    1140 days ago
    LOVE this!

    Because we all aren't perfect all the time, because we all do what we can to stay healthy while dealing with life's ups and downs, and because we're all here to keep ourselves as on track as we can!!!!
    1140 days ago
  • DSJB9999
    emoticon emoticon blog.

    hugs to you too xxx
    1140 days ago
    Once a sparker....always a sparker. Amen!!!! And thanks for always reaching out to those Sparkfriends in need ( last night lol) and giving encouraging words of support! Hugs and big smiles!!!
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    1145 days ago
    I love what you've said here. I'm in the same boat as you...I did so well, then life happened and I got a bit off-track. I've gained some weight back but it is not the end of the world.

    This is a journey, and we are all learning a new way of life. That journey will have ups and downs, but as long as we keep going we'll get to the destination.

    Thanks for a great blog post.
    1149 days ago
    What a wonderful and realistic reflection you've written. Thank you so much for sharing! You are indeed still her, for which I am very grateful! Your will, honesty, and compassion inspire me.
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    1151 days ago
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    1151 days ago
    So glad to get your update, and agree wholeheartedly about being a Sparker!
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    1152 days ago
  • KIMBERLY0916
    brilliant! definitely best results happen when you do what works healthiest for you! you're doing a GREAT job!

    i like that "least unhealthy option" ... it's a terrific perspective. so many times people try to choose healthiest or even just healthy while restricting so called bad or unhealthy foods ... then they feel guilty if they eat some of that ... well maybe your body really craved it .. or it was the only thing available .. or you were weak in that moment .. whatever the reason people dump truckload of guilt onto it .. which triggers WORSE EMOTIONAL eating. so i APPLAUD YOU! ... being healthy doesn't need to mean yes/no .. life is about balance and adapting to surroundings ..

    there is healthy (P)
    there is unhealthy (S)

    there is a MIDDLE GROUND

    find what works best for you that's closest to that middle ground

    VENN diagrams are *difficult* in ASCII
    1152 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/20/2015 3:06:58 PM
    Fantastic blog! We can all relate! I'm proud to be a sparker too.
    1152 days ago
    Awesome!!!! (Your blog, your writing, and your attitude)
    1152 days ago
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    1152 days ago
    I hope this becomes a featured blog because it is EXCELLENT. Your words are absolutely perfect & I love, love, love the fact that you're not beating yourself up about a bit of weight gain. You've been going through a lot and still chose healthier options. That is huge!!! And being kind to yourself and realizing that you can get the weight back off is key to being successful. Wow. Beautifully written. I'm so glad you shared this today!
    1152 days ago
  • THOMS1
    Great Blog!
    1152 days ago
  • KANOE10
    What a wonderful blog. You have captured why being a Spark person is so valuable in our lives. I am so sorry about your loss and going through such a difficult year. Yet despite all of the stress, you tried to stay as healthy as possible and still exercised..and still looked for healthy foods. That is great that you are now ready to work on those up pounds and have lost 4 pounds. I love, " you have all of the tools to make your goal a reality." That is the truth. I also like " I have created a new version of myself using the resources on this site." That is how I feel as well. Hugs to you my friend. I know you will continue on to reach your goal and love having you here on Spark.
    1152 days ago
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