One Day at a Time - Part 1 *

Couldn’t all of us use a little motivation from time to time? Recently, one member inspired everyone here at SparkPeople, and we think her story can help you too. Donna (DONNA999) may be several pounds away from her goal, but as a busy mother of two with a demanding job, she’s like so many of us—learning from mistakes, making gradual changes, seeing progress and facing pitfalls. We’re going to follow her as she uses SparkPeople to reach her goals. Read how her journey began.

From "Donna’s Journal," April 27th 2005, 1:00 a.m.

I decided to start a journal today because I had my second "ah ha" moment today, and I've realized I need something to keep me focused on what I have to accomplish. I'm going to be brutally honest with myself.

For the last eight years I've been involved in software implementation projects for my company. This involves long hours at work, most of it sitting in front of a computer. To keep us from leaving the office, the project managers provide lots and lots of food and snacks within easy reach.

Okay, okay, most people realize that lots of sitting and lots of eating adds up to lots of weight. But while I "knew" it had a lot to do with my weight gain, I didn't really "realize" the impact.

The first "ah ha" moment came on the first day I recorded my food intake in the Nutrition Tracker. I remember the date very, very well. March 29th.

I THOUGHT I had been doing well during the day not eating nearly as much as I normally would. After all, I only ate one of the donuts and didn't snack on several additional ones while I worked. I skipped the jars of candy, passed up the cookies and chocolate cake, cut back on my cokes, from three or four to only two. I didn't have a BIG lunch—just ate one of the cheeseburgers provided and only half my fries.

I got home from work and cooked dinner for the boys and helped them with their homework and then watched a little TV to relax. Just before I was going to go to bed I remembered that I planned to log my food for the day. I logged on to SparkPeople and started recording.

The numbers piled up! It was a major shock to see how quickly the calories, fat grams, and carbs added up. I was over the suggested limit by lunch and the numbers kept on coming.

I stared at the screen and then took off some of the food so it wouldn't look as bad, I adjusted quantities, traded full-fat for fat-free, and changed and changed and changed. I put food in and then took it out again as if that would take the calories out of my body—oh, wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? Over and over I played with the food list.

After a while, I stared at the screen and I knew I was wasting my time if I didn't record what I really ate.

I couldn't stay in denial any longer, as my first "ah ha" moment bounced through my brain like a rubber ball in a small enclosed place.

I ate too much.

It was as simple as that, I thought. I need to learn to control my portions and control the number of calories I eat.

I thought of how much I weighed that morning—205 pounds. More than I had ever weighted in my life. Every month I seemed to put on another pound or two, until a week ago I had to break down and buy a size-18 dress for Easter brunch. Buying that size had been such a shock. I still thought of myself as a size 5 or 7. But I wasn't that size anymore. I hadn't been in about eight years.

I've always been a good planner and scheduler. It's one of my strengths. I decided that I was going to take the time to PLAN my food a day early and then stick with my plan. Again, a simple thought, but then no one ever said eating healthy was complicated.

That night and every night since, I have created my food plan for the next day. I scheduled three meals and two to three snacks for work. Worked to ensure that there were at least two fruit and two veggies and two dairies every day. I also vowed I would drink my 8 glasses of water BEFORE I drank a single coke.

I've stuck to my plan like cement glue to paper. If I wanted to eat something not on my plan, I went to the computer and adjusted the food before a crumb crossed my lips. If I could eat it and stay within my calories, fat, and carbs then I would eat it. If not, I wouldn’t.

It was hard at first. Planning my food. Drinking my water. But it became easier over the weeks. It took almost three weeks for me to drink 8 glasses of water in a day. By the time I managed to do it, I no longer craved the cokes.

The results of "scheduling" and tracking my food and adding exercise into my week have been great. I lost 13 pounds in a couple of weeks, and began wearing my looser size 14s.

I'd thought I had the whole "getting into and staying in a healthy weight" thing down and was feeling smug and proud... then came my second "ah ha" moment...

* Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program. 

Read more from "Donna’s Journal".