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Why I Spark.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

I spark because maintenance is hard. I spark because the biggest hurdle to recovery and healthy habits for a lifetime is "giving up" and deciding that maintenance is "too hard". I spark because I'm human.

There is this phenomenon of weight loss. When you reach the mythical land of "thin" you're tempted to think you're done. When you reach the mythical land of "thin" other people who are still struggling sometimes think you have all the answers. Which, in case you were wondering... you don't.

I spark to avoid the trap of self-condemnation. I spark to remind myself this is worth it. I Spark because when I check my e-mail there are encouraging words from others. I Spark because I can read when others are struggling and offer encouraging words of my own. I Spark because it offers a community of experience, strength, hope, and acceptance. I Spark... because it works!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

To all my kindred spirits... Spark on!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GROEDER 4/4/2011 8:08AM

    You summed it up perfectly!!!!
It works because of people like you who are out there helping us all!!!

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WATERMELLEN 4/4/2011 8:04AM

    Maintenance IS hard -- and I'm glad you're here doing that hard work of maintaining right along beside me!!

This is a terrific community of like-minded people: so glad that we've found it!!

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PENNYAN45 4/4/2011 1:00AM

    ...and I am so glad that you Spark!

You are a voice of persistence that is real.

You are intelligent and honest.

You are lighting up the path ahead.

Thank you.


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SUNNY1432 4/3/2011 8:36PM

    How True!! Now if I can just get to maintenance I would be happy!!
emoticon emoticon BLOG!!

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BUGGYS 4/3/2011 5:37PM

    Sparking makes us honest with ourselves...another great blog, Barb! emoticon

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MSLZZY 4/3/2011 2:06PM

    So very true! HUGS!

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SUNNY332 4/3/2011 1:44PM

    Maintenance is where the real work begins. Hang in there and know we appreciate you continuing with Spark.

Hugs, Sunny

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 4/3/2011 1:05PM

    This is why we all love SparkPeople!

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    VERY good blog! I plan to continue to spark on when I've reached my goal, too! emoticon

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KASEYCOFF 4/3/2011 11:22AM

    Ditto! 'cept I'm not at maintenance yet, lol...

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ANDI571 4/3/2011 10:46AM

    Spot on!!!!!

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SAMI199 4/3/2011 10:35AM

    I agree-I had lost a significant amount of weight years ago,only to gain it all back plus more!
I did not have Sparks then-But I do now-thank goodsness. My Sparkfriends are a blessing!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MNTWINSGAL 4/3/2011 10:32AM

    Amen, Barb!

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DEBRITA01 4/3/2011 10:24AM

    emoticonThis site is invaluable...truly a blessing! Keep Sparking... emoticon

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LJCANNON 4/3/2011 10:03AM

    There are days when~~even in Maintenance~~you are tempted to think 'One more helping won't matter'. But the truth is, it DOES matter. We make decisions every day that keep us on our Journey, whether we are still losing, or if we are Maintaining.
That is why I Keep On Sparking, and I think I always will.
emoticonAnd, No, being at our Goal Weight does make us 'Experts' nor does it mean we have all the answers.

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CONCHA77 4/3/2011 9:35AM

    "Spark On!"
Wouldn't want to be anywhere else on the journey. Keep on Sparking.

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REJ7777 4/3/2011 9:13AM

    I could relate to everything in your blog, except the part about being at maintenance. I don't want to think about where I'd be without SparkPeople and the support of my SparkFriends! emoticon

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LADYRH 4/3/2011 9:02AM

    emoticon We are all so lucky to have this site and the support it brings.

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Guiding principles

Friday, April 01, 2011

Some of you know I'm a self-help junkie... unfortunately with lousy follow-through, as a general rule. I'm not talking about the healthy habits thing just now, I'm talking about life in general.

I guess I could consider myself something of an absent-minded professor sort. My focus just isn't ON certain areas of life, until some event brings them into sharp focus. It was that way with the weight... I would focus on it for a period of time, and with great concentration and prioritization, it would come off. Then it would lose my interest and without some focus and priority, what would happen? Well, obviously, without the vigilance, the pounds would come back!

The same thing seems to happen with the clutter in my home, at my office, in my life. I am not paying attention, and then "company's coming" and I go nuts. I have long ceased trying to clean up for the kids, but still feel this when my siblings come to call. I just don't seem to be able to multitask as well as some folks I know.

So those of you who are looking at the progress photos on my page and saying "Wow, that's great"... there is a cost. And in my case the cost is that I'm maybe slipping in other areas. I have to wonder if I'll ever achieve that elusive "balance" before I die.

Enough whining! It's April! Wow, one month from today is that Half Marathon. But in the meantime, with the dog gone and kids out of the house, I'm thinking about goals and visions for the rest of my life... or at least for the next phase of my life.

And my current self-help book is all about organizing and the first point is to determine what the PURPOSE of the organizing effort is all about. (How Spark-like!) So... for the next few days, I'll be pondering that. I want my home to be functional and to support the life I desire without adding burdens. I know I need to keep these healthy habits, let's make sure the organization of my home supports that ongoing goal.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ARTSY_CANDICE 4/3/2011 10:51AM

    Get outta my head emoticon I am the same way!! We just have to keep trying! emoticon

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SAMI199 4/3/2011 1:22AM

    "A clean house is a sign of a broken computer."

Seriously-you should be doing the things that are important to YOU-if you need to de-clutter in order to feel good-then out it goes-either way -it 's a hard task to maintain perfect balance in life...

emoticon(Balance-lol) emoticon

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SUNNY332 4/2/2011 10:32PM

    Oh my goodness, my husband says I just "float along" until there is company company and I turn into the "cleaning nazi" so guess what - I relate totally to this post.

I am doing better but need to really make some "to do lists" and get on it with a little more passion come Monday.


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777GRACE 4/2/2011 3:55PM

    Hey, are writing my thoughts?
You sound like me!
I think when we get to heaven, we will finally get it right!

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CHRYS13 4/2/2011 1:30PM

    I really do know what you're writing of....I don't know when my functional home atmosphere left, but it's gone! When I come home from work now, I shake my head and am thankful that no one is coming over! I know that if I can de-clutter and reorganize, many other aspects of my life will also fall into place. I guess we pull-up our panties and begin (LOL)
Best wishes.....we can do this!

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MSLZZY 4/1/2011 5:59PM

    I can relate, sister! HUGS!

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ANDI571 4/1/2011 2:52PM

    I found out several years ago, when I was doing good on my eating, my spending goes out of control, and vice versa. I am trying to work on both of those areas. Not always an easy thing to do.

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REJ7777 4/1/2011 1:16PM

    I know what you mean about balance, sometimes I feel like a juggler trying to keep all those balls in the air! And every once in awhile... rather, pretty often, I drop one. There's no doubt that having an uncluttered, organized home helps in every area of life. I already read, "Cluttered house, cluttered mind". I have so much trouble decluttering! But I have to do it. I wish you as much success in your organizing as you've had in your weight loss! emoticon

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Another month comes to an end...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

and, in my case, that means progress photos! I continue the series of "a year ago" and "today" on the main page.

I'm about 40 pages from the end of the book that wanted to keep my attention this morning and I'll be reading it on the treadmill in a bit.

Today's reverie has to do with rewards and treats. When does a treat cease to be a treat? In my case, it's when the treat is a daily expectation. I was thinking about this in relation to, of all things, a box of Girl Scout Cookies.

I purchased this box of cookies on Sunday. Just one. And my current favorite, the Caramel Delights... they have three things going for them: chocolate, caramel, and coconut! Two cookies make a 140 calorie serving. Surprisingly, I have had exactly four cookies since that time. This is so un-me! Well, un-old-me, anyway.

But if I am careful... and remain spiritually fit, and use them ONLY as a special treat after my treadmill session... they should last me a while. My goal and my resolution is to do exactly that. Savor them and make them last.

Hold me to it, OK? emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ANDI571 4/2/2011 10:46AM

    I like your statement of, When does a treat cease to be a treat. That is so true. Years ago when I did so good, I could buy a candy bar, cut it into 4 or 5 pieces and it would last awhile. Then I started eating the whole candy bar with the expectation of wanting another one. That statement is spot on.

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    Good for you, and congrats! It's life, not jail. Far better to learn enjoy treats sensibly within the controlled environment of SP than to try to deal with them after we're maintaining! emoticon

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FITFABJENN 3/31/2011 9:15PM

    Absolutely! Those cookies are hard to resist, so good going!

Have an awesome April!

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MSLZZY 3/31/2011 9:08PM

    I may just do that! Here's to success! HUGS!

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SAMI199 3/31/2011 8:27PM

    You are a strong lady-I like the definition a treat not being an expectation.

emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 3/31/2011 8:16PM

    I am all for "bribes" in moderation -- such as my bag of Lindt 85% cocoa dark chocolate squares, which I keep in my locker at the gym to reward me for working out!!

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FYRCOP 3/31/2011 7:44PM

    This much closer to summer!

Be careful of the cookies... the one's you described used to be my favorite!

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Food and me... a vision for the rest of my life

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm not going to lie to anyone: I love food. Food of all sorts. Well, almost all. There aren't many foods I dislike.

But in my lifetime, I have misused food. Had I not misused food, I would not have reached my lifetime high weights. What's sad about the misuse of food is that often, there is no joy in its consumption: when I stuff food in to push emotions down, I do not enjoy its flavor, its texture, its aroma. I simply self-medicate with calories attached.

I'm sure there are some who will scratch their heads over these statements. And there are others who will nod knowingly. Those of us who have been there recognize the truth about the misuse of foods.

In the proper use of food, it's not just fuel. Food is a blessing and a joy, and should be. It's one of the pleasures of life. I have a vision of my relationship with food... the relationship I desire to have for the rest of my life. That vision is: to eat mindfully, to savor each bite, to have nothing completely forbidden from my diet but to be very careful about when and how much! To be conscious of my choices, that is the goal.

I recognize there will continue to be times when I reach for food to self-medicate. My goal for those times is awareness: if I am conscious that this is what I'm doing, I can make the choice to do so, or not. And if I choose to indulge, I can recover more quickly, without self-blame.

I like to quip that in the past nearly two years, I've been eating less but enjoying it more. That is also a truth. My vision for my relationship with food for the rest of my life is one of honesty, balance and enjoyment.

Here's to the joy in life including the enjoyment of our meals and snacks! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CONCHA77 3/30/2011 5:30PM

    Great Insight ;) I will have to keep it in mind next time I shove my food down.

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ANDI571 3/30/2011 1:59PM

    I've always said, There is no bad food, just bad choices. I do understand completely with the over medicating of food. When I have done my best in my weight loss efforts, is when I don't see food as a dangerous evil thing. When I just allow myself to enjoy it within the realms of what food is suppose to be, is when I can eat with enjoyment, and not gain weight.

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KALIGIRL 3/30/2011 1:13PM

    Isn't it grand we can add enjoyment to our healthy journey?
You serve as an inspiration!

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DEBRITA01 3/30/2011 1:13PM

    Nodding knowingly, also...Having a balanced relationship with food is what we all strive for. I like your vision... emoticon

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REJ7777 3/30/2011 1:03PM

    What an insightful blog about our relationship to food! "I've been eating less but enjoying it more." That is becoming my experience too, most of the time. I'm eating more mindfully and enjoying the experience so much more. emoticon

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TURTLETALK 3/30/2011 11:59AM

    This blog spoke to me more than any other you have written. My friends/family often ask me what is different during this weight loss attempt as compared to any other. I think you hit it on the head. I have learned to eat less and enjoy it more. I no longer get satisfaction from mindless eating and I have learned to really enjoy a piece of fruit or a great salad. Thanks for the Eureka moment for me!

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 3/30/2011 10:16AM

    "I've been eating less but enjoying it more."

That's what it's all about. My sister brought out Godiva chocolates after dinner last night. I was quite satisfied with eating one very slowly, but did have a second. However, in the past I would have easily scarfed down 6 or more. It's all about enjoying the company and conversation with food coming in as a distant third.

"I've been eating less but enjoying it more." That's what I need to work on.

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ARTSY_CANDICE 3/30/2011 10:14AM

    Nodding knowingly... We will get to a healthier relationship with food if we just keep working it!! emoticon

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LJCANNON 3/30/2011 10:09AM

    emoticon emoticonI am definitely 'Nodding Knowingly'. But I am also encouraged that I have Spark Friends with me that will show me that my relationship with food CAN be a Healthy, Happy one. I have finally learned--through Sparkpeople & Spark Friends--that food is not the enemy

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MSLZZY 3/30/2011 9:53AM

    It seems the one comfort is life has always been food. You recognize it and now
know that comfort can be found elsewhere. HUGS!

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MJMONE 3/30/2011 9:25AM


just what I needed, our goal is not just losing weight, but finding that balance!

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SUNNY332 3/30/2011 9:02AM

    I feel it is not in the food that we eat, it is in the portions. I think everything is OK but in moderation.

Hang in there - keep making wise choices and enjoy an occasional treat.


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WATERMELLEN 3/30/2011 9:01AM

    "And there are others who will nod knowingly."

Yup, I'm one of those.

And I'm also a "lifer". But had some residual faint hope of parole for exemplary behaviour.

Not going to happen, you're telling me? Gotta serve the full sentence?

Oh, well. Oh, well, Oh, well.

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777GRACE 3/30/2011 8:26AM

    Bible states, "everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial" I agree and nod in agreement!!!!
Hooray for you!!!!

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HOLDONHOPE 3/30/2011 8:25AM

    Amen to that!

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PRETTYBLKGYRL 3/30/2011 8:20AM

    *nodding knowingly*

love your honesty

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FITFABJENN 3/30/2011 8:18AM

    I love what you said about eating less but enjoying it more. Sparkling truth...

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Me? A Runner? Never in a million years...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

At least that's what I used to say. I never in a million years thought I'd be a runner.

It was a chum at work with whom I walked around the campus on lunch breaks that got me started. Because his brother got HIM started. My first "official" event was in 1991, I think. It was part of a corporate challenge and they had to have a certain composition for the team to enter... mix of men & women, that kind of thing. My event that year was the predictive mile: no watches allowed. You estimate how long it will take you to cover that mile, and then whoever comes closest to their prediction wins.

As usually happens with such an event, adrenaline kicks in. Most of us finished faster than our predicted times. There's a side effect to that... it made us want to participate in events measured differently, and the next Spring, I found myself at the starting line of my first 5K. I had to drop back to a walk a couple of times in that one, but my work mates kept encouraging me... and over the course of the next couple of years, I became a regular entrant, striving for my personal best.

Life happens. Years passed, that fell away. I gained the weight back (several times) and lost it again (same number of times). I'd been a spectator of our local marathon, and every time I went out to cheer others on... this little part of me wanted to wear a bib again, to get an official time. I resolved that in 2010 I would run in an official 5K. That happened back on my 58th birthday.

But I still didn't get an official time (that one was a charity event, not a lot of measuring went on). Believe it or not, that's part of the mystique. Sometime this year... there is another 5K in my future... beyond the half marathon speed walk.

Me? A runner? Never in a million years. emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CONCHA77 3/30/2011 2:35PM

    Keep on running! I would love to run too but my bladder gives me trouble when I do....Thinking about having that fixed soon.
Keep running, Barb. You are inspiring! Have a great day.

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DEBRITA01 3/29/2011 6:24PM

    Never say never, right? Good for you...enjoy your running! emoticon

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REJ7777 3/29/2011 5:30PM

    I think you're getting younger! I guess that's what getting fit and strong does to a person. emoticon

My own doctor told me, "I think you're getting younger." during a visit, after I'd lost over 50 lbs. And according to Dr. Oz's "Real Age", it could be true. I'm not a runner, but I am a walker and hiker. And who knows what the future holds, with the motivational friends I have on SP! emoticon

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MELISSAISAFOX 3/29/2011 1:59PM

    I never thought I could be a runner too. If you told me a year ago that I was a runner I would have laughed, but strange things happen when you put your mind to it!

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STIPER23 3/29/2011 1:43PM

    I never thought I would call myself a runner either.

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DRB13_1 3/29/2011 12:49PM

    I like the idea of estimating your time, then surpassing it!

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JHADZHIA 3/29/2011 12:41PM

    I like the idea of an alternate way of measuring. putting down how fast you think you will do a mile is a fantastic idea! Your blog points up how wonderful it is to have someone else pushing you to try and motivating you. Its awesome you are not giving up on running an official 5k. That half marathon speed walk will be a tremendous challenge! Seems to me you won't have to worry about putting the weight back on again. You are embracing the love of exercise!
Full speed ahead! You go girl!!

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CAREN_BLUEJEANS 3/29/2011 9:39AM

    Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

-Neil Young

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SUNNY332 3/29/2011 9:35AM

Woohoo - yes, you are definitely a runner.

Hugs, Sunny

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WATERMELLEN 3/29/2011 8:14AM

    Great blog: I love the fact that life remains full of surprises -- and we surprise ourselves most of all!!

Keeps things zesty!!

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DONNALYNN22 3/29/2011 8:11AM

    Absolutely fabulous blog! Loved it! I liked hearing how it all began and what sparked you to do it in the first place. I think if I lost a considerable amount of more weight and have the breast reduction, I'd give it a go...even tho' I've never run in my entire life...RUN? Who me? never. BUT never say never. You have no idea what is in store for you, do you?
THANKS for writing this down, I super enjoyed it!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FITFABJENN 3/29/2011 8:11AM

    I've said the same thing but I think I am going to try to change that. Thanks for your inspiration.

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SAMI199 3/29/2011 7:57AM

    You rock!!!


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MSLZZY 3/29/2011 7:55AM

    You surprised yourself and are such a winner!

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MEANCARLEEN 3/29/2011 7:55AM


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