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Saturday, November 16, 2013

...can be a real bitch sometimes.

I keep having to adjust my weightloss goal due to plateaus, and every time, I adjust it to the *closest* to my original goal that Sparkpeople will allow me. I think 'Oh, and I'll just do a bit of extra exercise and I'll catch up' - even though I *know* this only works so far. It gets me trapped in places where I'm exercising like a crazy person or under-eating, both of which ultimately hamper my goals. And yet I've done it a few times over the past year.

Over the past year, I've made more progress towards a healthy weight than I have in decades, far more than I ever expected to see. But once it started coming off, I got greedy. I fixated on achieving a certain point as though then I could point to it and say 'there, I did it, are you happy now?' I desperately wanted to have lost 100 pounds by the end of 2013. (Although in the back of my head, I *really* wanted to lose 108 and get down to a healthy BMI. Still by the end of the year - as though that arbitrary calendar milestone was the key. Not the achievement itself.)

Today at my weigh-in, my weight didn't shift at all, and I was so disappointed. I'd been working hard, I'd been tracking ... I felt robbed, again. I blamed my boss and the staff lunch we'd all had. I blamed myself for not working out hard enough last weekend, even though I had a fantastic weekend, really enjoyed myself, and made great progress towards another major goal of mine. There may even have been some frustrated tears ....

And then I remembered how damn far I've come in the past year. How much more I know about nutrition and health. How instead of being the one pulled reluctantly off the couch I'm now the one suggesting a walk to my friends. How I go to the gym every morning before sunrise because I want to be stronger ... and I decided to suck it up, face reality, and stop crying about it.

I thought about the next 6 weeks, realistically. My birthday. My best friend's birthday and the birthday of another close friend. The whole Yule season, with its staff parties, family gatherings, bake sales, and all the other roadblocks to healthy eating. The days when I won't be able to fit in the gym, or it'll be closed. The trip my best friend and I are planning to take to Orlando.... Almost all of these are things I should enjoy, moments to savour with friends and family - or unavoidable obligations - and I didn't want to be begrudging every bite or bemoaning every lost moment.

So I've adjusted my goal for the end of the year once again, but this time it's to accommodate a much slower weightloss goal. (Slightly less than a pound a week ... not quite a maintenance diet, but it looks far more comfortable and achievable.) And I adjusted my fitness tracker calories burned to assume I go to the gym one day less a week, because that's far more likely than the alternative. And I breathed a sigh of relief.

Do I still want to lose the total 108? Not even a question, but there was no healthy way I was really going to lose 30 pounds in the next 6 weeks (or even the 18 that was my 'adjusted goal'). Can I ramp back up in January instead? Obviously, yes.

I need to get back into my early mindset, where the goal was - IS - to establish a good quality of life. If I'm too busy losing weight to enjoy celebrations with my friends, then I'm not doing that. Throughout the holiday season, I'll still be tracking, still be exercising, and I'll still use the tools I've learned through Sparkpeople to make the healthiest decisions possible. But I think that, for me, the next six weeks are going to be maintenance, small loss, rather than 'DO IT NOW".

Hopefully, a bit of a rest from the pressure will mean renewed energy in the new year.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUSYGRANNY5 11/16/2013 4:19PM

    Keep on keeping on....change will come...

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ROCKYCPA 11/16/2013 4:09PM

    Goals sometimes do need to be adjusted but slow and easy will get you to your goal weight. You might need to look at what you are eating - sometimes it isn't the amount of calories that makes the difference but what you eat. You can reach your goal!

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Helping a friend

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One thing I've really come to appreciate about sparkpeople is that it's not entirely about weightloss. It's about overall health and well-being. Any goal we want to achieve, we can approach using SparkPeople's tools and system, and have a decent chance of reaching that goal. This blog isn't really for me; it's for a friend of mine who is considering starting up her own business, and needs a helping hand getting things going.

My friend - call her Aurora, she's always liked the name - is a Canadian dance instructor, in the process of achieving her Royal Academy of Dance certification to enter students into exams. She also teaches pilates. In both jobs, due to her present training, she's had days where she had to find substitute teachers for her classes, or to cancel classes if she couldn't find substitutes. And that's where her idea comes in. I don't have all the technical details, but she's hit on a way that should help fitness and dance instructors more easily cover their classes. Right now she's doing a feasibility study, and she needs a few more people to fill out her survey before she can proceed.

The people I've met here are helpful, good natured, and thoughtful. So when she began to tell me about the difficulty she's had in getting the last 25 instructors she needs to call the survey complete, I immediately thought of the Sparkpeople community. Aurora has tapped all her resources in her hometown and called on all the other instructors she knows, but she needs a bit more feedback before she can call it complete. If you're a Canadian fitness, or dance, teacher - or if you own a dance studio or gym in Canada - it would be amazingly helpful if you could pop over to and fill out the survey. It'll only take a few minutes, and you'll be helping out a very good friend of mine. You'll also be entered to win a $25 gift card.

If you're not an instructor yourself, I figure the odds are good you know one or more. Do you think you can mention to them? It'll help a good person get one step closer to achieving one of her goals!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MTRACHEL 10/22/2013 10:31PM

    Dang, I wish I could help, but I'm not an instructor and I'm American. But I totally agree with you about all the other benefits of Spark People. Good luck to your friend!

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One Year of Sparkpeople

Thursday, September 12, 2013

When I joined Sparkpeople one year ago today, it was only for the food tracker - I wasn't planning to change my diet, I just wanted to have a convenient place to keep track of what I ate because my doctor was concerned. I wasn't planning to get *any* more exercise than walking to and from work would give me, either. Although I *wanted* to lose weight, I didn't have any kind of defined goal, and I wouldn't have admitted to most people that I was anything less-than-comfortable as a 5'2", 238-pound woman. Admitting it would have been giving in, somehow.

One of the very first things that happened was that my nutrition tracker showed I wasn't eating enough. (And what I was eating was mostly crap, but I'll get to that.) I bumped that up, because I'd have been incredibly depressed to be a fat anorexic (no offence to anyone who suffers from this eating disorder intended), and that was how my average meals would look. (Think a can of Coke for breakfast, another for lunch with two slices of pizza, and a small TV dinner for supper - net calories something like 900, and nutritional value pretty much zilch). It was alarming, and I knew I needed to change something - to eat better.

I started cooking at least one proper meal a day - usually supper - and since there were the protein/carb/fat target numbers, I tried to at least get a bit closer to hitting those. I felt a bit better, but didn't pay much attention beyond that.

Around that time, I had to shift the walk I usually took to work (a straight point-to-point line) to one that was longer, because there just wasn't enough daylight. I didn't want to be walking alone in the dark, I needed well-lit streets ... I started going a bit further, twice a day.

I didn't define a goal until after Thanksgiving 2012. (I'm Canadian, so this was in early October - about a month after I joined). At Thanksgiving dinner, I got into an argument with a woman who was insisting stomach stapling was 'the only reasonable way' to lose 100 pounds within a year. That night, I went back home and defined a target: lose 100 pounds by October 2013. I didn't tell anyone except the people here, because I'd tried to 'diet' before, and failed, and I didn't want a public failure.

Now I had a goal, and the target was *just* within reach. If I worked for it. I still had to eat more than I had been (though not as much as I would have needed for maintenance of my 200+ body). I found a mileage-tracking app and began to track my daily walks.

Every change I made was gradual. I went a little further in my walks, then tried to walk a bit faster. I made drinking more water and fewer sodas a priority (which meant I needed to eat *yet more* real food). And the pounds started to come off - not at the smooth 2-lbs-a-week rate I'd hoped, but also not at the 'no matter what I do, nothing changes' rate I'd seen before.

One year on Sparkpeople has not caused me to lose 100 pounds (even if I define that as next month's target, I won't reach that goal). But I have lost 68 pounds as of last week's weigh-in. I've dropped nearly 8 sizes in my clothing. And I have a lot more energy.

My 2 km walk to work has become an 8-10K walk/jog each morning (I still take the direct route home in the morning). Even while on vacation, I found myself restless when I didn't get some exercise in, and I ended up seeking it out. I haven't had a can of soda since last January, and I don't even miss them any more, when I used to be a caffeine addict! I regularly get 5-7 servings of veggies and fruits every day. ... when I look at my habits now compared to what they were a year ago, I don't really recognize myself.

Yes, I'm not at my goal yet. I believe I can reach it, now - I just need to be patient and keep plugging. There have been frustrations - the month where I didn't lose a single pound, despite doing the same level of activity and eating, for example - and fears - the loss of self that comes with significant change. But it's never been impossible, and I've never felt like giving up.

I don't know where I'll be this time next year. But if things keep going the way they are, I'll probably be running marathons or something equally unthinkable. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FEARLESSNOW 10/16/2013 10:48PM

    Amazing blog! Congratulations.

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ABBIE0224 9/14/2013 11:19AM

    Great blog, very inspiring!!!!

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NAYKNITS 9/12/2013 6:24PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

What an amazing year you have had!!! So happy for you emoticon

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VK2Z10 9/12/2013 4:57PM

    You are doing a FANTASTIC job in making gradual changes. I have been a spark member for over 3 years and have yet to make any of my changes stick long term. so, keep it up. the # on the scale is just that, a #. it doesn't define who you are as a person.

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Forty Pounds In ... and Frightened.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Since I joined SparkPeople, I've lost 40 lbs. And on Saturday, when I saw that scale read UNDER 200 lbs (for the first time in over a decade), I was delighted. Absolutely delirious with joy. 10 lbs more lost will put me at the weight I was when I graduated high-school (and half-way to my goal of a healthy weight). I'm well on target, and a lot of these healthy habits are becoming automatic.

So, naturally, on Saturday & Sunday I went over my calorie goal. On Sunday I didn't even exercise. My mood dropped dramatically on Sunday, too, and I realized that my big *win* - which it still is - has put me in a strange emotional place. During my walk this morning, I realized ... I'm terrified.

Not because I don't think I'll reach my goal - I know I have the tools and determination to reach my healthy goal weight. But my mental picture of myself is slipping, and that's disturbing. I've been the funny fat girl for a really long time, and that's all a lot of people have ever seen. Who am I if I let go of that social identity?

In a strange way, my weight has protected me. Certainly, society likes to criticize heavy people, and there's a lot of judgement and size-shaming ... and yet, the amount of bullying I faced in high school decreased as my weight increased. I'm intelligent and introverted - when I *looked* the same, more or less, as everyone else, those were the aspects the bullies attacked. Those were personal, aggressive assaults on my self-identity. Compared to that, a bit of shoving and a few names about my size were trivial and easy to overlook. I built my armour a bag of chips at a time.

Now I realize I'm in the process of taking off that armour, and it's hit me how vulnerable that can make me. Instead of being inside this 'fat suit' of protective padding, it's starting to be me facing the world, and that really frightens me.

I'm hoping that some of my SparkFriends will be able to offer advice, suggestions, or other ways to deal with this fear, because I don't want this to derail me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOLAINSC 3/27/2013 1:06PM

    I'll still love you when you are a skinny, healthy girl. Hope that helps. I labeled this segment of my journey as "Lola's Adventures in One-derland," ( I didn't like Two-terville much at all) and it looks like it will be a most marvelous ride, much more so if you will accompany me on this adventure.
But 'tis true, it is also easier for me to face denigration for my weight--because I am fat and I know it, I denigrate myself for it, and it is an outside thing--than to be denigrated for things of my heart and soul, like my values, worth, intelligence, and competence. I'd rather be insulted for what I look like than who I am.

Comment edited on: 3/27/2013 1:08:04 PM

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OJ_2_OK 3/26/2013 9:09PM

    now you'll be the funny fit woman in the room. To be honest, I'm totally there with you. I just realized today that I feel "skinny" for the first time. I've started to buy new clothes and really look at myself as the "skinny" girl. However, to take some of the fear out of it, I try to look at is as more of the HEALTHY girl. The girl that LOVES life. the girl that loves life so much that she takes care of her body because she loves that too.

Focus on how you feel. And how you felt before. You won't want to go back.

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MINDY502 3/26/2013 10:47AM

    I think we all can relate on some point or another having to deal with this as that is what we all are doing on here is losing weight and it does make us look different and more vulnerable to these thoughts. At least you are recognizing them and please dont let them get your derailed because it is easy to do. You have worked to hard to get where you are now. I am doing this all over again because I put my weight back on and now having to do it again. So find support and embrace the new you because you are worth it, we are all worth it. You can do it!!

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LOOKINGUP2012 3/26/2013 10:21AM

    Lots of skinny people have the funny guy facade to protect themselves. I hope as you get to know yourself, you will find people who love you for who you really are. emoticon

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CANDOK1260 3/26/2013 9:44AM

    emoticon i true as sabtoge my weight lose you need to blog and get through the center of your self esteem you can do this i have

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SPARKCHANTAL 3/26/2013 9:05AM

    oh this is a common problem! we will always choose the familiar over the unknown, regardless of benefits we could reap.

at the moment i'm into qigong, and I came across a video on youtube explaining some of the teachings. one 'master' was showing the paths of energy flow in the body, then he said that fat cells do not transport energy very well (nice way of putting it), and that it would be a good idea to get rid of excess fat... not to make you vulnerable, but to make you stronger and more energetic.
this 'wall of protection' does not do the job it's meant to! it may feel like a 'comfort blanket', but in reality it's a cop-out. an excuse to run away from things we fear.

go slow, give yourself time to get used to your new situation, step by step. at your own pace. if you get a panic attack, then don't push things, just try to maintain a while, before moving on. listen to and respect your body, it can tell you things you are not aware of.

emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/26/2013 9:05:43 AM

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SLENDERELLA61 3/26/2013 6:31AM

    Consider losing weight very slowly -- maybe like a half a pound a week -- at least for a couple months. I'm thinking that it will just take time until you can wrap your head around your new identity and are feeling comfortable with getting smaller. I "only" lost 80 pounds and I did it in 2 phases. I lost 60, gained back 25, then five years later lost 50+ more. I was in my late 50's for the second phase and had been overweight/obese for over 5 decades. It was a huge change in my identity in so many ways.

I recommend clothes shopping -- really looking in the mirror -- to get a handle on how the outside of you is changing. Even if you don't buy much or even nothing, just keep trying on things and find your style and who you want to project. Come to see yourself as that new person. The blogging and journaling is a great tool to deal with the internal issues. Will your personality change as you lose weight and give up the "protective padding?" Maybe some. I think it helped me to be older and fairly settled.

These are some crucial issues. Best wishes for working through them thoroughly and coming through a happier, healthier, freer person!

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WENDYSPARKS 3/25/2013 6:02PM


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FLORIDASUN 3/25/2013 5:55PM

    I so 'get' your blog and your fear of seeing a new you in the mirror. I come at this challenge from a different perspective because I've pretty much always been the skinny minny until my mid to late 40's. I noticed just as you said that people were much more interested, accepting, and open to the skinny me than the fatty me. As I gained weight I faded into the background and felt kind of invisible.

I'd say that you sit down with yourself and have a serious talk about the fact that you aren't striving to be skinny...but you aRE striving to be healthy. Big difference between the two..there are plenty of fat skinnys out there. Maybe if you can wrap your head around this new perspective you will know that you aren't on this journey to a particular number on the scale you are on it to save your life and love yourself throughout the process.

Okay...five bucks for the little counsel session...smirk...just joking! emoticon

I'm here for you...cheering you on the ENTIRE journey! emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/25/2013 5:56:23 PM

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MOMTOCONNOR2003 3/25/2013 4:24PM

    I always self sabatoge when I get close to my goal. I don't know what it is. I guess it is kind of like what you are thinking. I have been this way for so long I do not know how not to be. I am at 188 and I have 45 pounds left to go. My advice is make a new Identitiy. I always tell my kids you can be anything you want to be when you grow up so I tell you, you can be anything you want to be when you are skinny. You can be the funny skinny person or the all serious skinny person. It is all up to you. But face it you will be skinny!

Keep up the great work!

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PORTIAWILLIS 3/25/2013 3:44PM

    I understand completely what you mean. I have sabotaged my weight loss many times. However I was not as fortunate as you to recognise it till i was past the point of no return. I am so proud of you because you recognise and have the tools to stop this before it gets out of hand. If you continue to journal your thoughts, eat right and exercise you will win this battle. Good luck


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