Just the fact that I’ve been Sparking continually for that long is an incredible achievement for me! I can hardly believe the changes I’ve made!
First of all, my initial plan in joining Spark was to get healthier and hopefully, lose some weight. I am very pleased to say that I’ve achieved both. Little did I know that when I joined Spark, my entire life and way of thinking was about to change. I suffer with chronic pain, illness and morbid obesity. It was really quite the vicious cycle: When I moved, it caused more pain, but if I didn’t move, everything got even worse. I began exercising in water and worked my way up to doing aquacize 3x a week. I have lost and gained weight a few times in my life but was never successful for any length of time. What I learned from that was that I could do just about anything for a limited amount of time, but not forever. I would lose a whole bunch of weight and then go back to eating as I had – only to gain back all the weight plus some!
When I joined Spark, I knew it was going to be different after a very short time. I can’t recall what inspired me to try yet another means of losing weight, but I am sure glad I did! If anyone had told me that I would learn to change my eating habits and learn to enjoy exercise – I never would have believed it. Not only was I surprised that I was able to do it, but I continue to be amazed at how much my entire thinking has changed! I enjoy food more now than I ever have. I also enjoy working out and experimenting with new ways to do so. Spark has taught me a lot about nutrition and how I could make this program adaptable to my lifestyle. The Spark Community has proven to be informative, supportive and just plain FUN!
I’ve learned to adapt recipes, and tried new things that might never have entered my grocery basket before. I have learned a lot about patience and the power of thinking positively, and breaking things down into smaller chunks so as not to be overwhelmed. I began committing to do just 10 minutes of exercise almost every day. That was a decent challenge for me then, but has now grown into my doing at least 45 minutes of exercise daily. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time initially trying to program in the foods that I normally eat and I am still tracking everything every day.
One of the greatest turning points for me in my Spark journey was acquiring a Spark Activity Tracker.
While I never saw myself as a competitive person before, having this little clip adding up my steps has really motivated me and helped me to push a little harder all the time. It comes down to the old adage, “no one ever said I wished I hadn’t worked out!” Yet how many times have I beaten myself up for not making the healthier choice?
And speaking of choices, I have become much more aware of the art of making good choices. Making this program a lifestyle boils down to making healthier choices for myself. There is really no food that is forbidden. Portion control and timing have more to do with making healthier choices, especially when it comes to certain foods. If I want to have a special treat, like say for example birthday cake, if I plan it well, I can not only “have my cake and eat it too” but I can do it GUILT-FREE!
I work harder to have the privilege of enjoying something special without any worry of a backlash. That is really what making healthy choices is about. Many times, things come up and you find yourself in situations where you have little control over choice. What do you do? You make the best choice possible and then take full charge again when you are able. This can make the difference between making a bad decision and having a bad day! So I made a bad decision? I’ll follow that with a good one and keep moving forward.
I lost 65 lb in my first year with Spark and 16 in the second year. That sounds bad at first, but putting it into perspective – I have successfully followed the Spark program for 2 years now and am still going strong. I am still tracking my food and exercise and continue to learn new ways to do both.
What is most important: I feel so much better! This is not a race. It’s a life journey. Although I still have a lot of weight to lose, I am in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life! This time I didn’t just lose weight; I built some muscle and gained a lot of strength both physically and emotionally.
I have returned to school and am pursuing a lifelong dream. Becoming a student, particularly at my later age, presents all sorts of challenges. Because I spend so much time on the computer with homework, I have had to cut down my Spark time drastically. Although I really miss the banter with my Spark Friends, I am inspired and honored by their continuous loving support. I accidentally “inherited” a leadership role in the most excellent Woohoo Jar Lounge Team.
Despite my having to reduce my participation, my friends continue to inspire & support me.
I have moved from doing aquacize 3x a week to doing it 5x a week, along with riding a bike, using a glider/elliptical, taking up yoga & hooping!
I have lost about 81 lbs & a total of 34 inches off my body. My BMI has reduced by 14.5 points. Two of my medications have been drastically reduced, and my pain levels are much more manageable. I have received more than 40 Gold Fitness Medals and have been credited with over 5000 Lifetime Miles.
While I still have more weight to lose, I am most proud of my consistency and just my whole attitude towards food, exercise and life in general. I am most grateful for Spark People and my wonderful friends in Sparkville! Thank you very much to my Spark friends who continue to inspire and support me. The journey is a much greater experience since I’ve surrounded myself with the wisdom and loving support of Spark People!