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Day 383: Spark Heresy

Thursday, February 09, 2012

I pretty much know what I'm doing.

I mean, I THINK I know what I'm doing. In some ways. Regarding some things.

For example: I have Type 2 diabetes. I suppose it was inevitable. My grandfather had it... my mother has it... so heredity is one factor.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I developed what's known as 'gestational diabetes.' It went away (so to speak) after delivery, but that's another factor signaling that it's likely to develop.

My checkered history of gaining weight / losing weight / gaining weight / losing weight didn't help either.

Four years ago I was on Metformin - a tablet - and the dosage had been upped to the point where they prescribed a second medication, Gliclazide. (The spelling may be wrong; also, it may be only available in the UK, or it may be a British version and sold elsewhere under a different name. Whatever.)

Prescriptions drive me bats. I mean, besides the cost (or the drain on NHS / insurance resources), I just don't think artificially inducing 'health' is always a good idea. Don't get me wrong, you who are on daily medications. I am too, in my case for hypertension. My point is, IF you can self-manage a disease to the point where you can reduce or even eliminate medication altogether, so much the better, is all I'm saying.

So as I say, four years ago, I was taking two prescriptions for the diabetes, I was on a fairly high dosage of Lisinopril for the blood pressure, and I was well on my way to 300 pounds.

(It occurs to me I sound like one of those old people who drones on about aches, pains, and past surgeries, but bear with me. There's a point.)

One day - and it was almost literally 'one day' - I thought, I don't like this. I don't want to do this. I want to change this.

So slowly, bit by bit, I did. I haunted the doctor. I consulted the nurse who specialized in diabetes. I worked with the staff dietitian. I went to not one but two rounds of classes specifically designed for Type 2 diabetics.

And of course I started Sparkin'.

I became my own laboratory: I experimented with nutrition, reading everything I could get my hands on and learning as much as possible.

I worked to check my blood glucose almost fanatically. I would introduce a new food, check... try it a second day, check... and had notes and diaries and spreadsheets all over the place.

But the payoff was huge.

Today, I am a diet-controlled diabetic. (That's the medical community's label; myself, I believe the term 'lifestyle-controlled' would be more accurate.)

This morning, my fasting blood glucose was 84.6 / 4.7. That's pretty typical these days, and it's good numbers.

No medications except the minimum dose (still!) of Lisinopril for hypertension. I wear size 12 with the occasional - occasional, mind you - foray into The Land of Ten. T-shirts are often 'small' and never more than 'medium.' I have a few One-Size-Fits-All nightshirts and things that I could swim in.

Yes, it's grand. Yes, I'm pleased. No, I'm not bragging. Yes, anyone can do what I've done.


Just as I've got the successes, so too I've got the failures. You know, if you've read my blogs before, as this is my constant refrain: I don't exercise enough, and I need to move MORE.

I chip at it. I'm just not as motivated or committed or enthusiastic or OCD about that as I was about getting the blood glucose under control. It'll happen. One day I'll decide that I want to do it, and I will.

Until then, I'm okay.

Except for SparkPeople.

Yesterday, one of my fellow Sparklers said 'I can't find the such-and-such exercise on the Fitness Tracker.' And I thought, hmmm, I think I know where it is.

Now, I don't use SP's fitness tracker. Why? Because every time - every single blessed dagnabbed doggone (be assured the idiom was much saltier) time I do, it arbitrarily changes my nutrition guidelines. I mean, WILDLY changes them, way out from where I have them set.

I happen to use the 'diabetic version' of the nutrition tracker, but whether I use it or the basic version makes no difference. Whether I set it to 'custom' (which I do) or to Spark's meal plans makes no difference.

Start adding exercise and the system will 'automatically' adjust your caloric needs for you.

I've asked them to change that. Whether it's the defaults or a holdover from an earlier version or what, I don't know. I'm not enough of a techie to know.

The PTB (Powers That Be) have explained why it happens, and essentially tell me it's to be helpful, and supportive, and all that happy newspeak. They say that's the way the system's set up. They say it's been done that way deliberately.

Well, I say - STOP IT.

Because I never use the fitness tracker on here anymore. Never. Ever. Not a single minute, a single calorie burned, a single Cardio or Step or Strength, nada.

I got so tired of having to 'correct' my nutrition tracker that I finally started recording my (admittedly sporadic) fitness activities elsewhere.

So yesterday, as I say, I went looking for 'bowling' in the activities list.

I was pretty sure it was within the Cardio category. I couldn't seem to find a way to 'browse' the activities unless I indicated I wanted to (hah) do them, but I thought - 'Well, that should be all right. I'm not going to add any, just act as if I was considering setting up my own exercises and my own favorites, so I can explain where to find it.'

I ticked Cardio and that I wanted to do it on Wednesdays, but I didn't select any length of time or amount of calories I wanted to expend or anything. Just ticked it so I could access 'Browse' - which I did - and find 'bowling' - which I did.


Then I explained to the Sparkler where to find it, then unticked 'Cardio' and reset my fitness tracker to zero - that is, so that it wouldn't even remotely appear that I planned to do a bloomin' thing.

...and after supper, when I went to record my dinner into the tracker, what do I find?


Thanx a lot, PTB. You obviously know what's better for me than I do. When it comes to nutrition, and exercise, and self-management of various conditions, you will make darned sure I have what you've determined is the right fit for everyone.

EYE don't try to foist MY behavior off on anyone else. Could be that what I do works for me and wouldn't work for others.

I often think that everybody needs a relatively customized program, one that's tailored to the individual. I mean, when you go to a gym, don't they take into account your age, your condition, whether you have certain problems (bad knees, etc.) and your current level of fitness? They don't just tell you to jump in the deep end and swim fifty laps, do they?

(And if they do, maybe you need a different gym / personal trainer.)

But according to SP, maybe I don't know what's best for me after all.

Or maybe it's time I start recording my nutritional data on the other site where I record my (sporadic) fitness data, because they don't have any strange links or defaults between the two that change my values without my say-so.

But I do so dread edging away from the SP community. And even more, I detest the idea of having to start all over to rebuild my list of foods not in the tracker.

[Yes, I know. Spark is free and so on and so forth. I know. But one of the things they promote most is how they strive to be convenient, to provide the tools that people can use to become healthier. Well, surely it's a simple IT matter to set a control or write a code for Sparkers to choose 'Yes, automatically synchronize my trackers' or 'No, allow me to manually adjust my trackers'? The same way we can currently choose 'pre-selected meal plans' or 'manually selected meal plans'? Dammitoll.]
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JIBBIE49
    3208 days ago
    Kasey, Your wit, your blogs, your pictures are part of why I check Spark every day. Please do not allow this tracking issue to make you leave our community. You are so valued and special. And I hope that your teams and friends can convince you to stay.

    That being said, I think the controls and overrides are part of the Spark Diabetes Nutrition plan. I too have come off of all diabetes meds and all hypertension meds except Lisinopril - so I tried to change my trackers and get off the Diabetes plan - and couldn't figure out how to do it. I haven't attempted to contact the spark techies to help me with this. So for now, I just ignore their pre-set values.

    I agree that Spark can provide guidance but should not force us to a particular plan.

    So, dear Spark Friend, you have a lot of support from your sparkling community. Please stay.

    3210 days ago
  • BD3269PM
    This doesnt happen to me at all either. Maybe it has something to do with how exercise interacts with diabetes. Who knows. But don't leave Spark. You are doing gtrat and are truly an inspiration!!! emoticon
    3215 days ago
    Well Kasey--You are truly my inspiration--so PLEASE don't go--I never heard of the Spark readjusting things--- I'll probably find out in time eh??------You sure have come a long way----and must be so proud---- I'm sorry to hear about yer knee--a definite setback to walking----I feel any sorta movement is really exercise---Hope Spark hear yu!!--Lynda--where its minus 25 C right now! emoticon
    3215 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/11/2012 7:31:50 AM
    I feel your frustration! I hope Spark Guy reads this and comes to your rescue. I truly do not hope you leave what would we do without you. I wish I knew how to tell you to fix this problem, but I don't. I bet Chris would though. I think you do a great job with your program and maybe others on this web site should take notice. Please, don't leave send him a copy of this blog and give him a chance. We need you too darn bad! emoticon emoticon
    3215 days ago
    I don't use the trackers here on Sparkpeople as I just can't get them to work for me. Every so often I have a go, thinking it can't be rocket science, but I think it might. So I use the fitness & nutrition trackers on myfitnesspal as they're straightforward &, for some reason, they list all the UK food I eat.

    But there's nothing like Sparkpeople for the community & that's why I'm staying here for as long as they'll have me.

    3216 days ago
    I hope you'll stay with SP, Kasey, but I do hear your frustration. Somehow I finally got the "Calories Burned" in the "My Goals and Progress" section of my Start page to 0 out. There is a link to a place where you can change calories burned, and while it took persistence, I eventually got it to stay on 0.

    Now, having said that, I haven't used the fitness tracker since I was actively training for my first 5k in the spring of 2010. I was recording pedometer info in a little notebook, and that proved to be quicker and served me quite well.

    At one time, I was a Weight Watchers member, and was also logging in my food (points) and activity of that website, too. Something had to give. There was just entirely too much redundancy, and I was spending more time focusing on the technology of it all than I was on just doing what I knew I had to do. So I quit the Weight Watchers site.

    I think we all have to figure out which way works best to support our goals. It's with complete selfishness that I say I hope you hang around!
    3216 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10259955
    Right there with you! Mine has done a bit of flapping lately and I thought I was going crazy. My BH is tracking his food with another program that allows him to scan the bar codes on the food - so simple....so as much as I hate to switch, I think I am going to download the app and start tracking my food on that. The ST tracking is not user-friendly, so I tend to ignore that as well and record my cardio/miles.

    All that said - don't leave SP! I won't either - simply because I love the people I have met here and all the support I receive, and that I am grateful to be able to give to all of you.

    3216 days ago
    It's those darn techs who keep putting on the extra stuff on that we don't want or need---like connections to Facebook---fault-----I love it when it yells at me taht I am not getting enough calories for my exercise amount---and I have not been been tracking my food---LOL Can't you just put your fitness minutes in the thing at the top that does not track how many calories? does that affect your food tracker?
    3216 days ago
  • POPSY190
    PPPPPPlllllllleeeeeaaaaaaaaase don't go away! Getting the diabetes under control is a massive achievement. Hope your frustrations with the trackers don't drive you away entirely. I would have thought SP could offer an alternative "personal" tracker system with none of these drawbacks for people who don't want the calorie/fitness link.
    3216 days ago
    Do what I do and just ignore it! It works for me in spite of their knowitallitis! Just ignore it.

    And what ever you do, stay with us!

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    3216 days ago
    This is not happening to me at all. If it had I would not use those trackers I think...don´t know but I think my tracker not "adjusting" has to do with what "mobycarp" is writing. I have manually ordered my goal in the nutrition tracker that I will consume between 1500-2500 calories a day (or something like it it is anyway very flexible and wide...) and then I track reality and mostly end up between tose two numbers... and when I binge or starve the tracker will tell me that I have not eaten enough or too much but that´s all.

    But why I wanted to respond was to say thank you for reminding me that my ex is not as crazy as I think he is... there is talk about having our daughter evaluated for adhd and the reason I fear this is that ex loves medicins and I fear that if she had a diagnose he would prefer a little white tablet instead of adjusting environment, (food, sleep exercise routines etc.) first and check how that works. But he got thes "diabetes-2-warning) as his bloodsugar was rising and he started to eat healthier, lose weight and start his day with a 30 minutes walk. It helped then, I don´t know about today as he is very secretive but anyway maybe I don´t have to be nervous, he might be sensible about working without pills as far as possible...
    3216 days ago
    Yes, the interaction between the fitness tracker and the nutrition tracker is annoying. But it is a code that can be cracked.

    Tracking an exercise doesn't change the nutrition tracker. Changing what you tell the fitness tracker you *plan* to do changes the amount of calories the fitness tracker thinks you'll burn, and changing the amount of calories you plan to burn changes the nutrition tracker. That's actually how I adjust the nutrition tracker; I tell it I'm going to burn X calories per week in the box down near the bottom, and I never change what I said I plan to do on what days. (When I was losing weight, I ignored all the nag messages saying I should adjust the plan because I was doing more.) Of course, I have to look at what I told it last time on a different page, because it shows me a blank box on the page where I change it. Sigh. But once I know it says I'll burn 7700 calories per week, I can tell it I'll burn 6300 calories per week in order to cut 200 calories per day from my diet.

    So, yeah. I put exercises into the fitness tracker, but I don't use it for scheduling cardio or scheduling strength training. I just use it as a place to record what I've done. It's not a very good record, and it's hard to search history; but the act of recording and seeing those Spark Points works for me as a Stupid Motivational Trick.

    The other thing I find annoying is that changing my goal weight changes the nutrtition tracker. My solution is to let SP think my goal weight is whatever it was the last time I changed it, regardless of what weight I'm trying to maintain now.

    I'd really like to have a function that would let me directly set the calorie range and have the nutrition tracker spread the macronutrients; but the best I have right now is to lie to the fitness tracker to get the calorie range right, then go edit the protein range because the minimum is way too low for my needs.
    3216 days ago
    Yea... I'm with the lady in one of the other comments... don't leave us! We just may have to follow you and I've sunk way to much time into SP to move now. lol That being said; I've been on SP since October 2008. Shortly before I found SP I found CC (that would be CalorieCount.com) I like that one too. Not so much for the socializing. But they have a bigger database for the fitness and nutrition. Quite often when I can't find an activity in SP to log in my fitness tracker, I'll look it up in CC and copy the info into my SP tracker. The CC database even has things like housework! You name it, they got it listed there.) They also have quite a few great articles too for educating yourself. I get them daily in my email and also on my Facebook news feed.
    3216 days ago
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    3216 days ago
    OMIGOSH! Don't leave us, Kasey... do what you need to do, but don't leave us!

    I personally went the other direction... still track my fitness minutes here, but stopped tracking the foods / calories, I do that elsewhere. I only track servings of freggies, and glasses of water here. But I never, ever, ever want to give up my Spark community! People, Kasey... that's what it comes down to for me... motivational people... including YOU!

    And I hope the PTB listen to folks like you, who really *do* know more than the arbitrary "rules" of the trackers.

    3216 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6484093
    First of all, congratulations on reaching the point where you can control your diabetes with your diet. THAT is the way to do it!

    As for the exercise tracker situation, I guess I'm a bit ignorant. I've not noticed that my values have changed when I add exercise. I'm sure they change, I've just not noticed it. When I was on JC, it didn't matter, as the calories are all pre-planned anyway. Now that I'm stepping out on my own and trying to do it myself, I may come to the same conclusion as you.

    But whatever you do, PLEASE don't leave SP. If for no other reason, stick with us for the valued support and knowledge you share. You've come a long way, Kasey, and to some of us out here in SparkLand, you are an inspiration.
    3217 days ago
    emoticon Well, Hell's Bells!! Try to do a Favor for someone and look what happens!
    emoticon 4DOGNIGHT is right, we can't allow you to leave Sparkland!!
    I don't know that there is an answer for your problem--it sounds as if you have explored all the options--so that leaves just coming here and Venting, Stomping Your Feet as needed, and then getting on with Life in General.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3217 days ago
    Well, that was a meandering dissertation! You can't leave Spark! What would we do without you? I think you have done incredibly well by losing all the weight you have lost and gotten down to a diet controlled diabetes! I wish I had done as well. You would think I could lose that 30 pounds I've been trying to lose for 2 years. But no, it just goes up and down a few here and there. I don't use any of the trackers, Maybe I should What works best for you is what you should do, but definitely don't leave us! Or you would have to tell us where you went so we could follow!
    3217 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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