REBECCATKD noted on my previous Sparkversary blog that the blog...wasn't really much of a blog. She said it much nicer than that, of course, but made the very legitimate point that it would be more interesting to read about what I've learned and experienced in ten years, and not so much about the number on the scale, which, if you read the previous blog, you will know is basically the same number on the scale when I selected a username 10 years ago.
When I started SP, I was a newlywed graduate student. I'd gone from a daily exercise habit while living off fried egg sandwiches, Triscuits and cheddar to moving in with my new husband, among whose many wonderful traits included a knack for cooking, and starting a rigorous academic exercise that completely consumed me, but not calories.
I'd gained about 10-15 pounds since my hotter co-ed days, and I was not happy about it. I don't remember what I thought when I joined, but I remember getting involved in a group for 20-somethings that eventually disappeared and writing a few very stupid blogs that no one read. I don't think I did a whole lot in the Community at first, but read articles and got my 3 SparkPoints for them.
Over time, I became more and more involved. I joined teams and made some friends. If something came up in my life, I'd look for a team for it. When my knees started hurting at 143 pounds, I joined the Knees Team. When I got my canine soulmate Sammy, I joined the Rescued Dog Lovers Team. When I wanted to lose some weight (and I mean, that was all the time), I joined the 5% Challenge. I never lost my 5%, and my weight continued its slow, gradual northward creep.
In 2012, I moved away, and I ballooned up another 15 pounds--which I know sounds really melodramatic, but I'm 4'10"! Most people can gain 15 pounds, and it's not great, but it's certainly not balloon-esque. On a sub-five-footer, 15 pounds takes you from narwhal to beluga real quick.
When I realized my grave error, I moved back in early 2015, and returned to my old life, pretty much exactly. Same house, same job, same neighbors, same gym...and eventually, same weight. That took some time, much more than the others who were more or less just waiting for me.
I'd been introduced to Reddit by my sister during this time, and I found a community there that dispelled all the things you hear about that complicates weight loss--starvation mode, set point, fad diets and cleanses, metabolism kickstarting, intuitive eating, etc. It was like getting new glasses--I could see the room before, but now I could see it so much more clearly!
I knew what calories were, and I'd read blogs from successful Sparkers who touted the pithy but too-vague-to-be-useful trope "Eat less and move more!", but it was all so nebulous until I started reading this message board. Like a light went on in the room, I realized, I just need to EAT LESS and maybe MOVE a little MORE!
I wasn't going to go into starvation mode, I didn't need to kickstart my metabolism, and expecting me to eat intuitively to a healthy weight is like expecting my glutton of a dog to maintain a healthy weight by leaving the kibble bag open.
I already had a good habit of tracking my food on the Nutrition tracker, but I started focusing on staying below a certain number. Tracking your food doesn't actually do you any good if you're just going to eat too much, anyway. I had this idea in my head that by keeping myself accountable, I'd lose weight, but I was only keeping myself accountable for tracking my food, not for what I was tracking, if that makes sense. Once I started focusing on keeping myself below a certain number of calories a day, the weight started coming off.
I lost the weight I gained during my Midwestern nightmare relatively easily, because I was living a different WAY. It's what "they" mean when they say "lifestyle change." You have to CHANGE your LIFESTYLE, through consistent habits.
Indeed, in retrospect, I can see where the weight would creep on--sure, yes, graduate school initially, but then there was my first fulltime job, with my first disposable income, getting my first car, buying my first house. Heck, even thinking about how the amount of TV I watch has grown in the last decade or so. All these things affect how many calories I use, and if I am not eating in a way that compensates for that, I gain weight.
After getting back to a point where my habits had me not losing any more, I've had to recommit to sticking with calorie goals, and here I am, essentially at a ten-year-old starting weight, but DARN PROUD that I am no longer obese and am less than 10 pounds away from a healthy BMI. I just wish it hadn't taken so long to get it. I guess I am a slow learner, or stubborn or something. It took me this long to quit smoking, too. I had my first quit at 19 and didn't have a forever quit until 29. For being a pretty long period of time, a decade sure does go by fast sometimes.