There are dates in our lives that are very meaningful to us. Our wedding day, the births of our children. Perhaps the day we graduated collage.
This date, May, 17, 2010, I remember as a turning point in my life.
My weight was 285 pounds on that day.
I had been keeping a journal of my weight loss and all foods I was eating.
I had started my weight loss on January 1, 2010 at 335 pounds.
I was on the biggest journey of my life ,trying the best I could. But I needed support.
More support than I got from Pam, my dietitian, my immediate family, or my closest friends.
I really needed to be able to hear from other people like me. People trying to lose vast amounts of weight. People who were going through the same ups and downs,. the same craving, temptations.. I really needed to be in a support group.
I had a list of places to try, but somehow nothing clicked when I read through the list. Pam even suggested Weight Watchers. I just didn't feel that was where I wanted to be.
As I sat in my office on that May day I spotted a stack of magazines I was giving away. I glanced at the Good Housekeeping one on the top, had a picture of Amy Grant & Vince Gill on the cover. I asked myself , Have I read that? I picked it up and opened it to an article of two women who had lost a lot of weight . They both were using a place called, SparkPeople.com. There they could track their foods, exercise and get support from others to help them reach their goals of being fit and healthy. They had both found success being associated with Spark. Both had reached their goals. The article was written by Chris Downie, it was called, "Start Small Lose Big."
I read the article quite fast , then read it again more slowly.
I immediately went on line to SparkPeople.com and signed up.
That was one of the best move I had made in my journey to regain my health and fitness. Of course the most important decisions was to start the weight loss in the first place.
Now I had a place to go and track my foods. List the exercise that I had just started to do in a limited way.
I read all kinds of articles, blogs, health and fitness stories.
In the beginning I used the Spark meals, but soon started to list my own food and meals.
I didn't know about all the points and extra things Spark has to offer.
I joined a lot of teams, too many, later had to adjust to ones I could manage.
My first goodie, was from SP Staff. Welcoming me and explaining about goodies.
Seems the goodies are just for fun and NO monetary value. Really ? So no personal chef or diamond tiara will be arriving at my house. That was a bummer, but what the heck, I still thought Spark was the place to be.
My second goodie was a Tomato from Yoovie.
One of the most memorable goodies was from Speedy143, a pair of red high heels. 10/15/10. She says "110 lbs down, OMG, I am so excited for you. I know our stiletto heel days are over but I've been waiting to get these RED high heels for someone so you win. Enjoy sweetie, Love Linda.
Little did she know I love red high heels.
Later the first pair of high heels I got were red. You see my days of wearing high heels are not over. At end of blog, picture with me in pink , I have the red heels on.
I did need to wait till I got both my knees replaced. That happened in April and September of 2011. Prior to that I was very limited in my mobility. I used a walker and canes to get around. To go out and shop I needed a electric cart.
That brought me to the support and inspiration I got from another member, Joan of Spark, who also used a walker and posted abut her chair exercises. Well if she could do that, so could I.
Also the videos from Anne Burrell about chair exercises were a big help.
Motivation also came from Beth, Indy Girl. When she posted a picture of her in a swim suit. I had been staying away from the gym and water because how I looked in a swim suit. She gave me the confidence to put that size 22W on and get in the water and exercise. Water exercises were the best for me, due to all the joint problems, and arthritis I had.
Later I got more confidence and Jen my aqua instructor took a picture of me in my swim suit., it was now a size 18W. I posted it on my page.
In the coming months I made so many friends, got so much support from perfect strangers.
I had joined a team, Over 60 with 100-200 Pounds to Lose. The members on that team have been my biggest supporters. We all had so much in common.
I never fail to hear from some of them daily. Jill , is always there, leaving comments and encouraging me. Gail, Theresa, Rose, Jeannie ,Maggierose, they are some of the most wonderful caring women I have even known.
Just today they gave me a goodie and said if they could have a team mascot, I would be it. For all I have accomplished. I inspire others that they too can change their lives. That was most touching and I also laughed. I could just see myself dressed as a cheer leader like I did in high school cheering the team on. Smile!!
All the other teams I belong to have been very supportive too.
Of course there are some men I have on my Friends page too . Rextini, Hay Steve, just to mention a few.
There are over 422 friends listed and I can't name them all, but here are a few that I hear from very often.:Esilbo, Mary, Angel, Morticia,Jamer,Judith,Carole, Carrie, Kim, Tricia, Marianne, Kristin, Jenny, Deb, Donna, thanks for the photo shoot. Charlie, Gwen, June, Edna, Lin, Lois, Anne, Pimpenellan50. Herbkat, from Salem. Healthyashley, NarnieRose ,Fxygm, Annie, Sunny Arizona, thanks for the diamond. Kelly, thank you for the Monster truck. Islandsharon, Vinnielou.
If I didn't mention your name, please don't feel I have diminished your support in any way.
There is never a birthday, anniversary, accomplishment or even illness that the caring Spark members don't respond with best wishes and goodies.
Without the support. encouragement I have received this journey would have been a lot different.
Spark has encouraged me to see my strengths not my weaknesses.
Defy expectations. Don't put limits on myself.
Treasure my health. Appreciate my body. Focus on what my body can do.
Don't compare myself to others, we are all individuals with different minds and bodies..
There is no perfect shape. be realistic. Strive to get a healthy body , one without pain.
Keep moving, doing something physical makes one feel good through out the day.
Be confident. Confidence has nothing to do with what you look like.
Self esteem , being confident comes from knowing who you are.
I am in charge of my life. What I get out of life is what I put into it.
Spend time and energy being happy, making others around you happy.
Giving confidence to others will come back to you and you will end up feeling better about yourself.
I am a very strong advocate for Spark being the place to come for help in controlling your health and fitness. I always point out to people that it is free.
How much is free these days?
I know I would continue to be on Spark even if I had to pay. But for those with limited income , the fact that it is free is great. There is no reason not to give Spark a try. I have even known one member, FatRockStar who used to go to the library to log on, for she didn't have a computer. That's dedication.
These two years have brought many changes to my life, the weight loss and both knee replacements. Both those happening have enabled me to live a normal life, full of fun and excitement.
I just had the occasion to see an old friend, Jerry. We were Saturday Market buddies. For over seven years we had booths next to each other. He helped me I helped him. I have been to his house with my grand kids. He makes wooden bird houses and feeders among other things.
I went to see him last Saturday. He did not know me. Sure it's been five years, but still. Of course he only knew me at 240 to 320 pounds or so.
When I told him who I was, his mouth dropped open, eyes got big, and he said,"OMG, I never knew you could look so good.". Asked what did I do to myself. I told him I lost weight. He said no it's more than that, you look so young. Haven't you done some thing to your face? I reassured him, NO. just losing weight and getting my bubbly personality back was all I did. Smile!! We sat and talked and ever so often he would look over at me and shake his head in disbelief . Could not get over how much I had changed, just by losing weight.
I could write a lot about peoples reaction on the change that has taken place in my life. But a picture speaks a thousand words.
Here I am at the start on the weight loss journey,335 lbs. Half way through at 235 lbs on 11/6/10 . In a swim suit, size 8 now, and the most recent pictures taken yesterday..135 lbs.
You be the judge, See any difference.
So most of you know my story. Nice lady in pretty good shape, got morbidly obese, stayed that way for 15 years, only when told her life would probably end in a few years, if not sooner did she embark on this wonderful life changing journey.
I am not going to try go back and wonder why it took me so long, it just did. We can't change the past, we can only live in the present and look forward to the future.
I wish to thank each and every Spark member who has commented on my page, blog, given me a goodie or just checked they like on the friends feed.
Your support is so encouraging. Sometimes I think more so now that I am in my 18th week of maintenance. For once you start maintenance, you are no longer getting the high fives for weight loss. What do people have to cheer you on for?
I have found that people still cheer me on for the fitness minutes I put in, the blogs I write, and just for being a loyal Spark member who want to make a change in how people look at obesity. And to encourage everyone who's over weight or obese,that you can change. Every step you take is making a difference in your life. And most of the time it's also effecting others in your life too.
So stay positive, believe you can and
OH YES, IT IS SO WORTH IT.
Peace and Love,