I'm not really a big message board poster, but I have found so many of your stories so inspiring and motivational that I decided to share my own. My hope is that it might inspire someone out there who just needs a little extra push!
I started gaining weight when I was 4. I remember a trip to a hospital in a far-away town to have tests - the results and doctor's wise advice? Quit putting sugar in the Kool-Aid. Seriously - that was the advice. By mid-elementary school, despite Sweet-N-Low in the Kool-Aid, I wore boy's size 14 "husky" jeans. Mom always told me that they were for girls, too, they just kept them in the boys department. By high school, I had reached the vast height of 5 feet 2 inches, which I remain today - and weighed about 180. I was the girl who always needed the largest (and shortest) choir robe, costume or formal wear - hey, being the biggest person on stage didn't stop me from being on stage!
My parents always wanted me to be healthy, but never pushed the dieting issue too hard. The few times they tried ended in tears, a few lost pounds and then even more weight gain, so, eventually, they left it alone. Once, my Grandpa promised me a banana split if I lost ten pounds. That was one of my few successful attempts - which, of course, what immediately derailed by the banana split. I wasn't particularly happy about my size, but I was content to be who and how I believed that I was supposed to be.
In January of 2007, my little brother, Shane, made a note on his blog about joining Spark People - I decided to take a look, too. Shane and I are very close, but we also share a competitive streak a mile wide - when I found out he was going to lose his few extra pounds, I decided that I needed in on that action! By that time, thanks to my steady single-woman diet of fast food and television, my weight had reached 250 pounds. I signed up for Spark People, not actually expecting to lose much (it all seemed too good to be true!), but willing to live by the rules and give it a real shot. My initial weight-loss goal was 50 pounds in a year. I only made lifestyle changes that I knew I could maintain long-term. I DETEST "exercise." When you weigh 250 pounds, the gym is NOT a place you want to be. Instead of setting fitness goals that I knew were destined to fail, my philosophy became "eat less, move more."
Using the tools provided by Spark People, I tracked my food intake religiously and engaged in my unique brand of exercise (think scrubbing the floor by hand instead of using a mop, mowing the yard a few extra times, taking walks at the mall instead of on a treadmill, etc.). For the first time in my life, I actually thought about the things that I put into my body. Always a picky eater, I began branching out and trying new, healthier things. Veggies at every meal! Fast food for very special occasions ONLY - and then, usually salad and NEVER super sized. Turkey burgers or 96/4 beef instead of 80/20. Sometimes, just healthier versions of the old favorites - chili with turkey, veggie burgers or thin crust pizza. Best of all, Spark People taught me what REAL portions should be - shock and surprise - they aren't what you'll get in a restaurant!
The weight started falling away almost instantly. As my weight decreased, my whole attitude changed. I left the house more, shopped in different stores, spent time outside and became more confident. I realized that I hadn't actually been as happy with my old self as I had convinced everyone - of course, the one I had been lying to the most was me. Sure, I've had bad days - generally, there is Mexican food and dessert involved, but I just start fresh and new on the next day.
As of today, every member of my family is a "Sparker." Mom and Shane have reached their goals and Dad is fighting onward toward his. I have no doubt that he'll reach it if he sets his mind to it. And me? As of today, I have lost 102.5 pounds!!! Most importantly, I FEEL better and am much healthier at 148 than I was at 250. My plan is to lose a few more pounds and reach a "Healthy" BMI rating. After that, I will spend the rest of my life keeping off the weight that I've spent so much time taking off. And I'll spend those years wearing a size 6 rather than the 28 that I started out this journey in.
Thank you "Spark People" for giving me the tools, knowledge and encouragement that I needed to succeed, thank you family for supporting me and joining me on the journey, thank you to Shane for the initial, unexpected push toward the pathway and thank you, Lord Jesus for helping me every single time that I prayed "God, please don't let me eat that ______, that looks so yummy right now." If I can do it, ANYONE can do it - so, give it a shot! You won't believe what happens!