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So, you just started with Sparkpeople...some advice for your success.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

I have seen an awful lot of you join Spark in this new year. I thought that since you are all getting going, it might be time to write down a few pointers to be a success here.

I am now in maintenance. I still do the exact same things I have always been doing since I started, tracking food every day, getting in more than 2 hours of fitness every day..I DID NOT START OUT THIS WAY...Now, I always do chair yoga, and do stretching in the morning with weights, then swim and do some more things at the gym, at least 4 times a week. ALL of this has been very manageable, and frankly, easy, once I really got going.

I have lost 112 pounds. I started Spark on May 10, 2015. I will celebrate my 60th birthday on January 22, in the best shape I have ever been in, with a future laid out for me like a beach sunset. I can't wait for my next life adventure, and I know I will be facing it as a healthy, fit person.

How did I do this, and how should you approach this to actually succeed here? The first thing, and this is really critical, is to clean out your kitchen. Really clean it out, get rid of every single thing in it that isn't good for you, that could tempt you, that will throw you off track. Don't look at this stuff anymore as something that you MIGHT want. You are going to never want it again, REALLY! If you live with people that insist on having junk around, put it in containers that you do not see. Trick yourself to look at the good stuff first.

You MUST not think of this as a diet. You must think of this as a life change. You are not going to diet ever again. You are changing the way you look at food. Hopefully, you will be able to stop using food as an emotional aide, if you were, and start looking at it as a sustainable, life-long eating plan.

Set up your webpage, make it public so you can add Sparkfriends, and become a member of this community. This community is filled with AWESOME people that will help you, will say good things, will be a constant encouragement along the way. Blog every day. It is cathartic, and will make you spill out your emotions every day. Read blogs, read articles, watch videos. This is an incredible resource, and there are a number of us here who are successes, and who can inspire you every single day. All of us that have succeeded are here to help you succeed.

You have to track your food. Go to your home page, enter in your weight, and the weight you want to be, and it will set calorie levels for you. The calorie levels are a great gauge. When you add exercise to your tracker, the calorie levels go up. It is a great way to see how you are doing and what calories you still have left at the end of the day. Having calories left at the end of the day is a GOOD THING!!

Find an exercise that you like. Don't start Zumba and realize that you are doing it just because you made a resolution. If anything, walk. Do something that you can realistically do and like to do, for the rest of your life. Exercise is an important part of this. I started with riding a bike after a knee fracture. I added in Silver Sneakers Chair Yoga, then when I got some personal confidence to put on a swimsuit, I started swimming. I can't walk much right now, but this year, I plan on adding walking to my daily routine, because it is so good for you mentally, and just gets you going. You do not have to run. Walking is awesome exercise.

Food...sit down and write all the things that you currently eat. What do you have for breakfast and how can you make that better for you? How many fruits and vegetables do you eat every day? Do you eat lean meat? Do you drink water? If you have ANY drinks with sugar in them, get rid of them. They are lethal, and awful for you in a million ways. Start drinking water. Make sun tea. Have coffee with fat free half and half. Use Stevia sweetener.

I don't eat any sugar whatsoever anymore. I use Truvia in recipes, and it tastes and works great. I eat a minimum of 7-10 fruits and vegatables every single day.

Use Sparkrecipes. It is a wonderful component of this website. I make bran muffins in bulk, have some in the freezer and eat one every morning. They are delicious, and I usually have an orange with them. For lunch, I have a burrito I make in bulk and fruit. I make a smoothie with frozen fruit and a banana every day. For dinner, I make a salad with about ten vegetables in it, add salmon, and always have some pears, candied walnuts (I make these with brown sugar truvia) avocado, and bleu cheese (all the last things are in small quantities). All these recipes are in my recipe folder on Sparkrecipes.

Find some fruits and vegetables you like and eat them. They are an important component of your new eating for life program, and you need to find some you love to eat. Throw out any processed breads, as many processed foods as you can, and eat as "clean" as you can. Cooking things has been my key. I know what is in everything I eat, and I try to eat organic and "clean", which means as close to nature as possible. I don't add salt to anything, as all the salt in processed foods is not good for you. Not to mention the preservatives and other chemicals that have no business being in your food.

Use these three rules: Never eat standing up. Always put your fork down between bites. Make a meal last as long as possible. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to know you have fed it. Make your meal last that long, and you won't be hungry afterward.

The last and maybe most important thing is this. Right now, don't look at this as a long-term thing you are doing. Do this for TODAY. Then do it tomorrow. Those days will build up, and every day that you succeed will bring personal rewards. Don't ever quit. If you fall down one day, and have to eat something, just eat it. Sit down, eat it and enjoy it. Then put it in your tracker, try to figure out what was so important for you about that, and MOVE ON. Don't beat yourself up for anything. You are human. We are imperfect, but we can try really hard.

Good luck. If you get going, this is one hell of a great ride. I'm at the end of it and it felt like being on a roller coaster that only went down the big hills. Looking back, I am not surprised at my success, as I worked hard every single day to achieve it. The key is that I am going to work hard today, with exercise, with eating well, and I know I will do the same tomorrow.

Let me know if you have any questions. I would be HAPPY to help.

Spark on!
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