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Give Me Back My Spark!

Monday, April 07, 2014

I now know why this site is called SparkPeople. It's because when it's working and you're successfully achieving goals and losing weight, you've got that "thing," that SPARK, that accounts for so much more than just simple motivation. It's a drive to keep going and keep pushing beyond anything else - beyond the small set-backs, or random life happenings that can otherwise derail a person who doesn't have "it." It's the thing that makes you push through the pain, muddle through the negative thoughts, and buoy your triumphs. It's the thing that makes YOU the number one focus in your life and can act as a friend in times of loneliness, can make you feel full even when you're bored or tired or stressed, and can actually suggest appealing alternatives to unhealthy habits that would otherwise sound crazy or like too much work.

This winter absolutely stole my Spark. In fact - I know it stole it from many other people too having talked to them.But I don't think it was just winter for me. I actually think I lost my Spark a long time ago, and I'd give just about anything to have it back right now.

If I really think about it, I lost my Spark before I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K in the fall, I lost it before I started training for the Triathlon last year, I actually lost it long before LAST winter. I lost it the minute I crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon in 2012.

I've spent some time today reading through some of my blogs from the Marathon until now and it's like a feeling of foreboding creeping through all of them. My jubilant race report from that day was followed by my Week 27 blog in which I talked about the surreal feeling of having completed this huge thing that took up 9 whole months of my life and the depression that happened after I realized that life goes on without it taking up so much space anymore. That blog was then followed by another talking about how hard it was to get back on track with my eating, followed by a very honest "When Things Fall Apart" www.sparkpeople.com/mypa

A blog in which I basically stated the fact that I had become a changed person, I was - at that point - unable to resurrect the self that I was before taking on the Marathon challenge, and for all intents and purposes I no longer had my Spark. That was November 6, 2012. I've been struggling for a year and a half now without my Spark!

So what do I do? I actually don't know. My life is VASTLY different now than it was in April of 2010 when I was 313 pounds and crying for change. I am a (relatively) healthy individual. Yes, I still have a lot of weight to lose, but there are not many unhealthy 200 pound women who can just go out and run 6 miles without too much thought. My blood pressure is still fine, as are all the rest of my vitals. I have a different work lifestyle that I'm still getting accustomed to, but it's manageable. And I have trained for a number of endurance events.

But therein lies the thing that tipped me off to having lost my Spark, and having lost it a long time ago. I didn't train for the Triathlon like I did for the Marathon. And I'm certainly not training for the Tough Mudder (in 5 weeks!) like I trained for either of those two events. Bottom line - I just don't care! And that's awful. It makes me so sad. I lost the need to prove to myself that I can do anything. I CAN do anything. I already know that. There's no excitement in it anymore, no anticipation. I invested SO much money in Tri gear thinking that it would be a lifelong investment in annual triathlons, possibly even training for a Half Ironman, or more. But to be perfectly honest - at this point, I really don't give a crap about my bike, or my wetsuit, or putting in the effort required to do any of that stuff.

So did the Marathon really ruin me? Was it SO hard and SO taxing on my Spark every single day for 9 months to get to that place of accomplishment that it burnt itself right out? Maybe it did. Maybe I wasn't ready for that challenge just yet. Or maybe I deemed the Marathon to be my ULTIMATE achievement. And when it was over, I just full-out quit. I did what I set out to accomplish - I lost (over) 100 pounds and I ran a Marathon. End of story. But it wasn't the end of the story - it just felt like it was long enough to shock my system and blow out the pilot light. So who has a match? Anyone?

I half-assed my way through the Tri. Sure, I trained for it. And I finished well. But I only did what I absolutely had to, and I stopped running after the second mile because it got hard. I could have finished so much better and I knew it. I felt guilty about it then and I still do today. I knew I had more in the tank and I could have gone further. But my push was gone. That thing that drove me to go one step further, one mile harder. The thing that would have made me persevere through the 6 mile run regardless of the weather or my exhaustion. I just didn't have it anymore. And I don't have it right now. I'm 5 weeks out from a major race and there is NOTHING that will get me out of bed in the morning to work out at all. I'm simultaneously terrified that Mudder might kill me, and not at all scared about any of it. I'm just going to do it like I do everything else. It will hurt and it will suck but I'll still do it. At this rate though, I won't be doing it very well. "As long as you finish" has gone a step too far with me. My drive to compete against myself and to get better and better is broken.

Marathon training also invited the food back. I had to consume so much more every day to match the number of calories that I was burning every week, so away went all my good eating habits and staying in any particular daily range. I discovered quickly that I could consume pretty much anything I wanted and not gain. But I wasn't losing either. I was stalled and had lost all momentum on my original journey to lose the weight, so the Marathon became my one and only focus - the thing that I had to do to feel successful. And when I achieved that success, the training went away and the food stuck around. But my life these days will never involve running over 10 miles a day. I don't like it enough, and I just don't have the time to put in those kinds of hours on the road anymore. But do I have room and time to consume over 2500 calories a day? You bet I do. I have never had a problem going to great lengths to achieve a food fix.

So what do I do? How do I get my Spark back? I'm in a tricky place of knowing exactly what it is that I have lost and what I want to regain. But attempting to "fake it" is not winning me any points with myself and usually ends in self-sabotaging activities because "I should know better." (The quotes are honestly how I'm talking to myself) I just don't really know how I got it to begin with in 2010 - it kind of just happened. And it was the happiest ride that I've ever been on for a solid year and a half. But my priorities have changed. The things that I want to accomplish now are different than the things I wanted to accomplish in then, and I can't take another year and a half of my life to shift the focus back to me and only me like I did before. If I'm going to go on another ride, there are other people and things that need to come with me this time.

I am open to suggestions. I just know that I'm tired of not caring anymore. I want to care! I want to be excited again. I want my damn Spark back!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I wish I had found my Spark again when I was where you are. Unfortunately, mine led to pain and illness and injury and now I'm back looking at where I started last time and just wishing I could get back to there. We'll get there! I have to believe we'll find our way again!
    2621 days ago
    it happens! i've lost and found my spark several times over- i have no idea where the heck it goes or why it chooses to return. for me, i got tired several years ago of continually training harder and longer (for tri's), and maintaining the same weight and physique. i hit a point where i realized i could not train any more hours in the week, so something had to change. enter the weight room. i started following a 12 week body building program and it was totally different from anything i'd done before. it gave me a fresh focus, a new spark, and changes in my physique that i'd been thinking i could achieve through cardio alone (i now know better). after taking a few years off i've finally returned to tri training- not to compete, not for the medals, but for the friends i missed and for the sweaty workouts i missed.
    it may just be about finding a new interest, a new challenge. there's so much out there that can challenge your body and your determination. have fun with it! best of luck to you!
    2642 days ago
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    I know the feeling Jenn... when I finished my 70.3, it was the start of a long downward spiral that ended with me hobbling over the line of HM#2 after the big tri. I was done and injured. Like you, I had stopped losing a long time ago and the only thing I had to be proud of was me raking in medals. now that is mostly gone and also, like you said, the food never went away.

    I learned alot of sloppy habits in the name of training. I havent been on my bike since last August and have slowly began running again after a LONG break. and I gained about 15 lbs in the process. I took about 10 of it back off but I am trying to get my groove back.

    I just want you to know that you are not alone. I think this is more common than most will care to admit.
    2669 days ago
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    When I think of this question, because I think you know, it happens to all of us, I think back to what originally got and kept me going. For me, fortunately and a bit unfortunately, I thought losing the weight would bring me something I was missing in my life. I thought the weight was holding me back from having a boyfriend. I lost the weight 4 years ago, only really put back on 10 pounds of 40 pounds lost, but guess what, still no boyfriend. So, then I really started asking myself what was weighing me down, the physical or the brain weight. For me it was the brain weight, and I started to focus on that more then losing weight.

    I think you said it above, maybe your focused changed, you CAN do anything, and it doesn't matter what the scales says, because you believe in yourself. Although, I only know you from following you on Spark, you have so much self confidence and drive, you date, you get out and do things, you made this great leap into being a business owner, so does it matter what the scale says? Do you love you? That is what really matters right?

    Shedding more physical may be great, but take a look at the why, and if you are looking for the answer in the bag chips, you know you won't find it there.

    I have every faith you will get your Spark back....
    2672 days ago
    Oh My Words!! You just took the words right out of my head and heart! I was literally thinking about Spark People today as I drove to work and how long it's been since I Sparked and how dim my Spark seems and how I should come and post here and read some blogs. I sat down at my computer and your update appeared in my email. As I read it I could have cried!! It was exactly what I've been thinking, how I've been feeling, what I've been missing!! Thank you for your eloquent words. I am going to try to write a post - I doubt it will be as eloquent lol. It's been a long long time but we will both find our Spark again. I know we will. Just being here - reading and writing - we've taken our first baby steps back to being active Spark People again. And that's a very good first step. Best to you - I will look for more posts from you to see how you are progressing.


    Big Hugs!!


    2672 days ago
    I used to blog about this exact topic - gaining and losing the spark! I lost mine a long time ago. :( I recently had a baby so for a long time I wasn't even thinking about it, but I am now and I want it back! Let us know if you figure it out!
    2672 days ago
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    I haven't accomplished as much as you have but my story is a bit similar in that I got my first real spark when I challenged myself to train for a h.m. For me, the passion..the spark was all about proving to myself, that I could do it.

    I soon lost my 'spark'' after I completed my h.m. But I thought maybe I just needed another structured program. So I trained for another h.m but it wasnt the same. The challenge wasnt there and neither was my spark.

    Then I joined a weight training group and jumped into an extreme training regimen...at least it was for me. For the next 3 mos, I felt that 'spark' again and saw amazing results but soon lost interest when the challenge turned into a tedious work out that took up a lot of my time.

    Since then, I've regained 50 of the 70 lbs I've lost... managed to lose 20 and have 30 left to go. It's been tough to say the least without that 'spark' but I'm sure I'll find it again and you will too. All the best! emoticon

    2673 days ago
    You are so me! I began in 2010 too and the first two year were great, the last two years I have regained 50 pounds and I start and stop, start and stop. This week, my goal is to just track one good thing. Today, I did not eat a doughnut. A far cry from where I was but the only step I can make now.... carry on, my friend. You are not alone.
    2673 days ago
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