This morning, on one of those so-called news shows that do little more than irritate me and make my head throb, demanding another tryst with my boyfriend, I saw a report about this new fad the ridiculous media has dubbed "promposals." Apparently, our tech-addicted young people have gone from simply a nervous schoolboy shuffling his feet around in the dirt and bashfully asking a girl to the dance to competing with one another by showboating their prom invites in huge and expensive and ridiculously overdone ways. I have nothing against proms. I have nothing against adorable puppy love romance. I have a lot against a 16-year-old kid drumming up a $300 or more expense just to invite someone and teenagers spending upwards of $1,000 to go to a school dance, by the time you add in all the unnecessaries. Sure, it's supposed to be a night to remember, but that doesn't mean it should drain his lawn-mowing money or haunt her mom and dad's credit card bill for ten months. The worst part about it, though, is that the whole promposal phenomenon is being exacerbated by social media. Johnny Smooth decides he's going to rent a private jet just to ask little Patricia Pom Poms to the prom, and the next thing you know, the entire senior class is tweeting, liking, posting, and sharing, and everyone has something to say about it or some desire to compete with it. What's the problem here? A LOT...and it applies to us too.
First, there is the competition aspect. What is the goal here, the proverbial end zone? To get the girl to prom, right? By forcing undue competition, some people will be left in the dust. Those unfortunate fellas who don't have giant bank accounts or the imagination to do something grand may find themselves without dates. The young gentlemen of the Class of 2017 are really on the same team, all trying to find someone to give a corsage to, and the unnecessary competition makes some feel as if their efforts are simply not good enough. Because of this, they may give up altogether. That sweet little bouquet of carnations simply doesn't compare to an airplane message in the sky, so why bother, right? For those of us on Spark, the ultimate end zone is to get to our goal weight, whatever that is for each of us, then to maintain it for a healthier life. The thing is, we all have our own ways to do it. Some of us depend on calories. The other day, someone on Spark made a rather heated remark to another Spark user, blasting him for eating 1,200 calories and claiming he cannot possibly do that in a healthy way. Strangely enough, that is EXACTLY how I've taken off my 174 lbs., and I've been doing it for over 2 years, and I'm still here. Vegans and vegetarians sometimes have much to say in the way of criticizing those who eat meat, and vice versa. Those who are very involved in the exercise side often have lots of eye-rolls for those of us whose most strenuous physical activity is stumbling 8 feet to the Coffee maker, and vice versa. Some people use those points-counting programs, while others absolutely find them ridiculous, no matter how much Oprah loves bread. Some of us spend a lot of time on bended knee, praying to the Creator for His help in shrinking His creations, while others are not believers or may be believers in a different denomination. I have seen a lot of great advice on Spark, and mountains of encouragement and inspiration, but I have also seen the ugly side of users bashing one another for choosing a different route to the proverbial end zone. We are all individuals, and we all have different bodies and different conditions and different lifestyles. It is a puzzle to figure out, and a lot of trial and error is involved. For this reason, I encourage all weight-losers and weight-maintainers to remember that what works for the goose may not work for the gander, but that doesn't make the gander any less right or any more wrong. Our puzzle pieces are all different, and we should share what works for us without blasting what works for others.
Second, we have to stop comparing ourselves to others. I lost 174 lbs. in 831 days, and I lost the first 100 of those lbs. in exactly 10 months. Even more shocking, I did so without doing much of anything, other than adjusting my calories to fit into the neighborhood of 1,200 calories, and I wasn't always in that neighborhood (I'm not about to turn down Christmas cookies, and I insist on treating myself on special days and celebrations). There are people who have lost weight much more quickly, and there are some who tell me they don't see how I've done it because they have to work a lot harder at it. My sister is one of these folks who has to work a lot harder, because while she's done amazingly, she has struggled with more plateaus and difficulties, especially in the last tumultuous year. Recently, regarding the issue of my house-cleaning and domestic capability versus hers, I mentioned to her that I am always embarrassed because her house looks like GOOD HOUSEKEEPING and she can make more than frozen meals for her family. I swear, the woman can make ANYTHING in the kitchen, while I struggle not to burn the Spam. Not only that, but she's always been the tall, blonde one, while I've felt like the sort of wrinkled older sister with the bad teeth and horrible hair. Going even further, I've made a lot of really idiot decisions and mistakes and rebellious choices in life that have left me in a bit of a lurch in my forties in many ways, while she's avoided most of those traps and has done really well for herself in love and other areas, and she's the best mother on the planet, while I often think my daughter should divorce me before she ends up in a straightjacket from living with me. I crumble at the slightest worry, while my sister laughs in the face of adversity and clings to her faith and a positive attitude. When I've mentioned these things to my Superwoman Barbie of a sister (I really do think of her that way), she has said, "Stop comparing yourself to me! God made us different!" Many of you have complimented me on my success, and I cannot tell you how much that has meant to me. I have received so many posts, likes, messages, and comments on Spark, and these will help me as I move into the rough terrain of maintenance, but I implore none of you to compare your journey to mine. If you are taking positive steps for your health, no matter how many steps you need to take, you are just as much of a success story as I or anyone else is!
Third, let us not forget that before there was social media, people were actually more social. The world does not revolve around likes and tweets, as much as the Almighty Interwebs would like to make you think it does. If this were not the case, if the internet was not affecting our emotions, Facebook would not have had to add the extra emotes to their site recently. There was a day and age when we did not have to take our phones everywhere, and we knew we were doing good things because the real people around us told us so. If you post your weight loss on your Spark page and do not get any likes, do not fret. If you confess on Facebook that you ate a large order of fries dipped in your Frosty, and no one comments to encourage you - or, worse, people simply start yelling at you - do not let that send you into an emotional tumult that has you back at the Wendy's drive-thru, weeping bitterly into your Baconator. (Just for the record, Dave and his red-haired, freckled daughter should be ashamed of themselves, because that sandwich has 940 calories in it, 513 of them from FAT!) Sure, Johnny Smooth might get 87 likes in the first 37 seconds after posting his promposal antics, but you don't have to be down on yourself just because your Spark blogs/posts or tweets or shares or stati (I know that's not a word, but I think it makes me sound smarter anyway) don't go viral.
Anyone who has read my blogs knows that I am forever a Da Bears girl. I have no reason, really, other than an odd crush I had on Jim McMahon, my love of angry, screaming coaches who are willing to give themselves coronary episodes to keep their teams in order (which might also explain my adoration of Chef Ramsay), my fandom of Walter "Sweetness" Payton (after whom I named my lhasa apso at one time, and he didn't seem to mind strutting around the house in a Bears bandana either), and my emotional attachment to the 1986 Superbowl since it was the first pro football game I ever watched on TV with my dad. As such, I think a quote from Ditka is appropriate here:
Your social rank on Facebook or Spark or LinkedIn or Twitter doesn't matter. Your methods don't really matter, as long as they are not harmful to you or others. What really matters, folks, is that we are all on the same team, working toward the same goal. Whether it's prom, the end zone, or a certain number on the scale, let's all keep working, with disicipline and the inner peace that we are doing something good for ourselves and, by association, those we love...and let's be a supportive team in the process, even if we scramble to the end zone differently!