Today is my one-year anniversary of discovering SparkPeople! When I look back on the past year, I am amazed at how transformed I feel, both inside and out. I reached my goal weight and maintained it for 6 months. I now view exercise as a delight rather than a chore. I have discovered how much food I actually need to feel satisfied (much less than I used to think). I have new tools in my box to keep me on this journey forever.
To say I am grateful to have found SparkPeople is an understatement. In some ways, SP found me. I needed help, and for whatever reason, a link to this website appeared in my browser. I had never heard of it, and was surprised to find out that it had been around so long and had so many members. People I knew had signed up for it before, but never mentioned it to me.
It's not surprising, I guess. Most people, myself included, don't necessarily want to go around advertising that we're in some weight-loss program. Sure, we'll brag about it when we achieve results (yes, I did that too) but don't tend to say anything about it while we're trying it out.
The other thing about this site is that it gives you the resources to reach your goals and to be healthy, but it can't force you to succeed. You still have to do it on your own, and it is a lot of work. The fact that I wasn't working for the first few months of SP made it much easier to spend as much time as I needed on the site (which was a lot) and do everything I could to stay motivated. Once the level of activity and food tracking because habit, it was easier to go back to work and still feel like I could "make it" in this journey.
What has made it all worthwhile is the amazing number of friends I've made along the way. When we are all trying to accomplish something similar, it's awesome to be able to work together on these common goals. I'm so grateful for everyone I've met through this website, even if we parted ways further along. I'm a better person because you are (or were) in my life.
So, if you're new to this journey and just discovering what you want to do, here are some suggestions that I picked up that helped me. I'm copying from a team post I wrote a little over a week ago...
1. Make your SparkPage public. This allows others to leave you comments of encouragement and give you SparkGoodies to make you feel special (and they have ZERO calories!). To make your SparkPage public, go to your SparkPage and click "Edit My SparkPage" (or go here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_edi
t.asp ) In the upper right corner under More Options, clear out the first two checkboxes: "Only allow my SparkFriends to see my page" and "Turn my page offline". They should NOT be checked. People can't add you as a friend if they can't get to your page.
2. Write a blog. Try to do it every day if you can. Talk about your struggles. Write about your successes. Post pictures before and after. When you tell your story, you help others with what they are struggling with. Try to inspire people with your story, don't use it just as a means to vent.
3. Track your food and fitness. Nobody but you will know what you're eating, so be honest. The only person you're hurting is you if you don't track every single bite accurately. And make sure your fitness activities are tracked to. Exercise is every bit as important as your nutrition. Start slow, if you're just starting, but do more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.
4. Push yourself when the exercise gets easier. If you aren't out of breath walking at 2 miles per hour, then speed it up! Find a hill to climb if you've just been walking on level ground. Keep making exercise tougher. Before you know it, the tougher exercises are easy! Then kick it up another notch.
5. Finally, forgive yourself. It doesn't matter how you reached the point you're at right now, if you're not happy with it. What matters is how you want to go forward. Do you want to stay the same, or do you want to change? Once you've made that choice, then you have made the first step toward getting there.
So THANK YOU to SparkPeople, for a great year of amazing transformation. And warm thanks to all of you who have been with me on this journey. (And if we're just meeting for the first time today - Hello! You're welcome to come with me too!) I am just beginning, and every day is something new.
Keep Sparking, friends!