Your Life Changes Are Changing the Lives of Others

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Every time we take the stairs instead of the elevator, choose water over soda or cook at home instead of picking up takeout, we're setting an example. Our co-workers might chide us for skipping the pizza buffet for a brown bag lunch in the office, but they notice how much weight we've lost as a result. Our partners sometimes ask us to skip the gym and stay on the couch, but they love how much more energy we have. And our kids--little sponges that they are--might groan when they see grilled chicken instead of chicken nuggets on the dinner table, but they're eating it just the same.

No man is an island, and every step we take creates a ripple effect in the universe. We might not be a CEO of a big company, a rich and powerful celebrity or even a blogger with a huge audience, but we're all influencing other people each and every day.

The big news in the health world last week was the unveiling of "Let's Move," the childhood obesity initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama that unites federal, state and local governments with the nonprofit and business worlds. While most people said they were happy to see someone taking the lead on such a widespread problem--1 in 5 children and teens in America is obese, according to government statistics--some felt that it wasn't the government's place to step in.

From what we've read, Let's Move is crossing political, socioeconomic, business and geographical boundaries. Each and every one of us, from the mom who's trying to get her son to eat his vegetables to the company president who's trying to cut his health-care costs, can make a difference--and we will!

As Chris "SparkGuy" Downie said in his blog post last week, SparkPeople is not only ready and willing to help, we've already been making strides to help end childhood obesity, one member at a time.

As the old adage goes, "even the longest journey begins with one step." Our successful members recognize that, and they know that after even a few steps, they're not alone. Before telling the stories of how two parents changed their families' lives along with their own, I first want to share some comments from some SparkFriends who answered the questions I posed yesterday: How has your family's life changed since you joined SparkPeople? Have you kids been influenced by your healthy choices?

LYNNANN43: "The food in our house has been totally revamped in the past year. We've even gone a little flexitarian when my daughter, the vegetarian, is home from college. We're all WAY more active. Especially with each other. We go on charity walk/runs together now too."

MIMI_B: "My family is my husband and I... I have influenced him positively. When I was picking up in my exercise, he started exercising too. When I started eating off of our smaller, "salad" plates, he talked about watching his portions too. And, he didn't just talk about it, he DID it! Just talking about lbs, he's lost more than 50, which was more than 20%... I lost about 13-14, which was 10%. It has been REALLY positive in our lives... and continues to be!"

SPRING4FAL: "My lifestyle change has DEFINITELY impacted my family. My daughter is now on a competitive swim team and works out more than I do! She is in fantastic shape now. Before, we were very sedentary and ate unhealthy food all the time. Now, we focus on making healthier choices and she is even aware of calories. My bf works out and relies on me to make meals that are easy on the waistline. I make the biggest impact on my coworkers though. I am the resident Q & A person re: diet and exercise."

BLAZEGRRL: "My family (parents and sister) have made beneficial changes in their diets due to my influence. They are eating more whole grains, yogurt, fish and fresh produce, and keep less of the junk food/processed items that I grew up with in the house. When I visit my mom makes sure to have my favorite healthy foods stocked as well. I am grateful for their efforts!"

How has your family's life changed since you joined SparkPeople? Have your kids been influenced by your healthy choices?

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CECELW 1/6/2020
my husband doesn't need to lose weight at all! He has never had a weight problem but I surely have. He is supportive of me Report
My husband seems determined to not be “changed” by my choices so he always makes sure to have a pie on the counter, cookies and chocolate in the cupboard, and several kinds of ice cream in the freezer. It is very annoying and such a challenge to ignore these treats. He tells me I am doing great, but I’d be so much happier with a little support! Report
We are always role models. Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Keep going. Don't quit. That is all that matters. Report
They are eating healthier because I am cooking healthier and my husband just began to exercise with me. Yeah! Report
I have seen first hand the effects of our children being affected by our own eating habits. I have four children ages 16,11,10 and 9. My 16 year old has poor eating habits just like I did when he was younger and my other 3 children have healthier eating habits like I have had over the past 3 years. I see my younger children when given the choice making good decisions about what they eat! Recently our family has slipped back into the habit of eating out a lot and grabbing food on the go! That is why I am so happy to find this site to help keep me motivated! I want my children to learn healthy eating habits early and not have to struggle with weight problems throughout their life. As I mentioned my oldest son has very poor eating habits. He and I are going to try to exercise daily together to help him to get into better shape. I worry for him because he is already at high risk for numerous health problems due to family history and being 6'6" tall. So my motivation for healthy eating and overall lifestyle is my children! Report
I don't have kids and my partner has always been more active than I, but my healthier cooking is helping his GI problems.

The problem for me is finding ways to spend time with my friends that don't involve food or alcohol. Almost all of my social life revolved around consuming calories in one form or another, that I find myself being a hermit and avoiding my friends for fear of temptation. Some have suggested that I try to help my friends get more active, but my very best friend is not able to go for long walks or bike or what-have-you. And besides, it's hard to find things to do like that in the winter.

It's been one of the bigger struggles for me. I've always been a very social person and I feel very lonely. Report
Yes, my new work out and exercise program are affecting my family. My seven year old was weighing 100 pounds before I started. She jumped on the band wagon after being unable to find any jeans to fit in January. And jeans are the only thing that keep her warm. She has lost ten pounds over the past two months. I have lost 21 pounds and two inches over the past three months. We are getting more healthy every day!!1 Report
I don't have kids but I think my Mom's lifestyle and eating habits had a big influence on me. She always made home cooked meals (I never ordered-in until I was in university and fast food was for very long car trips only... and even then she packed sandwiches), we had at least 3 veggies for every dinner, we had no packaged foods for our lunches, we could only have chips or popcorn in bowls she portioned out on "family movie fridays". She also NEVER would make a seperate meal for us if we were being picky (I can't BELIEVE some parents do that), but she would also never force us to eat it. If there was a food we didn't like, she would keep serving it anyways and we would have some on our plate... if we didn't want it we still had to keep it on our plate and could not leave the table until everyone was done. As a result we eventually tried everything... and I can't even count the number of veggies I hated and then changed to like. I don't think there's a single food that my sisters and I don't like or won't try.

Later when I worked at a daycare we had a healthy eating conference where they said to do the EXACT thing my mom had done... keep serving all the foods, don't force your kids to eat anything but NEVER make them something different. They said it might take 2 year before your kid tries the food, but they WILL try it, and most foods take 7 tries before a kid will like them. So just keep serving those foods that your "picky" kids won't eat! Its funny how many adults are appalled when I tell them this and say "oh my mom would make me something seperate she would never force me to eat something, that's cruel" and then they point out that they hate pasta, rice, tomatoes, carrots, corn, etc... and have a very limited amount of things they will eat. haha Report
I have to say that my healthy eating habits and fitness motivation has trickled down somewhat to my husband. He does not count calories yet and has not stopped smoking, but he has asked me to make him healthier meals instead of the typical southern-style cooking that he has preferred. With him I think it will take baby steps, but he is headed in the right direction. Report
Since I found SparkPeople, 6 of my 9 sisters have joined SparkPeople and are working on getting healthy... 4 of my 5 brothers, and several brothers-in-law, have started a challenge to reach a healthy weight... from a little spark... I am in awe! Report
My husband and I tend to respond to different healthy habits and then each affects the other! For example, tender crisp veggies from me, a salad every day from him, whole grain breads from me, and walking the mall when the weather is crummy from him!! Report
First, I want to state that I totally support and understand what Alicotter is saying about being the minority on SP. Second, not all who are single have family or friends - there are many who are "an island unto self" and articles that constantly focus on being in a crowd, really push those folks further onto that island. Third, I thought more on this after giving my (sarcastic) answer earlier. I really am not focused on whether I influence or dont' influence others. I am being healthy for me. Not for people in my community, not to make some stranger on the bus wish he or she was me, not to make my parents happy and not to make my friends wish they were following my footsteps. I am doing this for me. Frankly I don't care what others think, as I'm so over that - don't care if its positive or negative - as this journey is mine and its done for me. Because in my eyes, if I don't influence me to live a healthy life, then its all for naught. Report
I started leaving out fresh, cleaned fruit in a basket on the dinner table, in plain sight. Now my daughter (who is a preschooler) is more likely to ask for an apple instead of an unhealthy snack. I can't tell you how happy that makes me feel. Report
My husband and I have made healthier choices for ourselves and now we are seeing small changes in our friends and family. Report
No change .My husband still eat all his fatty food even when I try to talk him into eating healthy foods. My son he is eating a little more healthy foods but I think its because of the girls.
I'm still working on getting us into shape and living a health life style, work in progress.LOL. Report
I went to Bunco and talked about my efforts with Sparkpeople. A friend was impressed with my progress and I seemed so positive about this program. I was so happy and on top of the world and I think she wanted the same for herself. She e-mailed me the next week and asked how she could join up. We are now Spark buddies and it has been so great to know that someone is sharing my experiences.

My husband is a chef and has the wonderful ability to either cook HIGH FAT or completely healthy. Every night, he creates these amazing, low calorie, nutrient rich meals for us and even figures out how to make a soup on one night with the left overs.

My 8 year old daughter is now eating healthier and loves working out with me. She was at risk for being overweight and we are trying to make her stay that way. My husband was an overweight child and simply does not want to see a repeat of his life. It was so painful growing up as the "fat kid".

Even my incredibly fit parents are learning from my healthy ideas. They are so proud that I am finally losing the weight, but also that I am learning a new lifestyle. Report
no kids but i do think i am influencing my friends. Report
I don't have kids or anyone to "influence"....but I wish that I had been given the options to follow the examples of others, instead of being singled out & made to eat different from the rest of the family. Report
She was the main reason I started down this road. My great grandmother was obese, grandmother obese, mother obese, me obese. I don't want the same thing for her. She doesn't like the taste of red meat so that isn't a problem, and she is still discovering a whole bunch of healthy things she likes to eat. I feel like I am doing something right everytime she asks "Mom is this a healthy food for me?" Report
ALICOTTER, you're right -- we single folk do seem to be the minority. But I also subscribe to the "friends are family we choose" idea, so if the healthy choices I'm making help those friends, that counts, too. :-) Report
Of course I know I am in the minority. You family, partnered, child happy people are the majority and therefore get all the articles.

But would it kill anyone to include the perspective of someone without children, partners or family. Once in a blue moon it would be nice to know that someone out there realizes that not everyone in the world cares about what kids are doing, how hard it is to diet as a couple. Or wheather your family is supportive or not.

Some of us are doing this on our own. Not because of a unsupportive family, partner or kids. But because we are on our own. We live everyday as a single person, without children, partners and in some cases without family. We have just as many issues around healthy living as you do. But they are very different. And your examples do not apply to us.

There are times when I open yet another Spark email about partners, family and kids. I want to scream ENOUGH already. (^&(*^$%&^$ I don't care about your kids, partners or family. Send me something I can relate to for a change.

When I started Sparkpeople in 2008, my family was kind of skeptical about it. Now my sister, who is 17 and overweight, has really begun to take her health seriously. She climbs the steps in school a lot and does crunches whenever she can. She's a treadmill maniac and really has begun losing weight. She watches what she eats and we love to do crunches together when we have the chance. I'm so glad that I helped influenced her in helping her realize how important it is to be healthy! Report
We are all eating much healthier in my household. I read the labels more and will pay more for better quality food if necessary. The biggest change is the amount of fish we eat increasing from almost zero to 3 times a week. Report
My roommate, who has Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. sees her doctor quarterly for A1C, cholesterol, etc. checks. I do most of the cooking in the house and was suddenly (at age 55!) just FED UP with my weight and general poor health - all of my eating and exercising instantly changed. That meant my roommate was eating much better choices, although portion control didn't enter the picture for her for several months. But at her first doctor appt after the cooking changed, her doctor flew into the room and said, "What changed?" The answer was "My roommate went on a diet." He was thrilled with her better A1C, cholesterol and trigyceride numbers after years of no change and prescribing several drugs. The trend continued for about a year and she now has normal cholesterol and tri's, and her A1C has dropped 7 points. She has also lost 14 pounds and started working out 3 times a week about six months into this journey. My progress is greater, but I entered with the strong intention of completely changing my life and health. She was mostly an unintentional participant for the first few months. Her incredible results have REALLY REINFORCED MY AWARENESS OF THE EFFECTS OF DAILY FOOD CHOICES! Who knew every one of those choices has impacts our health! Report
My health has been really awesome sence I joined SP, I believe all the support on here has kept me on the righ road to keeping fit.
PLUS what I do does effect my family to go a healthier way. Report
Our actions definitely influence those around us! I decided to start running a few years back and my husband who is bow legged and pigeon toed with "bad knees' said that he couldn't run. However, he has run a marathon while I have only managed a 1/2 marathon. We are eating healthy and he always says how he enjoys what is fixed for supper.

At work, I am known as a "health freak" although i am not on a strict diet. They see that i diverge from my "diet" but return quickly to it. Report
When I started on my healthy lifestyle change, I made the change for my two teenage kids and my husband as well. We only have whole wheat bread in the house, brown rice, more fruits and vegis. We rarely go out and I cook almost every night. My husband and children are not overweight. If anything they are underweight. Even though they don't need to be on a 'diet' they do need to learn life long habits of healthy eating. There has only been a few times in the past year when my husband or kids didn't eat what I cooked. We all ride bikes together, we hike and we even started playing tennis together last summer. We are building healthy lifestyles together. Report
My daily workouts have inspired by husband to spend time working out as well. I'll get my 90 minutes in, sometimes in 3 segments, and sometimes he joins me for one of those. I'm proud of him!!! Report
On the mornings I do a 10-minute video workout, my five year old does it with me. He enjoys taking walks, hikes and working out - he even has his own 1 pound weights! It's important to me that we stay healthy for life, not just the moment. Report
My husband has been losing weight too, reading food labels and he's "borrowed" my free weights. We're eating fish at least twice a week now and so many other things are just healthier! Report
My husband is still the hard sell, but he does eat what I fix. I have been swapping turkey or chicken for beef or pork or even splitting 1/2 and 1/2 to lean the meal more. I just don't tell him when I do it. He hasn't caught me yet!! My daughter is easier. She eat what I eat, even though she is 10 and still likes her junk food (candy and potato chips), she eats more veggies, fruit, and salad. Report
My eating habits have definitly changed. I eat fruit instead of cake ect. and my husband has cut down on sweets. Report
My husband suffers with diverticulitis and he has finally taken on board what I have learnt about fiber and it is working. Report
my husband is doing more exercise he walk a lot more,and he is eating more healthy,he always tell me that I motivate him a lot and I see the difference with him, Report
My husband has started walking and getting outside more often and he'll even come for walks with me and the dog. My sons are more interested in what they should eat and will eat anything I make....they always did but even though they know it's low cal they seem to enjoy it. Report
Let's see, my cat is very thin and she needs far more calories than she's taking in, then there is me that cannot lose even though my life probably depends upon it. If only we could switch, as for influence, I don't seem to be much of an influence on her nor her on me. Even though we do try. ;) Report
My coworkers often discuss my lifestyle change and look to me for support when starting their journeys! I have also sparked a healthy streak in my in-laws they eat smaller portions and even exercise a few times a week! Report
My grand daughter is now taking her weight problems more seriously. We can talk about our goal to be healthier! Report
by all the walking I have done it caused my best bud Dennis to start walking. He's mentioned that I influienced him to walk. Report
It is this ripple effect, not only within my family and coworkers but also hear at SparkPeople that has made such a motivational change for me! It just charges me up when I inspire others toward making healthier changes!

Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals, Binghamton Area Losers and Laid Off But Staying Strong SparkTeams Report
The biggest changes have been for my husband. He often comments on how my SPARKing has benefited him. We exercise more. Since he's the grocery shopper, he's become amazingly good at finding the lowest sodium products! Both of us recently had blood work done and out numbers are so much better after just 7 months of SPARK. Report
I am so happy to see a lot of changes with several of my eight kids that started with my efforts, but have taken on their needs and personalities. I have one child who will not eat any fast food any more--this is big for a high school senior who even works in the industry. Another of my kids is not working at the local fitness center and runs and works out regularly--she has a stress fracture in her foot and has devised a new plan while her running shoes have been given a vacation. Another of my kids is making a conscientious effort to eat healthy food without snacking on junk and has joined a group at his workplace that is emulating "The Biggest Loser" with weigh-ins nad partner support. My youngest child, who is overweight, had finally started making sure he is eating fruits and veggies each day and is going to the pool daily. (This is a big deal and I am proud of his work.) I haven't gotten any of them completely of soda, but most of them are limiting to one a day. Of the other four, the younger is in a must participate situation--if she doesn't go to the fitness center, she is given extra chores, lol. One works nights, one is an adult with 2 jobs and wants to be in charge of everything--he does go with us to the fitness center when he can, and the other one is my fruit and veggie addict by nature.
The extra plus I am enjoying because of all of this is that I can do what I need without complaining about menus and time and criticism from my children. It sure makes it easier on me to take care of myself and that is a wonderful side effect to the influence on them. Report
i am still confused about nutrition. i am eating way too much food. but i am working out more than i ever have in my life. Report
I have seen a huge ripple affect since I have been walking, biking, and running in my small town. I have comments from contemparies(over 50 years) and people in their 20's and 30's as they tell me "I'm an inspiration" or "You make me feel guilty" depending on whether the person excercises or not. I have seen an increase in people getting out and doing activities because I have set the example that it is alright not to use your car. Report
There's definitely been a change in my house. I had lost nearly 25 pounds before my husband decided he'd like get healthier with me. We now cook healthy foods at home instead of eating out. We have incorporated having a nice, healthy salad at least once a week as our dinner. The kids even love it. Our other meals include healthy soups, chicken and fish. My kids now read the labels along with my husband and ask if the number of calories per serving is ok or is it too many! We also drink more water AND being from the south we normally have "sweet" tea for dinner. We have cut the sugar down to 1/2 and are slowly working down to no sugar in the tea. So thankful I found SparkPeople!! Report
My husband has been very supportive in my weight loss venture...helping me watch my portions & making sure I have healthy choices for meals. This website has helped me stay on course w/it's tracker & great recipes. We've already tried 2 w/one more to come tonight...all were very good. I joined Sparkpeople in January & have lost 10 lbs in 3 weeks & I feel great! I have more energy than I've had in awhile! Report
My husband has influenced me to eat more fresh veggies, instead of the canned or frozen versions that I tend to buy. I have managed to get him to eat whole grain pasta, mushrooms, and lower-sugar pasta sauce.
It's difficult to cook for someone who comes right out and says the recipe is stupid, disgusting, and that he wants real food. We've battled this for 4 years, and I've finally decided to just start making my own meals and let him fend for himself. I followed the recipes in the South Beach recipe book (prior to marrying), and they were very good. For now, we have agreed to disagree on our food choices. Report