I'm supposed to be hanging out with the maintenance crew at this point, but since I celebrATEd a little too long and a little too much, I am back to trying to sing those famous Beck lyrics again (except for those "...so why don't you kill me?" and "Gettin' crazy with the Cheeze-Whiz..." parts). Today, my fellow losers, let's check out some simple math (or maybe no so simple. I'm totally anti-Common Core[uption], but I really don't know what we did before calculators and Google.) Anyway, check this out:
You may not recognize these numbers, but they mean a LOT to me, because they are basically a chronicle of the changes that occurred in me from January 1, 2014 to April 11, 2016, my 831-day weight-loss journey, during which I took off 174 lbs. doing little more than making a few life/diet changes, logging my food on Spark, and adhering to the calorie counts suggested to me by this amazingly handy website. That number at the end is what I want you to focus on. If rounding is good enough for pi, we'll round it to 0.21. What is that number? That's how much I lost, on average, for every day of that journey. For the sake of comparison, let's really examine that 0.21 lbs., as it equates to visible, recognizable things (again, something to thank Google for):
-- a deck of cards
-- half a hamster
-- three-fifths of a billiards ball
This is not really encouraging, is it? I mean, couldn't I have at least lost a whole rodent? An entire eight-ball? More than a few jokers?
One of the remarks I see most often on Spark and hear most often from those with weight struggles IRL is, "It takes too long to lose weight." Many people who are just starting out on Spark are posting things like, "I want to lose 75 lbs. in 4 months," or "I want to lose 5 lbs. a week," or, "I want to merge left in Cato before my class reunion next Tuesday." Folks, this is NOT reality, and while hope and a positive attitude are VERY important and crucial to any effort, weight loss included, your goals must be as realistic as they are challenging. Personally, I'd love to eat six pizzas and still fit into the skort I bought yesterday, but it's just not going to happen...and if I do eat those six pizzas, it's going to take a whole lot longer than next Tuesday for me to fit in that skort again.
In all those silly motivational meetings they used to send me to when I worked in Cubicle Land (I loathe meetings in general, which is yet another reason I avoid Oprah Watchers, though I must say that my boyfriend's presence at almost all meetings makes them a bit more tolerable), they mentioned goals. Basically, if you aim for nothing, you might just hit it. (Hey! I made that up! Quick, Autie! Start touring and doing motivational meetings!) You must have goals, but those motivational types always talk about S.M.A.R.T. ones (and I don't mean the Oprah Watchers meals, but I would highly recommend the Tuna Noodle Gratin.) I'm a lover of acronyms, and I agree with this one for the most part, because MOST of it applies to so much in life...and in our figures too. I say "most," because that last part really doesn't and shouldn't apply to your weight-loss journey, or you will only set yourself up for disappointment:
That last one, "time-bound" (or "timely," depending on what motivational speaker your company is paying to distract you from your real work for six hours) should NOT be part of your weight-loss efforts. Why? Because when it comes to weight loss, time is NOT of the essence.
How old were you when you weighed your heaviest, or at least when you started this admirable and difficult quest you are on? That age will tell you just how long it took you to get to that weight you do not/did not want to be. I began getting heavy in my early teens and continued gaining weight into adulthood. In 2003, at the age of 33, I started a weight-loss attempt and weighed in initially at 293 lbs. I did manage to make a real dent when a program very similar to Spark on my Palm Pilot helped me take off 150-ish lbs., but I was not in the right frame of mind to keep that weight off, and it came back on again over the next decade, along with 36 extra lbs. On January 1, 2014, I weighed in at 329 lbs., but I was in that nasty one-sixth-of-a-ton neighborhood long before that, for much of my adult life. If I base my journey on when I set off on this voyage via Spark, I can say it took 831 days, but the truth is, it has been a MUCH longer quest than that, as evidenced by these horrible photos from 2012 and 1990-something. I'd venture to say that even Indiana Jones wouldn't have stuck with a quest as long as I have, especially if he got knocked off the horse or jumped off it so many times during the adventure.
Allow me to encourage you, friend, that no matter how long it takes, if you are making progress and trying every day, it WILL be worth the weight! You may have to wander around for a long, long time before you come to the promised land, but that land IS promised to you as long as you keep working at it and open your mind and your behavior to learn lessons along the way. Your S.M.A.R.T. goals for weight loss really need to be:
There is a lot of focus on national parks this year, and in thinking about that, I can't help thinking of one of those places I'd love to see, Mt. Rushmore. After recently making a joke to my friend that a monumental task I'm facing is something like "carving Mt. Rushmore with a toothpick," I decided to investigate just how monumental that actual carving was. As it turns out, it was a job that required 400 people. They were paid only $8 a day for their dangerous work, and 90% of the mountain was carved using dynamite while those industrious, brave folks dangled precariously from 3/8-inch thick steel cables. Surprisingly, no one died during the carving, though someone did pass away later from inhaling the dust of the rock. The most remarkable thing, though, was that the creation of that memorial we still enjoy today began on October 27, 1927 and was not complete until October 31, 1941. Did you get that, people? It took about 14 years! Surely you can understand why tenacity and patience are so important as you carve the new you.
Webster's (and Merriam, I suppose) defines "tenacity" as the following: "not easily stopped or pulled apart; firm or strong; continuing for a long time; very determined to do something." In this journey, we MUST be more concerned with tenacity than we are with time. While your weight may very well be a ticking time bomb if you don't do anything about it, there is really not a timer on deactivating that bomb. The important part is to be dedicated to stopping that explosion!
I hit my first 100 lbs. of loss on October 1, 2014, exactly 10 months after I started Sparking. That last 74 lbs. took significantly longer, admittedly because I slacked off a bit and wasn't as strict with my celebrations and treats, and also because some drastic life (and painful death) events forced me to somewhat back-burner my live-it for a while. (When the sweet neighbor lady brings over huge casseroles of baked macaroni and your cousin brings gooey butter cake to console your bereavement after losing your mother and then your father, it's a bit difficult to think about calorie-counting.) I'd like to think, though, that I remained tenacious enough to stick with it and/or get back to it this time, and that tenacity rewarded me on my 831st day. Please do not set a time limit or an unreasonable time demand on your journey or yourself, because that will only lead to disappointment and entice you to quit when those time constraints aren't met. Truly, good weights come to those who time!