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Nik and I having fun in a photo booth at my friend's wedding. - February 2011

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Beach in Mexico - December 2010

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Turning "Someday" into Today: Weighing Some Tough Options
-- By Mike Kramer, Staff Writer

It's time for some cold, hard facts:
*You're not going to be able to read every book that you want
*You'll never have time to watch all of your favorite shows
*The house will never be clean enough
*There will always be another errand to run
*The grass will continue to grow
*Everything you buy will need to be dusted, repaired, maintained or disposed of in some way

This is not a critique of any lack of organizational skills on your part, or a reason to give up altogether. Rather, it's a statement of freedom.

When I set out to update my SparkPage, I had a very difficult time decided what to write. What parts of my SparkPeople history do I keep? What parts do I delete? Ultimately, the bit above this is the only thing I decided to keep.

I feel so cheesy saying SparkPeople changed my life, but it’s the truth so cheese on. For me the journey hasn’t been about what I’ve lost; it’s been about what I’ve gained. It’s been about getting healthy, about finding myself, and about making the most of life. SparkPeople had taught me lessons, introduced me to new people and new ideas, and caused me to look at things in a different way. Of course my life with Spark hasn’t been perfect, but then again, nothing is.

So, I guess the best place to start is at the beginning huh? Growing up I was never especially overweight. In fact, I never thought of myself as fat or struggles with serious body image issues or formed an obsession with the scale. (Truth be told, I still don't give the scale much thought.) I grew up eating well. Sure, we ate our share of treats and processed foods, but we didn’t eat a ton of fast food or nothing but pre-packaged meals. We had family dinner almost every night, and you were expected to be there unless it was cleared with mom or dad ahead of time. I packed a lunch all through school preferring food from home over the cafeteria food in high school. I started swimming competitively in 5th grade and continued through most of high school. (I quit my senior year.) Even after quitting I was still fairly active. Through high school I maintained a weight around 135 – 140lbs. (I never really weighed myself, but I remember 135lb being the weight on my original driver’s license.)

Because of the lessons and examples of good eating that were instilled in my growing up, I managed to limit weight gain through college. (The fact that I wasn’t really a drinker probably helped too.) I survived two years of dorm food. I made a lot of pre-packaged convenience foods (I probably should have bought stock in Hamburger Helper.), but I still cooked most of the meals I ate when I lived off campus. Of course, my activity levels were pretty much limited to walking to and from classes/ campus. There were no formal “work-outs.” I probably gained somewhere in the realm of 10 – 15lbs during college. And I actually lost weight during my last semester while I was student teaching. Between being on my feet all day, not having time to snack out of boredom, and regularly working out with my mom after school, I could definitely feel my pants getting looser. I never weighed myself at the time, but if I had to guess, I probably graduated college (in May 2007) around 150 -155lbs.

After graduation is when the true weight gain started. I got an office job in downtown Chicago. The completely sedentary job combined with the unlimited access to tasty, no-good-for-you food added up quickly. Again, I never really weighed myself until I started the weight loss process, but I expect I was getting dangerously close to the 200lb mark. I was nearing a size 16 and well into the XL range on top. Rather than eating breakfast at home, I would regularly stop and grab McDonald’s or Panera or Corner Bakery for breakfast. I still packed lunch at least 50% of the time, but there were plenty of days I would forego my packed lunch in favor of grabbing lunch out with co-workers. I’d often get off the train starving and stop for a “snack” (usually in the form of a McDonald’s double cheeseburger) on the ride home. I’d end up eating dinner shortly after getting home. (I still lived with my parents, and mom was still making family dinner.)

I joined SparkPeople in August of 2008. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you where I found out about the site. I think it might have been LiveJournal. However, I was a really sporadic and inactive user until January 2009. In January, I started joining teams and making SparkFriends. Through the course of 2009, I lost about 30lbs. I started eating better. I started exercising regularly. I took up running using the Couch to 5K program. In October 2009, I ran my first 5K with (and thanks to the encouragement of) my fellow Chicago Sparker Sarah (Team_Sarah). My first race was an amazing race coming in under 30 minutes. This race is actually still my 5K PR. I was also down to 158lbs in October 2009. I also started a healthy living blog in October 2009. I began focusing on actual nutrition more (rather than just calories consumed), and eating real, whole foods. I started cooking more from scratch and eating fewer and fewer processed foods. I ran more races. I met more SparkFriends.

But let’s back-track a couple months to August. At the end of August of 2009, I closed on and moved into my first home with my boyfriend of 6 years. Looking back, this is really where things started to disintegrate for me. I was still eating pretty healthy. I was still running. But I was becoming less and less happy. The more unhappy I became, the less focused I was on my healthy lifestyle. I was running less and less. My boyfriend’s bad eating habits and incredibly sedentary lifestyle were starting to rub off on me. I was still hanging on by a thread, but just barely. Truthfully, I think the only thing that kept my healthy lifestyle together at all was all the time I’d spent on SparkPeople earlier that year: the lessons I’d learned, the habits I’d built, and the people I’d met both online and in the “real” world. I was really absent from SparkPeople, and my blogging was limited. I spent a lot of time considering the things: people’s motivations, the way people make life changes, and many of the general “life lessons” I’d learned from Spark. In May of 2010, I broke up with my boyfriend. This was a major life event for me. As I mentioned, we’d been together for 6 years. It was hard. I struggled. I spent a lot of time going out. Being home alone was painful. It gave me too much time to think – to agonize over my decision. I went out with friends – for dinner, for drinks, for sitting around doing nothing but not alone. Not being alone also took running out of the equation for me (expect for the times I would meet up with Sarah to run after work.) I couldn’t handle that much alone time. I tried to get my healthy lifestyle back together as a means of "recovery," but I wasn't in the right place mentally to be successful. After a couple months, I started to get it back together (mentally) largely due to new close friendships with my friend Nik and my SparkFriend Laura (LLBean75).

Oh, and despite all of this turmoil, in August 2010, I ran/ walked my first half marathon. The weather was hot and humid and disgusting. I was horribly under-trained. I was stressed about being under-trained. I was panicking about not being able to finish. I had to force myself to even show up. I finished though. And I did it in 3 hours. Not too shabby given the circumstances. Finishing the half marathon also helped spark me back into action.

I gained back about 15lbs over the course of 2010, but it was still an incredibly important year in my journey. 2010 was the year this journey really became about gaining rather than losing: gaining confidence, gaining self-awareness, gaining perspective.

So where am I now?

Well, I’m happy to report that over all I’m in a much better place personally. Nik and I started dating in October 2010, and I couldn’t be happier about it. He encourages me to get out and run. We sit down every week and plan dinners together. He goes grocery shopping with me. Laura is one of my best friends. We rarely go more than a day or two without chatting. She is the ying to my yang and a constant source of motivation, inspiration, and general awesomeness. I’m more happy with all aspects of my life, and I’m slowly taking actions to change the areas I’m not happy with. But as we all know, major change doesn’t happen overnight.

On the weight loss side I’m getting there again. I’ve started a food journal (pen and paper – I’m so old school) in which I track my food and fitness as well as the details – why I’m eating, if I’m hungry, how my work-out went, etc. I've finally found the method of tracking that works best for me. I’ve been plugging all that information into SP. Food has never been the big struggle for me though. My real challenge has always been to get my butt moving. I’m working on re-building a solid fitness routine. I’ve definitely has set-backs, but I think I’m finally getting it back together little by little.

As for my ultimate weight loss goal, I still hope to get to between 135 – 140lbs. I’m not sure if that’s a realistic goal given the only time I maintained that weight was when I was busting my butt on swim team, but we’ll see when I get there. The exact number isn’t as important to me as the feelings that go along with being healthy and active. But I do still have a “right now” goal, and that is to be in the area of 150lbs by the end of July when Nik and I are going on a cruise!

So that’s my story. And you know what, I’m really glad I decided to delete all my old content and start from scratch. Just writing this out – taking a look at where I’ve been – has helped me focus on where it is I’m going. I hope you can find a little bit of inspiration in my story as well.

Member Since: 8/26/2008

Fitness Minutes: 14,420

My Goals:
I have a list of 101 things to accomplish by April 28, 2013, but my number one goal is to live a healthy, happy life.

I do have a goal weight of 135 - 140, but that is less important to me than an overall physically and mentally healthy lifestyle.

My Program:

Personal Information:
My name is Stina, formally, Kristina. I'm 26, and from the Chicago suburbs. I spend most of my time with my boyfriend Nik, my dog Maxwell, and my cat Sgt. Pepper. (Bonus points if you can figure out the inspiration for my pets' names.)

Other Information:

Reading: Specials

Watching:Prison Break Season 1

Listening to: Rihanna - Loud

Blogging at

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  • v BLINK1217
    ** Welcome to the Done Girls team!! **
    4434 days ago
  • v FIREWIFE9900
    Welcome to being DONE Girl!!! emoticon
    4434 days ago
    Hello! Sending you some sunshine and a smile :)

    Have a fabulous day!
    4434 days ago
    Hey! Just saw one of your comments on the message boards and wanted to add my two cents! You'd said that you had a problem with working out - have faith that you'll get there! I used to HATE IT! I hated it so much that I would actually eat minimum calories and change all my eating rather than actually have to exercise. I started on the treadmill at home, watching TV episodes while working out, and I swear I STILL counted every single second, and hated each one!

    And then..... I found spinning! Of course, everyone is different, but for me, spinning is IT. I never ever would have believed it, but now I actually get cranky if I have to miss a class, and I look forward to them soooo much. Sometimes I realize that I'm actually getting excited about spinning, and barely even recognize myself

    So - have faith that you will eventually find what you love!!
    (p.s. have you tried putting on some awesome music and shakin' it in your own bedroom? That's always been my favourite... plus I think body confidence is improved by a little narcissism :D

    Keep sparking!
    4650 days ago
  • v SWEETNESS0721
    Welcome to sparkpeople!!! Best of luck on your weight loss journey! :) Just stay focused and you will reach your goals soon enough. If you drink at least 8 cups of water, stay within your calories, stay active, and get involved with your teams, you will succeed. Also, I'm a leader of a few teams, hope join the teams. If you need anything, let me know!

    Remember: YOU CAN DO IT!!!


    Team Leader of VS Angels Team, SP Hotties, Carmen Electra, Leaving 110-ville, and Friends Fans.
    emoticon emoticon
    4722 days ago
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