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Sparkpeople Convention 2009

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Wow, what can I say about the Sparkpeople Convention that hasn't been echoed by everyone else who attended? It was an amazing experience, with so many great lessons to be learned from the people there!

I got to meet up with the volunteers and staff members the day before the convention. Spark Guy Chris, Coach Nicole, Dietitian Becky, Expert Jenny... these people were wonderful, warm, and genuine. It was like meeting Spark Celebrities! It was so great to get a chance to hear them and converse with them for a few moments before the hectic race got under way. It was also super to see familiar faces from the message boards at Spark San Diego Team- Leah (how I missed her!), Diane, Felicia, Violet, Jocelyn... Awesome ladies!

The next day was convention day! I'm glad the media-induced hyper-panic about the swine flu couldn't keep these fellow Sparks away! Spark Guy Chris started off the morning with his story. It was a great story to hear... truly inspirational. Start with 10 minutes of activity a day... It was the birth of the Spark Streak! :-) After that we had the real-life member panelists do their presentations. This was particularly touching. They told us their stories- from their weight gain, to feeling terrible about themselves, to doing something about it, to their successes, triumphs, setbacks, etc. There were more than a few tears shed! The audience was given an opportunity to ask questions for tips and advice. The ladies shared some truly invaluable ideas with the crowd- Jocelyn's (Wolfkitty) point about holiday eating not being "special" eating was right on! There will always be another holiday, another opportunity to eat those foods. Is Thanksgiving going to be the last time you'll have your turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc? NO! It won't be. There will be a Thanksgiving every year. Dana (Zircadia) emphasized portion control awareness and self-control during holidays. Don't deprive yourself of holiday foods, but be aware of your hunger level. If you're full, stop eating! If you want a piece of pecan pie, eat it! Just eat one piece. And everyone on the panel emphasized not beating yourself up for your "bumps in the road". Everyone is going to mess up. Don't dwell on it. Just move on. Don't convince yourself that you have already screwed up once and justify letting yourself screw up the rest of the day. Jocelyn said "I'm not a member of the Start-Over Club. I don't have do-overs." Just accept that you are human and prone to human compulsions. Don't fix the situation later. Fix it now. No do-overs, just keep going. Leah's (Spring4Fal) enthusiasm is so contagious! She wants to see everyone succeed and she puts herself out there to help you! Just take the first step if you need it and reach out!

The next speaker was Fitness Maven Nancy Howard. She was a bubbly, warm woman with a cheery Texas accent! She's an avid runner. She gave us tips and ideas about working out. Her message of "something is better than nothing" fits perfectly well with the idea of Spark Guy's streak. If all you have time for is 10 minutes of exercise, it's better than doing nothing with those 10 minutes. So, do something! Each time, do something! She said that we are all athletes. We just need to channel our inner athlete and get moving! Also, she said when it comes to working out on a treadmill, never run/walk on less than 2% or 3% incline. She indicated that studies have shown a 0% incline is equivalent to walking DOWN a hill! That leaves you more susceptible to injury like shin splints and whatnot. Also, alternating inclines and speeds during your workout is more like walking naturally outdoors.

After Nancy's presentation was Food Guru Becky Hand. She had lots of fun handouts for us to do during her presentation. Obviously, I've scanned one of them. I have it hanging on my fridge! (Which was her intention, I'm sure!) Anyway, aside from some obsessive-compulsive kitchen ideas ;-) (alphabetize and mega-organize your spices and pantry by building your own specialty shelves!) she had several good points regarding eating and nutrition. Canned and frozen items are just fine! It doesn't always have to be fresh! Sit down and plan out a weekly dinner menu. No joke! It helps not only the organization process, but it keeps you on track and makes sure you make healthy, good decisions regarding meals instead of leaving it up to chance at the last minute. Reduce the junk! My eating style (as per the results of the quiz) is "Scratch is where it's at!" meaning, I make most of my meals at home and try new recipes, have several spices in my spice rack (20 or more), and sit at a table to eat. I don't usually practice a grab and go lifestyle, with ready made meals and I was almost borderline "Mix it, Fix it" where I do a combo of eating out and eating in. In general I'm a home meal type of gal. Lately, thanks to my lack of groceries, I'm a mixed eat in/out gal. My eating personality scored high on both Emotional and Relationship eater, but wasn't too far off for Stress and Pleasure eater, either. Almost even across the board, actually. Also, I think I spaced out what a "Food Phantom" was... can anyone fill me in? :-S Her next message was 4 mindful bites. Take your time with eating those first four bites of food. Pause and savor each bite. Put down the fork. Close your eyes. Focus on what is in your mouth- taste, temperature, texture. Eat to live, not live to eat. Also,

The next presentation was from Life Coach Cheryl Richardson. As rousing and important as all the presentations were this day, I wish hers was longer. She had so many great things to say about "Toxic People" in your life. Even if they aren't directly derailing your success as a new, healthy, maybe skinny person, they can inadvertently do so. Especially for stress/emotional eaters! Toxic people don't make you feel good, so why keep 'em around? They "puke" their stress and toxin on you, and you take it in and turn it into your own. Its hard to tell these people, especially if they're family, about their behavior and how it affects you, but it is highly super important that you do! Its YOUR LIFE. They do not get control or power over you! That's no way to live! If its too difficult to talk to them because they drain you of your life force, something needs to change. Don't give them attitude, don't give them excuses, don't explain yourself, don't dismiss their behavior (whether they claim to be joking or not). Be neutral, but be firm. The less words you say to them, the better. Anything you say beyond "I do not like it when you do/say/act like this" is more fuel for them to come back at you with the same thing or something worse. Keep it short and sweet. And give them three small chances. If they say it again, gently remind them you do not appreciate their behavior/comments. If they do it a third time, walk away. Let them know you will not be victim to their spew/puke/toxin any more. Its not fair for you to have to accommodate them when they make you feel so horrible. They aren't accommodating you and they get to make you feel horrible while they still feel good. F*** that!!!

Spark Guy ended the day for us by previewing the new Sparkpeople book, entitled "The Spark" due out December 29th of this year! How awesome is that?! Finally, a book! Its got great stories from people, as well as tips, advice, etc. It looks like it'll be a must-read! I'm very excited about it. I wish I could remember more, but there was sooo much information, and it was the end of the day, and I was simply exhausted by that time. A final guest speaker, who's name I regret I do not remember, came up and briefly shared her story. Then, Spark Guy said his good-byes and that was it!

It was an incredible day. I just felt empowered and blessed and part of a big family of people with similar health/fitness goals as I did. It was amazing!!! I left there with lots of goodies! A sweet tote bag, 3 shirts (gratis), a calendar, a water bottle, one of them cute technical shirts!, SparkGoodies from a few people, and lessons, tips, and advice I can and will apply to my own journey.

Feel free, for those who have actually read this far, to add your favorite lessons learned, correct anything I got wrong, or share your favorite memory. Put up your pics of the convention and be sure to upload them to the Flickr group! (See convention team page for the link)

Side note:
I lost 3 inches in my hips, waist, and neck this month. I gained??? 1 inch in my bust! Woo!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon specifically for the recap of Cheryl Richardson's portion. I already responded to you but when I reread it, I realized I had not written anything about this part of the day and that you captured what she said really nicely.

    4344 days ago
    I love your recap!!
    4362 days ago
    This convention was an overall AWESOME experience, and was well worth my time and money to go!! I have met so many great people, and have learned so much that will help the people that touch my life and about myself as well!!! emoticon
    4368 days ago
    Jill, so glad you had fun! Would love to have gone, but so far away for me :( I am so happy to hear it has helped re-ignite your Spark! You are such a motivation and I think you are awesome for everything you have to accomplish in your daily life! I am so lucky to know you! Keep up the awesome work :)
    Love ya!
    4369 days ago
    Thanks for doing such a great blog entry on the event. I am doing blog entries--but I have done two and have only scratched the surface. I am going to refer folks to your page so that they do not have to wait for me to slowly work my way through that weekend!

    4369 days ago
  • CLAUDIA1333
    Wow this sounds like a truly incredible experience! I'm a bit jealous. ;-) a SPARKPEOPLE book?? I can't wait!!! Congrats on your losses this month, and your gain too. Keep up the good work!
    4370 days ago
    I'd say you covered pretty much everything from the convention here!! And lucky you for getting those free shirts!! I'm too short and all the tall people around me were beating me to them (LOL). As far as the food phantom, I have no idea either!! I don't remember her mentioning it, but she was fabulous!! I loved her energy and sense of humor. I loved the whole day actually. I've only been a member for 6 weeks (and 3 days), but the whole convention completely reaffirmed the reason I joined. My favorite part? The member panel, hearing their stories pulled my heart strings and brought tears to my eyes. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    4371 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.